By: Jared Karol
In today’s Diversity & Inclusion Spotlight, we hear from Ilit Raz, Co-founder and CEO of Joonko, a personal AI-powered diversity and inclusion coach. Joonko helps get rid of unconscious bias in real time, to ensure a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Joonko has recently been welcomed into the Salesforce Incubator, a program focusing on AI innovation.
Change Catalyst: What motivates you to work towards an inclusive tech ecosystem?
Ilit: I spent 13 years as a woman in tech in Israel, and as best as I can remember I have been the only one in that time. Because of this experience, my focus is on gender diversity in tech — and less on racial diversity. And, this past year my two other co-founders have each had a baby girl, so they are all in for the commitment too. Creating a world where their girls can thrive is what motivates us as a team.
Change Catalyst: What are you currently working on to improve diversity and inclusion in tech?
Ilit: Joonko is an AI-based diversity and inclusion coach. We can connect to any SAAS platform in a company and do real-time analysis of micro events that are going on in the organization. We do this by receiving signals from these platforms that allow us to engage with executive managers, or other employees in the company, and provide recommendations and actions that they can follow up on. For example, we might send a personal email to a sales manager suggesting that he gives one of his team members more sales opportunities. This process helps mitigate unconscious bias.
Change Catalyst: What will be the biggest story around diversity and inclusion in 2017?
Ilit: I think there will be a bad story and a good story — and they’re related. Trump is for sure going to generate a lot of stories about diversity and inclusion like he’s been doing. On the good side, though, these actions are going to push more companies to do ten times what they did before — to make sure everything they’ve built so far doesn’t crash. We’re going to see a lot of big companies taking more action on diversity. For example, Marc Benioff is talking about equal pay for women by 2020. This is a big story that has rolled everything forward and we’re going to hear similar stories throughout this year, even with Trump in the White House.
Change Catalyst: What one key solution would make a huge difference in creating a more inclusive tech ecosystem?
Ilit: There are two things: One is leading by example — companies and leaders of companies not just talking, but actually implementing solutions. The other thing is pushing and growing this diversity technology ecosystem like we’ve built at Joonko — applying this technology to every sector in the world, from education to advertisements to security. In 2017, the time has come for us to start to use these technologies to help with diversity and inclusion issues.
Change Catalyst: What is the best example of leadership in inclusion you’ve seen recently?
Ilit: I talked to the CEO of company we wanted to work with and he said he liked our product because it is community based (like Uber or AirBnB). He wanted to see an improvement in his community that accurately represents how the real world looks. He transformed our internal solution into a solution that helps broader communities be more inclusive; he basically created a new product for us. He communicated the importance of seeing the community grow more inclusively within his company, and that was really different from most CEOs. Typically, CEOs hand us to a diversity person, or take other less direct actions, but he’s been really active in pushing this forward with his community. I think that was really impressive — a huge step with a lot of courage behind it.
Change Catalyst: Just for fun, what unique or unusual talent/skill do you have?
Ilit: I was talking to my six-year-old cousin. We made up a competition to see who can touch their nose with their tongue. All the cousins in the family can do it; it’s a talent and skill unique to our family. Every year when we come together we all take a photo and do it together.