Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 249. Today we’ll be talking to Charlotte from Inclusively about the use case or business case for why her customers choose Inclusively.
Inclusively’s workforce inclusion platform empowers employers with accommodations insights, access, training and support they need to attract and retain previously untapped talent.
Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think. Thanks, William
Show length: 26 minutes
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Announcer: 00:02 Welcome to RecruitingDaily’s Use Case Podcast, a show dedicated to the storytelling that happens, or should happen, when practitioners purchase technology. Each episode is designed to inspire new ways and ideas to make your business better as we speak with the brightest minds in recruitment and HR tech. That’s what we do. Here’s your host, William Tincup.
William : 00:26 Ladies and gentlemen, this William Tincup, and you are listening to the Use Case Podcast. Today we have Charlotte on from Inclusivity. We’ll be talking about the use case, the business case that our prospects use to purchase Inclusivity, so let’s just jump right into it. Charlotte, would you do us a favor and introduce both yourself and Inclusivity?
Charlotte: 00:46 Yep. I’m Charlotte. I am one of the co-founders and CEO of Inclusively, and I started this company a few years ago. My cousin became the first licensed facialist in the state of Florida with Down syndrome, and after getting my first facial from her, I noticed that it was very easy and free for her employers to make some slight adjustments to her working environment, and obviously the incredible impact that it had on her career, and so I wanted to figure out: how can we use technology to make it really, really, really easy for employers to accommodate candidates at scale?
01:27 So fast forward to now. We’ve launched at the end of 2020, and we’re a platform that helps employers access candidates with disabilities and provide them accommodations in a really seamless and easy way.
William : 01:44 I love it. You used the word accommodations or accommodate four times, and A, it’s refreshing, because I have kids that need accommodations at school, so it’s good to hear that the word, but it is also kind of nice to make it mainstream for HR and for recruiting. What have you found as you’ve talked to people and mentioned accommodations? What’s been the reception for you?
Charlotte: 02:14 I think that traditionally, employers have viewed accommodations from the lens of legal and compliance.
William : 02:21 Right.
Charlotte: 02:21 And they’ve viewed it really reactively, so you only react if someone requests one, but there’s not really a proactive strategy, both internally, within the team that manages accommodations, but also if you think about it, if one of your children, they request an accommodation at school, they’re not sent through a legal and compliance process. The teachers at the front door are accommodating them, and so I think that’s one of the biggest shifts. And one of the biggest impacts that employers can have is making accommodations ubiquitous across their organization and making it everyone’s responsibility to know how to accommodate different people, because at the end of the day, accommodations don’t just benefit people with disabilities. They benefit everyone.
03:06 And so what we’ve seen in terms of the perception of the word “accommodations” is that initially and early on, we found that a lot of people just immediately wanted to call their lawyer, but I think now people are starting to realize, and COVID really helped accelerate this, that everyone wants accommodations, and lots of people can benefit from them. And especially, as you mentioned your children, kids are now growing up in an education system that accommodates them, and so they’re graduating and going on to work at employers where they’re expecting to be accommodated, as well.
03:43 And so the need and the drive to be able to accommodate people at scale is not just altruistic and doing the right thing, but it’s becoming mainstream for this next generation of the workforce.
William : 03:59 I love that. Let’s unpack that, accommodations in general, but more specifically what you’re doing to help your recruiters and HR find talent. You can see it becoming at least painted with a brush of, “Oh, this is the nice thing to do. This is a good thing to do.”
Charlotte: 04:17 Yeah.
William : 04:19 And I’d like to skip through that to the, “This is actually really business savvy.” You’re opening up a talent pool that previously you probably wouldn’t have been or had access to. This is just smart. First of all, again, it’s just me talking, what’s been your range of how you’ve seen prospects and customers position it internally?
Charlotte: 04:46 I think you’re absolutely right. We can get in the door and get a meeting because it sounds like what we’re doing is the right thing to do and the nice thing to do.
