AXSChat Podcast

AXSChat Podcast with Charlotte Dales founder and CEO of Inclusively.

November 08, 2022 Antonio Santos, Debra Ruh, Neil Milliken talk with Charlotte Dales
AXSChat Podcast with Charlotte Dales founder and CEO of Inclusively.
AXSChat Podcast
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AXSChat Podcast
AXSChat Podcast with Charlotte Dales founder and CEO of Inclusively.
Nov 08, 2022
Antonio Santos, Debra Ruh, Neil Milliken talk with Charlotte Dales

Charlotte Dales is the founder and CEO of Inclusively.  After working for five years at Deutsche Bank, Charlotte co-founded CAKE Technologies, a mobile payment app that was acquired by American Express in 2017.  
In 2020, she launched Inclusively, the professional network and employment platform for candidates with disabilities to connect with inclusive employers. She was inspired by her cousin, Cameron Northup, who became the first licensed aesthetician in Florida with Down syndrome. Inclusively has established partnerships with several Fortune 500 companies and placed candidates across the US. Charlotte graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder and lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, daughter, and son.

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Show Notes Transcript

Charlotte Dales is the founder and CEO of Inclusively.  After working for five years at Deutsche Bank, Charlotte co-founded CAKE Technologies, a mobile payment app that was acquired by American Express in 2017.  
In 2020, she launched Inclusively, the professional network and employment platform for candidates with disabilities to connect with inclusive employers. She was inspired by her cousin, Cameron Northup, who became the first licensed aesthetician in Florida with Down syndrome. Inclusively has established partnerships with several Fortune 500 companies and placed candidates across the US. Charlotte graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder and lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, daughter, and son.

Support the Show.

Follow axschat on social media
Twitter:

https://twitter.com/axschat
https://twitter.com/AkwyZ
https://twitter.com/neilmilliken
https://twitter.com/debraruh

LinkedIn
https://www.linkedin.com/in/antoniovieirasantos/
https://www.linkedin.com/company/axschat/

Vimeo
https://vimeo.com/akwyz




This is a draft transcript produced live at the event and corrected for spelling and basic errors. It is not a commercial transcript and will need to be checked if you wish to publish it. AXSCHAT Charlotte Dales

NEIL:

Hello and welcome to Axschat. Delighted that we are joined today by Charlotte Dales who is the co-founder and CEO of Inclusively, which is a platform aimed at helping people with disabilities get into jobs and helping employers get talent from the disability community because this is something that's really close to my heart and Debra's, Antonio's too. So, delighted to have you with us today Charlotte it's a testament to the power of Debra's other show, Human Potential at Work. I was actually listening to that show, heard you talking on there and said oh, we need to have Charlotte on and talking about what she's doing on Axschat. So, welcome. Tell us a bit about yourself, how you came to be working in this field and you know, what is Inclusively?

CHARLOTTE:

Well, thank you for having me. I am excited to be here as well. So, I got started on Inclusively a few years ago. I actually was living over in London for ten years, I started and sold my first tech start up over there. And while I was starting to sell my first company, my cousin became the first licenced facialist in the State of Florida with Down Syndrome, so she gives facials at a local salon. So, after getting my first facial from her, I knew this would be my next company. It was just incredibly clear to me, not only that she was able to achieve such a far greater potential than she had been told she was capable of all these years, but also when I actually went into get the facial I noticed that her employer only had to make some slight adjustments to her working environment to make her successful. So, what I wanted to figure out is how can we use technology to make it really, really seamless and easy for employers to accommodate candidates’ unique requests at scale across the disability spectrum. So, everything from Down Syndrome and autism to stress, anxiety, depression, PTSD and physical disabilities and everything in between.

NEIL:

Excellent. So, glad that you enjoyed the UK so much that you had to flee back to America.

CHARLOTTE:

I become a citizen before I left.

NEIL:

Great. So, we are firm believers in helping people and we recognise people's potential. We think it is a real challenge for business to really work out to know what they need to do to do this stuff. I mean, I work for a large corporation and am involved in running all of those kinds of programmes but frequently talk to other large corporations as well and there a range of different responses that you get from people ranging from the well, we don't think there are people with the skills. We'd like to but we don't think there are people with the skills, to well, we'd like to but how and we'd like to, but we can't find the candidates, how do we source them, you know are we looking in the wrong place. So, how do you address some of those issues?

