How diverse teams drive innovation at 4 Chicago tech companies

by Michael Hines
January 30, 2019

Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace isn’t only the right thing to do: It can also be a powerful tool for driving innovation and helping businesses scale to new heights. We recently spoke with four Chicago tech companies to learn more about how their commitment to diversity and inclusion gives them a competitive edge, and how they’re working to strengthen their existing programs and initiatives.

 

Paylocity Chicago tech jobs

Paylocity’s cloud-based human capital management software is designed to help companies more efficiently manage payroll and HR tasks. The company employs over 2,500 people and is still growing. To ensure that its rapidly growing team continues to remain as diverse as the users of its product, Director of Strategic Initiatives Karen Klimara said the company has partnered with universities to create programs for developing and hiring diverse talent.

 

How does having a diverse team shape your work?

We are creating a workforce that mirrors the populations using our products. We know that the voices and visions of many are critical to the development of our software, and at Paylocity, everyone is empowered to contribute their ideas. Equally important is our customer as co-creator model, where we reach beyond our employees and work directly with customers to encourage feedback and shape how our tools can work for them. Our product owners interact directly with our customers to gain insight into their experience with our suite and how we can better serve their unmet needs. Finally, we “drink our own wine.” All of our products are used internally and provide another avenue for our teams to get direct input into the design of current and future features.

We are building relationships with universities and creating onboarding programs to hire from diverse backgrounds.”

 

How will your company continue to strengthen its diversity and inclusion initiatives?

We have internal goals and projects that target not only our incoming talent, but also how we include, educate and evolve our current employees. We are building relationships with universities and creating onboarding programs to hire from diverse backgrounds, rather than focusing our hiring on those with professional experience in the industry. Through those partnerships, we will support students in different ways — before they are even ready to look for work — through teaching classes, mentoring and supporting, and sponsoring their community groups. Additionally, we are a continued sponsor of i.c. stars, where our employees regularly volunteer. Finally, Paylocity is establishing employee resource groups to provide internal support and development of diversity in our employee community.

 

CancerIQ Chicago tech jobs
PHOTO VIA CHRIS MURPHY

CancerIQ has developed cloud-based software designed to help physicians identify patients with a high genetic risk of cancer and provide the resources necessary to pre-empt — and in some cases prevent — the disease. Given that cancer impacts people from all walks of life, it’s crucial to CEO and founder Feyi Olopade Ayodele to have a diverse team both developing the company’s product and working with healthcare providers.

 

How does having a diverse team shape your work?

Having a diverse team directly impacts our company, from our passion to our product development. We are helping to ensure more women from every cultural and socioeconomic background have access to genetic screening so they can preempt or prevent cancer. That’s something our team — which includes women at every level of the organization — cares deeply about. From a product standpoint, family history is one key to understanding if someone has a genetic predisposition to cancer, so our diverse team is integral to the development of our products that need to reach, educate and engage people across cultures.  

Our diverse team is integral to the development of our products that need to reach, educate and engage people across cultures.”

 

How will your company continue to strengthen its diversity and inclusion initiatives?

Diversity and inclusion are part of CancerIQ’s genome: They are cornerstones of our mission, product and team. We have a clear organizational commitment to maintaining diversity and inclusion initiatives, and that is reflected in our programs, policies and leadership team. We target diverse populations when recruiting, we make diversity and inclusion part of our company culture, and we consistently track and measure how we’re doing so we can do better.

 

Yaro Chicago tech company diversity and inclusion

Yaro is a healthtech company that takes a fintech approach to helping users, or consumers, purchase health plans and understand their benefits. Senior Data Engineer Irvic Rodriguez said the company’s commitment to diversity starts at the top with its executive leadership, and that the impact this makes filters all the way down to the features his team develops.

 

How does having a diverse team shape your work?

Recently, we were working on a new capability that includes a quiz to help users determine the type of medical professional or self-care option they should seek out. One of our teammates noticed that the symptom checker only asked users to choose between two genders. The tech team promptly changed the quiz to include more inclusive options in the gender questions. This is an example of a key part of our overall accessibility design process, complementing our consumer and user testing and analytics. We hope this makes all users feel included and that our diverse team continues to find small and large ways to include, and make accommodations for, all types of healthcare users.

We strive to not only hire the best candidates but also make sure they can work in an inclusive community.”

 

How will your company continue to strengthen its diversity and inclusion initiatives?

Yaro was created with diversity and inclusion as its first priority. We strive to not only hire the best candidates, but also make sure they can work in an inclusive community that is sure to make them feel part of something greater. Diversity and inclusion are reflected in the distinctiveness of not only our tech team but also in our leadership team. As an example, out of our leadership team, two — including our CEO — are women, one is African American and another is Indian. Our team’s experience spans years and industries and includes a diverse range of values, needs and experiences with the healthcare system. Such diverse leadership helps create an atmosphere of mutual respect, teamwork, knowledge and relationship building.

 

Codifyd Chicago tech jobs

Codifyd works with business-facing manufacturers and distributors of consumer goods, office supplies, industrial equipment and more to enhance the customer experience. In addition to Chicago, the company has offices in India and the United Kingdom. Human Resources Manager Rhys Hunding said the company leverages the global diversity of its team during the hiring process to ensure hires are made on more than just the basis of a technical fit.

 

How does having a diverse team shape your work?

The majority of our roles are client-facing, so the Codifyd team has to be able to communicate effectively with people from a variety of backgrounds, and it’s vital that our team reflects that. Diversity across the board is a huge competitive advantage. Through different experiences come unique points of view, and the more points of view we have, the better we can serve a broader client base.

Our selection process includes inputs across departments, levels and continents.”

 

How will your company continue to strengthen its diversity and inclusion initiatives?

When we interview potential employees, we look for two main things: Are they the best person for the job, and will they be able to add value? Our selection process includes inputs across departments, levels and continents. We leverage those different viewpoints to identify not just technical skill but also a different approach. This system is doing a great job of selecting diverse talent organically.

Once employees are on board, we continue to leverage these different perspectives. One of the most exciting changes we’ve made recently is using multi-rater feedback as one of the key success measures for both project and individual performance.

 

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