William : 04:56 Right.
Charlotte: 04:57 But at the end of the day, we’re not closing deals for that reason. Especially when you’re selling into HR, it’s hard for them to part with their dollars. They’re not funded as abundantly as other, maybe revenue generating parts of the business, which is ironic, because ultimately people are generating the revenue. But I actually find this as a good thing, because in my opinion, charitable initiatives, they’re great at bringing awareness and helping drive the change, but business is what’s sustainable.
05:32 And so I think we’ve really been pushed over the past few years to define the business case and to move past just, “Oh, everyone’s talking about DEI. You should, too,” but to actually make these hires and see the benefits. I can jump in and talk about some of the ways in which we articulate that to our customers.
William : 05:58 Yeah, let’s do that. Let’s start there, because I have a couple of things. Go ahead.
Charlotte: 05:59 I think one of the things that we already touched on, but the workforce is shifting. Over 50 percent of the workforce is now Gen Z and Millennials, and they’re 10 times more likely to leave their job because of the toxic culture. And the number one reason that they’re citing a toxic culture is failure to promote diversity, equity and inclusion.
06:22 In order for a company to remain competitive and attracting and retaining the talent of the next generation, they actually have to become more inclusive in their practices and broaden their processes so that the same pattern matching that’s been working for decades, it enables some people to be successful, but we need to enable everyone to have the chance of being successful at getting hired. And I think the next generation of the workforce is demanding that, which means it puts the onerous on businesses to actually act on it if they want to be able to remain competitive in terms of talent.
07:02 I also think that another business case, and we find this a lot with some of the high volume, high turnover jobs that we do, so in customer support, call center, people with disabilities are proven to have a far higher retention rate. It’s not because they have a disability. It’s because when you accommodate someone, you’re making them more productive and successful, and so therefore, they’re happier and more loyal in their position, so that kind of practice could be replicated across the entire organization, opening up the ability to be flexible with people so that they can be loyal, happy, productive, and successful.
07:41 And I think then there’s the other costs that are associated with high turnover that you can really start to quantify as you embed a program like Inclusively at your company, and comparing the turnover rates between our candidates and others, and seeing how that’s impacting the cost associated with recruiting and training and productivity loss, et cetera.
William : 08:09 I love it. One of the things that you brought up is the access to this talent pool. And I wanted to, for the audience sake, give us some insight into this talent pool. How are they similar? How are they different? What are some of the rules of the road, if we will? What are some of the things that we need to know about interacting with this talent pool?
Charlotte: 08:32 Firstly, the disability spectrum is so broad. There’s lots of companies that have autism at work programs and the autism spectrum is incredibly broad, so we cover anything from autism and Down Syndrome to stress, anxiety, depression, PTSD, chronic illnesses, physical disabilities, everything. There’s not one size fits all, which is why we believe our platform makes it really easy to be flexible at scale across many, many different use cases.
William : 09:03 Right.
Charlotte: 09:03 But I think that in terms of what’s the same, I think a lot of people, and the way I feel like the government has the current system set up, it’s just get them a job. But people with disabilities are the same as everyone. You want career progression, you want to feel valued and productive, and it shouldn’t be treated as simply hiring someone is checking the box. It’s all the same things that any other candidate would want.
09:36 I think what’s different is that when you can accommodate someone in the interview, that’s a big thing that’s been overlooked in the past. Of course, you can have the physical accommodations. Many of them are legally required in facilities. But things like giving people information ahead of time for an interview. If you’re using a screen reader, that’s going to be incredibly helpful to be able to digest information before getting onto a call where maybe you’re going to have to be using a screen reader and speaking at the same time. For people with autism, it would be maybe adjusting a panel interview so that you’re having one-on-ones instead of a panel, if you don’t perform well in a big group.
10:17 I think what people should know at a high level is that you should be asking anyone you interview if they require accommodations, because if you open that door, it’s more likely that they’re going to feel comfortable actually disclosing to you what could make them more successful, and that, in turn, should turn into a more productive interview and a more transparent, open relationship, should the person get hired.