CHARLOTTE:

Yeah. So, I think you know one of the biggest things that we have come up against early on was the first point you made which people just have a very narrow lens of what the word disability means and that it's one type of person and that person can only do these certain types of jobs. But ultimately someone with a disability can do any job at any company it just depends on what their disability is, what their skillset is and what accommodations they need and what are the skill sets of the job and what accommodations can reasonably be made for that job. And so, the second piece is then, you know because people have such a narrow lens around what, you know jobs should be made available for people with disabilities, then the whole how do we get candidates with disabilities comes into play because they are making all these one off partnerships and sort of having to cherry pick different jobs for people and it's more charitable than real inclusion. So, what we found is that, and then I'll say a third point. If you get past those two things, the third people will say is we are not ready yet. As if there is something, a decision that you as a company get to make if you're ready or not to hire people with disability. So, we sort of hit all three of those objections, you can call them, with our product. So, firstly, we are working with and targeting candidates across the disability spectrum. So, we work with all the non-profits, government agencies, training programmes that you know help across the spectrum of disability. And we aggregate all of those candidates in the one place. So, that there is actually one place shop for employers to access the demographic really seamlessly, this avoids them having to make the decision of what skills do these people have is how they ask it and we say it doesn't matter because now we are collecting all these candidates and we know what skills they have and what accommodations they need and then on the other side we are pulling the jobs from the employer side and we know what skills the job needs and we are able to understand, based on the job description, what accommodations they should reasonably be able to make. So, we move a lot of that subjectivity out of the way for the employer, just by virtue of having candidates who are comfortable self-disclosing their accommodations ahead of applying, which is something they have traditionally been told not to do you know, because they are worried that that it will be a disadvantage for them to get the job. However, they know on our platform all of our candidates, all of our employers are actually trying to access these candidates, so they are comfortable self-disclosing ahead of time which means there is a lot more that can be done to make the experience more seamless having transparency between both sides. And on the third element, where people will say we are not ready yet, we are not just sending candidates accommodations over to the employer. But we are sending what the accommodation is. How to provide it. Why someone might ask for it and they have access into our success. We can accommodations success enablers. They have access into our success enablement chat. So, if they are about to interview someone, they say, you know they asked for this interview accommodation, can you make sure I'm doing this correctly. So, they are actually learning by virtue of it's being woven into the process of actually meeting real candidates and real experience versus relying on annual diversity trainings to change people's behaviour when you need them to change.

ANTONIO:

Charlotte, I'm very interested in to see how that the relationship between the candidate and the owner of the organisation is being managed because we know that many organisations have HR teams that are not particularly ready to understand the context of people with disability. They might not even be ready to interview somebody with a disability. How do you make sure that the individuals that are being interviewed and the people doing the interview that somehow one, are not [unclear] the expectation of the others and the others really know what to do when they are in the interview?

CHARLOTTE:

Yeah, so when we on board our customers, we have a series of 12 trainings. We annually allow customers to choose six. But three of them are mandatory. So, we have three courses that everyone has to take. And then the other three, based on progress, we'll decide maybe what they need to focus more on. But the first three are around how to have an inclusive culture for people with disabilities. How to interview people with disabilities and how to combat ableism and everyone has to take those three before they start working with us. Those are more of a traditional, you know kind of higher-level introductory training. But then as I said, when the candidates are applying for jobs at these companies, they are getting, they are applying on our website, but we are routing that application directly through the company’s existing applicant tracking system. So, when they pick up that resume, they'll see that it's an Inclusively resume that the candidates requested recommendations and they can click in and see the candidate’s profile, their accommodations and then they can click into the individual accommodations and see, why you know why, is huge. Why would someone ask for this. First, let's make people understand each other better. Why would someone ask for this? You know what are different ways in which you can offer this accommodation and then, as I said they then can also reach out to someone on our team through our chat and you know ask additional questions. So, they have almost someone, it's almost like guided learning through the process and making sure that you know at a high level we train them at the onset. But, to me, the real value is they meet someone, they provide an accommodation in the interview even and they, there is always like a light bulb where they are like, oh, we didn't have to do a panel interview or that was really easy because I just adjusted this one thing and it was free and not a big deal and it's like they start to see that actually providing accommodations, as long as you learn and understand what they are, aren't that hard or expensive or disruptive to make.

ANTONIO:

So, they are hired. They get into the job. They might receive some training, that's usually the normal things. Employees will have a kind of a journey within their employer and to their life cycle. How do you make sure that then when they are in, they have the accommodations, how can we assure retention and know, at the moment doing the interview, the candidate was able to meet an HR person. But after that they are going to meet a manager and other employees for that organisation. How can we achieve success there as well?

