We are delighted to be a partner of We Are Founders, who are on a mission to fuel and inspire the next generation of builders, thinkers and those that dare to do. We Are Founders share the stories of inspiring innovators, one of whom was our very own Jemma Simpson, CEO & Founder of DiverseTalent.ai. DiverseTalent completed the Raise Accelerator back in Spring 2022. Hear her story below.
Learn How Jemma Is Helping Candidates Find Workplaces That Value Diversity
Diversity and Inclusion is not a trend or a phase. Research has found that diverse workplaces and teams are happier, more productive, and produce better results.
It's no secret anymore. Diversity and inclusion in the workplace are vital for fostering innovation, creativity, and overall organisational success.
A diverse workforce brings together individuals with varied perspectives, experiences, and skills, driving the generation of fresh ideas and solutions. Inclusive environments ensure that every employee feels valued and empowered, contributing to higher morale and productivity. By embracing differences in race, gender, age, background, and more, companies cultivate a rich tapestry of perspectives that leads to better decision-making and a broader market reach.
Ultimately, prioritising diversity and inclusion not only enhances workplace culture but also positions businesses to thrive in an ever-evolving global landscape.
Curious to learn more, we had a chat with Jemma from diversetalent.ai. She shared her journey and how she's determined to even out the job application playing field.
Here's Jemma's journey, in her own words.
Can you tell us about your journey as a founder? What inspired you to start your own business?
Finding other people jobs has been my job for over 13 years, until one day I found myself seeking a new opportunity. This proved to be difficult for a queer business woman, as I couldn’t easily find companies DE&I stats or insights, had I not worked in recruitment I’d have had an even smaller understanding of the employment market.
So I decided to change that, in 2020 (yes the pandemic) I decided to build a unique recruitment agency that measures employers commitment to Diversity & Inclusion, so to ensure any job seeker I represented would be connected to an ethical employer. That was going brilliantly, until I realised that it would be best to have all of this information on a platform. DiverseTalent.ai was born. We’re fully bootstrapped and have invested all monies made in the service business into building the worlds first diversity driven hiring platform.
It’s been tough, not just building SaaS software but getting employers on our side, now our next hurdle is to raise £500k so we can launch our BETA into the UK and Ireland.
What challenges did you face in the early stages of your entrepreneurial journey? How did you overcome them?
Self doubt for sure, I was 29, it was the pandemic so I ended up being really isolated with just my dog & my thoughts for company. I’ve plenty of experience managing projects, building teams and launching new products, but I’m not an accountant, I’m not a software engineer, so I was very quickly humbled and scared by my lack of skills.
The best thing I did was sign up to The Princes Trust enterprise programme. They gave me a lot of support and helped filled my knowledge gap, I’m lucky to have friends in different industries so I worked my phone book and rang round for help, I owe a few pints still.
How did you identify the target market for your product/service? What made you confident that it would resonate with customers?
I’d worked in the industry for over 10 years, little did I know I was already deep in my market data analysis. The real confidence came when I was in the position like the hundreds I’d helped before me. Simple question, where can I, a female queer business woman be guaranteed the right work environment and embraced for my authentic self?
Indeed wasn’t showing me, LinkedIN jobs wasn’t showing me, several LGBTQ charity websites all lacked the information. So, I decided to build it.
What were some of the major obstacles you encountered while building your business? How did you navigate through those hurdles?
Money is obviously a massive roadblock, but I started in a pandemic and so I’d very few costs. I kept to a very basic life and still do now! It was more challenging to get employers onboard with my style of hiring, especially in Northern Ireland where DE&I is further behind than the rest of the UK.
Could you share a specific moment of doubt or failure you experienced along the way? How did you bounce back from it?
This year has been tricky, I’d to make quick & hard decisions to protect everything I’ve worked for. It wasn’t a failure but a moment of doubt in my own confidence to be a confident business leader, I was second guessing myself a lot to ensure I wasn’t over thinking or making issues bigger than what they where. I confided in seasoned founders and company directors, as well as a shit hot legal team, thankfully my decisions where 100% correct and DiverseTalent has succeeded astronomically since I made swift moves.
How did you approach scaling and expanding your business? What strategies did you employ to ensure sustainable growth?
Continuous innovation to lead to multiple revenue streams. We’re bootstrapped, and I’ve always been of the mindset that no one is going to give me money. So I had to make it myself. I question daily, is what we’re doing still innovative and relevant , is it still helping people? Before hiring anyone, I ensure I’ve their full years salary set aside, before launching a new feature we showcase it to 100s of people as an idea or wireframe. We’ve a risk register and update it regularly.
Did you face any scepticism or resistance from others when pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams? How did you handle it?
Yeah 100%! Everyone thought I was mad and I’d dare say people still resist what am doing. When we see employers shouting about the DE&I but don’t reply to our messages, or have told me quietly they don’t really have a DE&I initiative but know it looks good to have *something* they are all red flags and the ones who want us to fail.
Our purpose is to showcase the best companies to work for and support diverse demographics, we’re very vocal about this especially around LGBTQA+, a lot of folks don’t like that. I've had comments such as Go Woke Go Broke, and plenty of bot accounts commenting under our PRIDE media... but they can all GTF.
It’s the passionate thank yous for Trans people for getting them a job in the right company, it’s the employers who actively engage with us or use our bias tools, it’s the support from our community that drives us.
Can you describe a key decision you made that significantly impacted the trajectory of your business? What were the factors you considered?
I’m a recruiter at heart, and I’ve loved that job. But, I came to the realisation that I can no longer do both. DiverseTalent will always have a recruiter, but not me. I’m the Founder of a Tech company now and I have to fully concentrate on our Go To Market, Product Design, Investment Raise, Team and everything else.
I made my last placement at an amazing charity called Orchardville recently, little did they know, that’s my last for the foreseeable. Now that I’ve scaled back and just focused on being a Founder, we’ve raised £161k in grants, obtained multiple awards and are 9 months ahead of our tech timeline.
What advice would you give to aspiring founders who are just starting their entrepreneurial journey?
Don’t go it alone, build a network join a coworking hub and start making friends with other Founders.
What role has mentorship played in your entrepreneurial success? Were there any specific mentors who made a significant impact on your journey?
Mentorship and our community has built DiverseTalent. Without them, I’d still be sitting at the kitchen table talking to the dog. Founders in my industry like Michael Blakley at Equitas and Jenny Ervine at Raise Ventures have been pretty much my Day 1s. Without them, I’d have no clue what SEIS, Preseed or User Journey even is.
You can find out more about Diverse Talent at diversetalent.ai