William : 10:45 One of the things about accommodations, on one level, you have to know what you need to thrive.
Charlotte: 10:54 Yeah.
William : 10:55 Right? So some of this is a personal Odyssey, to find out, “Okay, well, what are those things that I need to thrive? Not just survive or do okay.” But also then I’ve got to not only be able to inventory, understand those things, I’ve then got to communicate those things to others, be to my personal life, and in this case, my professional life. On one level, I want to ask you the question of, how do we help candidates with that, or do we? And B is how do we educate employers, recruiters, and HR in particular on how to have accommodations conversations comfortably about yourself, about them, et cetera, to then get to the nexus of what do you really need to thrive?
Charlotte: 11:51 Right. You’re absolutely right. One of the things that we realized early on is that because this process has been so disjointed in the past, candidates with disabilities don’t even often know they can request accommodations, nor what accommodations would be available to them. One of the things we’re building into our platform is the ability to recommend accommodations to candidates, either based on input or data they give us about them, or just simply based on the types of jobs they’re looking for and what accommodations we know should be able to be reasonably made for those roles. Helping them actually define some of the things that can make them more successful in an interview or on the job.
12:34 And then on the other end, shipping that information, once they have disclosed, over to employers, equipped with micro trainings, where based on the candidate you’re looking at, you can see, “What is this accommodation? How do I provide it? Why would someone ask for this? What are the benefits of people that ask for this accommodation?” Oftentimes, you’ll have people who ask for a certain accommodation. It makes them excel in something even beyond what you would expect from a candidate. And so we give them the empathy as a service where they can actually create an understanding before meeting someone based on personalized to the candidate they’re about to meet. And we believe this is a game changer in terms of actually shifting people’s behavior versus relying on annual trainings to change people’s behavior when the time presents itself.
13:29 At a high level, though, when we do onboard companies, we do have an onboarding process that involves more high level trainings, like how do you talk to people and ask about their accommodations? What to say, what not to say, just to get people comfortable and confident in being able to engage with candidates. But at the end of the day, it’s about meeting candidates, understanding them, providing accommodations, and it’s a flywheel. The more accommodations you provide on the interview, the more likely you’ll end up having candidates with disabilities be successful, and providing more accommodations internally, and that just will build a more inclusive culture, which will mean more candidates get placed in the future.
William : 14:12 How do we talk eloquently about the visible versus invisible parts of both disability, but also the accommodations that would go along with that? Sometimes it’s easier. I grew up legally blind, so every time I’d feel sorry for myself, I’d see someone that’s actually blind.
Charlotte: 14:31 Yeah.
William : 14:34 Shocking, not shocking. Then I wouldn’t feel as bad as I did before. But that’s visible.
Charlotte: 14:40 Yeah.
William : 14:40 That’s something I could see. I could see somebody with a cane. I could see somebody that was blind so I could see that, but there’s a whole host of things that are invisible to people. So, again, having that individual be able to audit, understand those things, communicate those things, and also to have the discussion with people that maybe aren’t as familiar with visible versus invisible disabilities.
Charlotte: 15:09 Yeah. I think that’s one of the norms we’re trying to break, which is that historically candidates have been told, “If you can, hide it until you get a job offer.”
William : 15:19 Right.
Charlotte: 15:20 Which actually, in many instances, if you speak to someone who has a visible disability or an invisible, there’s pros and cons to both in their view, if someone just knows, then you don’t have to explain. But on the other side, if you’re able to hide it, maybe that gives you better opportunity to actually get the job and then you can disclose afterwards. But I think that in terms of getting people comfortable with, and I think especially invisible, one of the norms we’re trying to change is you should disclose up front, and our candidates do that on our platform, because they know that we’re using that data and giving it to the employer with the ability to respond.
William : 16:08 Right.
