Eskalera today unveiled the Inclusion Index, a new system for organizing companies that encourages and quantifies inclusive culture. Using organizational analytics, the Inclusion Index is aimed at real-time measurement of a company’s diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts. It also offers solutions and actionable steps to improve a company’s inclusiveness.
With unrest from police killings of unarmed Black men and the Black Lives Matter movement, companies are saying they want to meaningfully improve their diversity and inclusion. Now, those truly devoted to creating a sustainable change can receive three months of complimentary D&I training, the company said.
San Francisco-based Eskalera (which means “elevate” in Spanish) offers large and medium-sized companies a fully digital platform of insights and solutions for D&I, as well as the ability to measure performance over time. The platform also provides employees and managers with the knowledge and skills to build a more inclusive culture within individual relationships, teams, and the broader company.
“We view the data that we make available as valuable,” Dane Holmes, CEO of Eskalera, said in an interview with VentureBeat. “What’s more valuable — your social security number, or how you identify yourself as a human?”
The company also collects data that can help it understand people better.
“I would call this amplifying data,” Holmes said. “If we know someone is a single parent, that gives us extra information for understanding them and what makes them unique.”
Holmes said that since the unrest related to Black Lives Matter, interest in the subject of diversity and driving change has skyrocketed.
“The environment has shifted in a significant way,” he said. “In this moment, the conversation is not just about addressing the problem. It’s been about how you make your organization a more effective and better organization through research practices. It’s been exciting to see that. I feel, in a weird way, my whole life has been geared for this moment.”
The company’s products are already used by Cornell University, Oscar Health, and one of the largest financial institutions in the U.S., according to Eskalera.
Holmes said he tried to improve D&I in the investment banking industry while serving as head of human capital management at Goldman Sachs. He said while many companies track surface-level representation of underrepresented minorities, representation does not necessarily equate to inclusion, which is why so many efforts prove to be unsuccessful. To drive sustainable change, he said, companies need to undergo cultural change, and for that you need the right, high-quality measurements.
To fill this need in the corporate world, Eskalera generates real-time signals and metrics about employee sentiment through evidence-based micro-learning on diversity and inclusion. This data is married with core HR metrics to produce direct intelligence on the employee experience the company dubbed the Inclusion Index — a data fusion that leadership, chief diversity officers, and HR practitioners can use to drive systemic cultural change and to promote ongoing measurable progress.
Eskalera’s Inclusion Index
Derived from a wide variety of anonymous data points through employee feedback on sentiment and culture, and combined with other HR data, the Inclusion Index uses a machine learning system to generate a comparative “inclusivity score” for a company’s culture. Eskalera recognizes that data alone will not solve D&I or drive lasting cultural change. So the company offers HR teams an end-to-end solution that includes breaking down inclusion into measurable areas of trust, voice, growth mindset, and belonging.
“We’re collecting sentiment of people, like trust, belonging, voice, and growth mindset. This gives me a greater texture around understanding what drives people,” Holmes said. “It also helps me figure out how I can improve people’s sense of belonging or performance based upon these characteristics.”
Companies don’t have this information now. They don’t always track things like sentiment, which can be mined via anonymous surveys.
“You want a full data set, unifying everything like recruiting or compensation data or benefits data and learning data,” Holmes said. “You don’t have good measurement of diversity, which is often viewed through representation.”
For instance, you might have a lot of diversity among the secretarial ranks or in the mail room, but that isn’t exactly contributing to the inclusivity of the culture if the executive ranks aren’t diverse.
The system measures inclusion in real time over the course of an employee’s engagement, helping leaders to drive accountability. It overlays inclusion with traditional HR data to measure the impact on recruiting, promotion, retention, and productivity. The system even offers coaching at scale with micro-learning modules that teach inclusive skills, emotional intelligence, and leadership development.
Eskalera was created within Superset, a startup studio cofounded by Tom Chavez and Vivek Vaidya that builds and funds enterprise-ready companies. Chavez, who is also a cofounder of Eskalera, is one of a few Latinx tech entrepreneurs and investors; previously he launched and sold two startups, Krux and Rapt, to Salesforce and Microsoft respectively for $1.2 billion.
Along with Holmes, Eskalera’s five cofounders combine backgrounds in D&I, AI product building, and enterprise tech software to enact change in corporate America.
Tolonda Tolbert, cofounder and head of strategy and culture, has more than 20 years of experience in D&I strategy and implementation, including at Catalyst and the Anti-Defamation League. Cofounder and head of product Debra Kadner has decades of experience building software products for Salesforce and Microsoft. Cofounder and chief technology officer Roopak Gupta was the former vice president of engineering at Salesforce, where he built big data and machine learning products.
The company has 13 employees and was started in 2018. It has raised a private round and is seeking more funding.
Asked if he was optimistic, Holmes said, “Yes, I am optimistic for a couple of reasons. The ability to hold others accountable is much higher. And the ability for people to speak their opinions is much higher. And technology to tie it all together is there. Technology has enabled both information gathering and information dissemination. And the way that the discussion is being handled today is very different. It’s much more about systemic and structural problems, as opposed to micro issues. The discussion is more on the macro issue of how do we create structural change, how do we create an anti-racist culture.”