Think your company has an inclusive work culture? Might be time to reevaluate. Maybe. The boys sit down for a chat with Kanarys cofounder and COO Star Carter in hopes of getting to the heart of the matter.
We cover law firm tokenism, venture capital racism, and aspirational diversity goals (THIS DOESN'T FLOW QUITE RIGHT). It's a great discussion around inclusion, fundraising, and entrepreneurship.
PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION sponsored by:
Has it, has the change in the White House made you more optimistic or changed any of your views on the future?
Yeah, it's definitely made me more optimistic.
There's an old white guy in the White House. I don't know if you knew that, but there's an old white guy in the White House.
Hide your kids! Lock the doors! You're listening to HR’s most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheeseman are here to punch the recruiting industry, right where it hurts! Complete with breaking news, brash opinion and loads of snark, buckle up boys and girls, it's time for the Chad and Cheese podcast.
Oh yeah. Chad is tan, rested, and ready to podcast. What's up everybody? This is Joel Cheeseman. This is the Chad and Cheese podcast as always, I am joined by my loyal cohost, Chad Sowash and today we are honored to welcome the coolest name in the history of names on this podcast.
Star Carter Co-founder and CEO of Kanarys, graduate of Harvard law and a resident of Dallas, Star, welcome to the show.
Star (1m 6s):
Thank you. Thanks for having me today.
Joel (1m 8s):
What else should our audience know about you? That I forgot to cover there.
Star (1m 12s):
Oh, well you got all the high points.
Joel (1m 15s):
Star (1m 18s):
Joel (1m 19s):
A mother of two?
Star (1m 21s):
Mother of two, five and seven, seven years old.
Joel (1m 24s):
Anything else we like to go deep on this show?
Star (1m 29s):
Okay. Let's get deep! Spent about 12 years in the law firm life, so did private equity work and negotiating and drafting agreements. And that's where I really got into diversity equity and inclusion while I was there.
Chad (1m 42s):
Can we get into that real quick? Cause that doesn't make any sense to me, private equity, diversity and inclusion, and you know, as well as I do it is hard for females let alone black females or even any person of color to get funded in the first place. So how do those, how was there a divergence there?
Star (2m 1s):
You're right. Private equity is a peer almost a hundred percent white boy industry. What happened though is when you're in the law firm, when you're one of very few as African-American female, just like so many of us do, you get a tasked to do diversity, equity, and inclusion, right? You're the black female. You're one of few, Hey, I want you to join the recruiting committee, the women's committee, the diversity committee, and you really are tapped to do that stuff as one of few. So that's how I got interested in it and really learned about it when I was in the law firms space.
Joel (2m 34s):
That doesn't sound like an honor?
Chad (2m 37s):
Star (2m 38s):
Yeah. It's hard. It's not an honor per se, especially because you still have your expectations of your full kind of billable, right? As a lawyer, you have to bill time and they don't give any kind of leniency in that, but you're at the same time expected to do all this committee work, all this CEI work that you don't get any kind of credit for.
Chad (2m 57s):
Well, that's kind of like a corporate America and their employee resource groups where they want to be able to create these different segments to provide community per se. But there's generally no additional pay that goes to those individuals, more of an added task and/or job or role on top of what they already have to get done.
Star (3m 21s):
Yeah, I totally agree. I mean, ERG is a whole other topic. I think ERG is, can be done smart, right? If you actually have executive sponsorship and it gives the leaders of the ERG face-time in front of leadership, they would nevertheless ever be in front of it makes a lot of sense, right. For your professional advancement? If you could set it up in the right way. But if it's just really just a group, a support group, I agree with you. I think it can be set up in a way that doesn't really have any kind of value add.
Chad (3m 48s):
Yeah. Let's dig, let's dig into your background one more time. So law you're kind of volun-told to be a part of these committees and whatnot. And then you're a co-founder of a tech organization. How did tech get thrown in here and how did you guys actually move toward technology in the space of DEI?
Star (4m 8s):
Yeah, no great question. So yeah, most of my background's in law and what we saw as co-founders we, a lot of the time while I was in the law firm, my experience various inequities, like so many of us do. I hit the pinnacle of those inequities when I came up for partnership in the law firm and I was told that I needed to wait a year because I had taken too many maternity days, and that number was two, T-W-O.
Chad (4m 36s):
Star (4m 37s):
Yeah, I was, I know I was actually told that. Which of course upset me. And I ended up leaving shortly thereafter. And as I talked with my co-founders about their various experience, we got together and we said, you know what, something's gotta be done here. How do we close this gap? Because what we saw was an equity is being experienced, executive leadership, having no idea of what was going on in the field, right by most of the employees working at a specific company. How do we close that gap in communication, so that executive leadership actually has a sense of the lived experiences? And they can make DEI decisions based on the best information available.
Star (5m 18s):
And that's where we got into the task. How do we share those lived experiences in a way where folks don't have to worry about negative career ramifications.
Joel (5m 27s):
So tell us about Kanarys your company. On the tech side, what's your specialty? What kind of, what's the demographic of a client who uses you? What do they use you for? If I knew nothing about Kanarys, what would you tell me about?
Star (5m 42s):
Yeah. Yeah. So Kanarys we're black founded company. We start with the data analytics. So we do that through various assessments. We do that through an employer assessment where we're really understanding where is a company partner on their journey by looking at their systems, their policies, the procedures, asking specific questions about their hiring processes. Are, do you disclose pay bans? Are you asking applicants respect to their salary history, questions like that to really understand where they are in their DEI journey? Do they have paid maternity leave, things like that. And then we're also doing assessments from the perception of an employee understanding those lived experience. So asking them questions about, are they familiar with DEI initiatives?
Star (6m 27s):
Have they ever experienced anti-discrimination? Do they feel like they belong? Do they feel like they can go to their immediate manager if something were to happen and questions like that? And so we take all that information, we analyze that and we go from the analytics all the way through an insights report that really lays out those key findings and turn that into a recommendation plan. So we start with the data analytics, we go all the way through to recommendations, and then we help with strategy implementation of those recommendations.
Joel (7m 0s):
It sounds like a bit of a high-touch and high-tech business. Would that be correct?
Star (7m 4s):
Yeah. It's a mix of that. You know, when we first started to do that, you learn so much when you're entrepreneur, it was really a focus on the tech, right? Let's do these assessments. But what we found really quickly is that our company partners like, okay, great, this is such great information. What's next? What do we do now? These folks have to kind of look at you, like help us. And so then we ended up morphing into a mix, a mix of that strategy implementation and helping from a consulting services standpoint, but having that data analytics be front and center, so that strategy is specifically informed.
Joel (7m 37s):
So let's talk about raising money. I'm curious in the process as a whole, did you get seed when you started the company, did you sort of become profitable and then look to raise? You've raised a total of $4.6 million, which is incredibly impressive for anyone, but I assume that there are certain challenges that you faced or hurdles as a woman of color. And if so, feel free to talk about that.
Star (8m 0s):
Yeah. So we started off with what they call the pre-seed round, right? Friends and family. And of course in the African-American community, a lot that a lot of times is an issue in itself because we don't have family and fri