Charlotte: 16:09 And that’s the difference. On any other site, why would you disclose? You don’t know who’s on the other end and what they’re going to do with the information, whereas we’ve built a trust bond with our candidates that if you’re disclosing this to us and you’re going to apply for a job, employers are just receiving your resume, but they’re receiving these accommodation requests with information on how to provide them and how to shift potential processes in order to accommodate them.
William : 16:40 What a terrible position to be in, in terms of needing an accommodation, not lying, it’s lying via omission, but having to be put in that situation to get the job so that then you could eventually talk about the accommodation that you’re going to need or at least get around to.
Charlotte: 17:00 Or quietly suffer without it.
William : 17:04 Or quietly suffer, which is horrible. Let’s talk a little bit about tech, because that’s one of the things you started off with, is actually trying to fix this using tech. What’s your favorite part of showing or demoing Inclusively to people?
Charlotte: 17:25 I would say it is showing the beginning of the user journey, where you can pick the different accommodations, and then how that gets presented to the employer, because when you actually go through the list, people will be like, “Wait, hang on, stop there.” Because they’re looking at this list and they’re like, “Wait,” I think initially people’s perception is that accommodations are physical things that cost a lot of money.
William : 17:53 Right.
Charlotte: 17:53 Like putting in another elevator.
William : 17:56 Right.
Charlotte: 17:56 And instead it’s like, “No, there’s things like bringing your support animal or apps for anxiety or all these things that are under $500 or free.” And I think that it’s really interesting when we’re demoing that, and people will be like, “Wait, hang on. That’s an accommodation? That’s something we do already.” And they don’t realize that by actually not just having it be something that happens reactively, but proactively, you can attract more candidates with disabilities. This is an asset to you. And I think accommodations will eventually become a company’s currency to attracting and retaining talent. The more flexible you are and the more adaptive you can be to different people’s needs, the more high rated you will be as an employer.
William : 18:45 I agree with you, especially if it’s genuine.
Charlotte: 18:48 Yeah.
William : 18:49 Like a lot of things, if it’s not genuine and it’s found out that it’s not genuine, then it could backfire on you. But if it’s genuine, it’s actually who you are, I could see executives talking about their accommodations.
Charlotte: 19:04 Exactly.
William : 19:05 In a very proactive way, in their bio, and when they talk to folks, and then that opens up a door for everyone else to then say, “Well, if she and he’s willing to then talk about it, then we can talk about it.” And again, once you talk about it, then you can get into the, “Okay, well, what are some of the things we need to do to change things?”
Charlotte: 19:30 Yeah. I think you just made a good point about starting at the top. An accommodation doesn’t have to be associated with someone who is identified as having a disability.
William : 19:42 Right.
Charlotte: 19:47 We hired someone off of our own platform recently who presented us with, I think she called it her user manual, and it was about her personality, how she works well, et cetera. And I was like, “I need to do this for our team.”
William : 20:03 Yeah, yeah.
Charlotte: 20:03 And then everyone else should feel comfortable to just kind of disclose, “This is the type of person I am. I get triggered by these things, but I’m good at these things.” And I actually think it’s something we’ve started thinking about. How can we put this into the product, where we’re encouraging people at the highest level to start cascading these down?
William : 20:25 Right.
Charlotte: 20:25 Because ultimately, that’s accommodations. It’s different for everyone.
William : 20:32 It’s ubiquitous. Everyone needs them.
Charlotte: 20:33 Yeah.
William : 20:34 It’s just how you define what you need is completely different than maybe how I would or someone else. But the idea is to make the language so mainstream that HR and recruiters are openly talking about their own accommodations.
Charlotte: 20:52 Yeah.
William : 20:52 While they’re creating job descriptions and hiring for other people.
Charlotte: 20:57 Yeah. Our vision is to create one front door for everyone.
William : 21:03 Oh, that’s nice.
Charlotte: 21:05 If we can level the playing field for people with disabilities, as you said, if we make asking for accommodations and talking about them the norm across everyone.
