An innovation in Diversity Recruiting!

Raymahl Sutton, CEO & Founder of Applyable, Inc.

Since I facilitate the module on Best Practices in Diversity Recruiting for the National Diversity Council’s DiversityFIRST Certification Program, I am always on the lookout for innovations in this space. And last month at the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce’s first annual Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Conference, I found one; Raymahl Sutton, Founder of Applyable Inc., a panelist in one of the sessions I attended. His points were so compelling that I later I met him in some shared office space of a Raleigh Think Tank facility to discuss his venture to address implicit bias in hiring.

Stan: Raymahl, thank you for sharing your story at last month’s event. So was that the catalyst for forming this company?

Raymahl: Yes! After I graduated from NC State with my degree in Polymer & Color Chemistry, I circulated my resume with no bites for 9 months. A recruiter I scheduled a meeting with reviewed my resume and suggested I change my first name of Raymahl on the resume to Ray, and within 2 months I had an offer. I then realized that there could truly be implicit bias in resume review including impact of ethnic sounding or non Anglo-Saxon names.

Stan: So what was your journey after starting work in the pharmaceutical industry?

Raymahl: Yes, I had seven successful professional years. But then in 2015, I saw a television special about issues with diversity hiring in Silicon Valley on CNN, and I felt that this was an issue that needed to be addressed and that I could do something about it.

Stan: So what happened next?

Raymahl: In my little bit of spare time, I researched issues in implicit bias in the recruiting process – how things like names, colleges attended, previous companies worked for, etc., can introduce bias in applicant evaluation, and even trump key skills or ability to succeed in the position. I then took some computer programming courses so I could prepare myself to design software that could evaluate resumes while removing these biasing factors. Eventually I left my Project Manager position so I could full time launch my new company, Applyable.

Is your recruiting process helping or impeding building a successful diverse workforce?

Stan: How will the Applyable system work?

Raymahl: First, when companies post their jobs on our site and applicants submit their information and responses to screening questions, our system creates a decluttered resume that removes names, ties to gender, ethnicity, age etc. Second, our system evaluates the decluttered resume to present the hiring companies a strong diverse list of qualified candidates to interview. The names, schools, etc can then be provided later, but now we’ve neutralized the human error of the unconscious mind in these preliminary stages.

Stan: So what is next for Applyable? Are you looking for clients?

Raymahl: Right now we are in a pilot program with the county and city of Durham, North Carolina and working on creating an early adopter program with several smaller and medium size enterprises to collect more user feedback and fine tune our solution for a broader launch. I’ll eventually be seeking some venture capital for this next step in growth once we prove our value.

Stan: How can my readers learn more about your work and keep up with your progress?

Raymahl: Yes, they can check out my website, And of course I can be emailed at [email protected] or called at 910-284-1304. My web site is a great place to start since it explains the business case for a diverse workforce, human error and the cost of bad hiring, and more about the Applyable approach.

Stan: Raymahl, thank you for your time. You are indeed addressing a huge business need with your venture, and I look forward to following up as you prepare to launch on a larger scale.

* * * * *

Please also read my earlier two-part blog series on implicit or unconscious bias:

Seven Biases in the Workplace – Let’s Be Brutally Honest About It!

More About Unconscious Bias – A Guest Blog by John Luecke

Six Leadership Insights from a local “Fortune 1000” CEO

C. Howard Nye, President and CEO of Martin Marietta Materials (photo from Martin Marietta Materials web site)

I continue to enjoy the quarterly C-Suite Perspectives Sessions offered by the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce that brings in top executive leaders to share their insights. The June, 2017 meeting featured the President and CEO of Martin Marietta Materials, C. Howard Nye. Martin Marietta is current #607 on the Fortune 500 list and also one of their “Top 100 fastest growing companies.” Martin Marietta is an American-based company and a leading supplier of building materials, supplying the resources necessary for building the solid foundations on which our communities thrive.

As in past C-Suite Perspective Session, Mr. Nye did provide an overview of the value and executable components of their strategy that has led to their ongoing growth and success. For Martin Marietta, these include operational excellence, customer satisfaction, focus on cost drivers and sustainable growth. But beyond these (and truthfully, all organizations have lofty and well-stated values and goals) I am keen to what Mr. Nye shares from his own personal story of leadership and career growth.

My Nye emphasized the importance of building and nurturing an excellent team, and that starts with him as the president and CEO being accessible and visible, especially during difficult times; leading by example; and consistency of message and actions.

Martin Marietta Materials is one of the USA’s leading suppliers of raw materials for road construction. (Photo from the Martin Marietta web site)

The lessons Mr. Nye shared about his own professional journey include:

1) Life and work will often go in unimaginable directions. Embrace this and think constructively.

2) The importance of understanding and relying on your own personal characteristics. For Mr. Nye, these included hard work, creativity and character.

3) Friends and colleagues are critical to your life and career … choose carefully.

4) Know when you are in the right place at the right time, and that includes difficult times. Don’t despair in these difficult times as they may present excellent opportunities to shine.

5) Building a shared set of values, knowing that real values do resonate with the younger generation who are now entering the workplace.

6) Be patient and just don’t focus on short term goals. Those often shift and move, but optimize for the long haul.

Different leaders have different life journeys and key principles to share, and the more we listen to these interesting and diverse journeys, the more we can learn to assist us with our own career and leadership growth.

* * * * *

Previous C-Suite Perspectives Leadership Blogs

November 2016: Learning about Leadership through Life – with Duke Energy NC President David Fountain

May 2016: Seven Insights on Leadership, Success and Diversity from Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good

Feb 2015: Raleigh Chamber of Commerce CEO Harvey Schmitt shares about leadership and collaboration

May 2014: Exploring Leadership, Talent Development and Innovation with a Local Senior ABB Executive

March 2014: Leadership Advice from a Senior Lenovo Executive