William : 21:14 For the first time person, let’s say, is it easier for them to hire, or do you see it play out the way that the accommodations that they’ve done, the accommodations that they know, maybe accommodations that they’ve already kind of put in place, is it easier for them to find and go after talent that needs those accommodations? Now, the question is diversification amongst your accommodations, right? Is that important or do you see that play out?
Charlotte: 21:48 This industry, diversity and inclusion in general and accommodations, I think it’s still so in its infancy, it’s so different.
William : 21:56 Right.
Charlotte: 21:58 The way people do it at every other company. What I will say is that people are very inclined, what you were saying about if they already provide accommodations, they’re just trying to double down on that.
William : 22:10 Right.
Charlotte: 22:10 I think autism at work, while I think it’s amazing that the use case for how valuable candidates with autism are at companies, the use case is very small. Not everyone with autism can be an engineer.
William : 22:25 Right.
Charlotte: 22:26 But we see companies really wanting to go to that place immediately as the starting point, and I think it’s great, because it gets early success really quickly, and then it’s our job to replicate that success across the organization. That’s how I view it. I think that with some of the high volume, high turnover jobs, like customer support and call centers, those, in my opinion, are better to start with because there’s going to be a more variety of accommodations. You’re not going to just be attracting candidates with autism, you’ll attract all different kinds, which gives them more variety and experience accommodating different people, which makes it easier to replicate it across other areas of the organization.
William : 23:10 Love it. Most recent favorite customer story, without brand names or customer names or anything like that, but just the way that a customer has used the platform and that you just absolutely love what they’ve done.
Charlotte: 23:23 One of our earliest customers, they were one of the first ones, so we very much handheld them a lot, because we were trying to learn, too. They were trying to learn. We were super early, and I think that one of the more recent stories is, we don’t know everyone they’re hiring from our platform anymore.
William : 23:51 Wow.
Charlotte: 23:51 We used to know everything. We would be checking in, “Heard you’re interviewing this person,” on top of them, really trying to push them along. And I think the best is when a company starts hiring people and we just learn about it later. Actually, in this case, we learned about one of the hires that hadn’t been communicated to us because the candidate wrote in and said, “I’m 35 years old, and this is the first time I’m ever having health benefits as part of my package.” Which is amazing.
24:25 And it just shows how this company has just evolved over the past two years, and I think that’s really, really important for all companies to understand, is this isn’t turn the switch on and you’ll hire a hundred people. It’s a journey, and I think we’ve started signing multi-year deals with really big companies, and that’s a really good sign that people are now understanding diversity doesn’t just get fixed with access to pipeline. It’s going to evolve over time and it requires work and change.
William : 24:58 Love it. Last thing is questions that prospects should ask Inclusively. What questions do you love to hear from prospects? Or the opposite, questions that you hate to hear?
Charlotte: 25:16 I love to hear, “How are you going to help us do X, Y, and Z?” It goes back to what I was just saying.
William : 25:25 Right.
Charlotte: 25:25 And X, Y, and Z is not hire 100 candidates. It’s like, “How are you going to help us understand the best way to accommodate people?” Or, “Is there a service for this type of accommodation that we should use?” Those questions indicate to me that they understand how to be successful, versus focusing on end result number before doing the work themselves. It’s a two way street. This problem wouldn’t exist if all you needed was access to the candidates. They’re already applying to your jobs. They’re just getting filtered out of the process at various different stages. I think the questions I love getting asked are about how to help them change, because that’s ultimately what we have to do.
William : 26:13 Drops mic, walks off stage. Charlotte, thank you so much. This has been wonderful.
Charlotte: 26:18 Yeah. Thank you. It’s fun.
William : 26:20 Absolutely. And thanks for everyone listening to the Use Case Podcast. Until next time.
Announcer: 26:26 You’ve been listening to RecruitingDaily’s Use Case Podcast. Be sure to subscribe on your favorite platform and hit us up at recruitingdaily.com.
William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.