CHARLOTTE:

So, we, I guess let's of companies are different. Most, they start with HR but eventually they are needing a hiring manager, which is someone they are going to be working with and accommodation information gets passed on to everyone involved but, we also have a training around on boarding people with disabilities but most importantly anyone at any of the companies we work with can access our platform and can receive support from us along the way. So, we actually don't care if it's someone that's newly disclosed at your company that didn't come through us. You can reach out to our success enablement chat and say hey we actually don't have this product or service do you have a recommendation or how do you suggest I handle this new request and then I'll say another thing is, you know, when people talk about not being ready, the best way to become ready is to start collect the data around what accommodations are people asking for, instead of guessing what you need to do to be ready. Another value to our product is, you know, we may send a hundred applicants for a job, and you may only interview two but what you're collecting is, for that job, what were the most commonly requested accommodations for the interview. What were the most commonly requested accommodations for the on the job and as you think about, if you start collecting that for all your jobs, which people aren’t really disclosing in normal processes they are actually able to start also sorting out on there some of the things that you just said, with real data to see, you know, okay, after six months what were all the requests that we got for all of the applications that were submitted? Do we have a process for these? Do we have a service for these? What was the cost structure for these, and they start to realise there are a lot of commonalities, that a lot of them are really easy and very few of them are costing money and if they do cost money, it's $500 or less.

NEIL:

So, that data is really useful, and I think that it helps remove some of the that fear of we don't know what to do and we don't know how to handle it, you know it's too hard. Maybe we can't do it, so maybe we'll just not bother this time and the next time and the next time and that's how it perpetuates. Do you publish anonymised data on some of these things in terms of you know, what are the most commonly requested accommodations because I think that that is useful to the wider community, you know regardless of whether or not they are your immediate customer base.

CHARLOTTE:

Yeah, so we launched a couple of years ago. We are starting to do a lot of that now. So, we have, you know access to data if you're a customer, but actually starting to now aggregate all the different data together and start to understand per industry, per job type. What are the most common requested accommodations. We haven't really done anything big yet in terms of like publicly producing a report. But that's something we plan to do next year. Now, that we have like, we really started selling this year and now we have a full year of data across 50 clients that we work with.

NEIL:

Okay and are your clients all US based?

CHARLOTTE:

Yes, so most of them all have offices you know globally but we have started in the US and one of other focuses for next year is to start work a lot of them, I mean, the regulations abroad outside of the US are, there's a lot more clarity around you know what you should be doing and actually penalties for not doing it. And so, a lot of our companies like Sales Force and you know, these global brands are wanting to push us abroad because not only do they have lots of jobs over there. But they also have more penalties for not complying. And so, what we are looking to do is actually get a cohort of some of our existing clients that will launch with us, start launching with us around Europe. What we don't want to do is have to, we don't want to launch to the candidates and not have the jobs yet. So, we want to prepopulate with at least five to ten employers. So, that when we go execute our current candidate acquisition strategy, across all the existing infrastructure non-profits etc that exist over there, as well as the digital marketing channels that we turn on. There's actually something there for them to immediately start engaging with. So, that's another thing that we are working on for next year.

NEIL:

Yeah, I think that it's good to know. You know because, from a selfish point of view, we are a European.

CHARLOTTE:

Over a hundred thousand employees we have got working with you.

NEIL:

No, but I'm interested in the one of the comments that you made was about you know people being pigeon holed into certain types of jobs and actually one of the challenges that we face in Europe with these penalty structures is that actually they tend to create an eco-system where people get pigeon holed into certain types of jobs because they create sort of special companies and I think they really yeah, and one of the things I'm really passionate about is actually avoiding doing that and creating an eco-system where you assume competence and capability with support. And you make the assumption that someone is competent and then you find out what they need in order to perform at their best. So, I think that really curious to know about the sort of main recruiting channels as well because I think that sometimes even the DPO's, the Disabled Person's Organisations have low expectations of the people that they are representing and so they are putting them forward for the kinds of jobs that mean that they don't have those equity and career expectations and the promotion prospects that you would have had you not disclosed your disability. So, those are some of the things that I am really interested in seeing whether or not you've managed to solve some of it with your existing clients in the US and would be very interested to see how that might work in Europe.

ANTONIO:

Charlotte, just let me add something to what Neil was saying in relation to Europe is that sometimes people with disabilities end up in jobs but in reality, nobody sees them in the organisation. They are somewhere in the organisation, but they are not really visible.

CHARLOTTE:

Charitable hire.

ANTONIO:

So, how can we change that? Because that's really important for diversity that can affect innovation in many other sectors?

CHARLOTTE:

So, we completely agree. I think our vision as a company is to create one front door. We don't want a door for people with disabilities and jobs for people with disabilities and then everyone else gets to sit over here, like you said they are not even incorporated into the organisation in many cases. So again, how we are solving from that, one, I am trying to think which one should come first. One is because people have always been traditionally told not to disclose their disability if they don't have to many people don't even know what accommodations they could be asking for. And that's huge. So, on the candidate’s side we don't just help employers decide what accommodations to make and how to make them, we help candidates figure out based on the types of jobs that they might be interested in, what accommodations can be made for those jobs. So that you can ask for them. So, actually we are recommending to them what accommodations they can have. So, helping them, you know to be more prepared for the interview and understand how they'll be more successful for those different types of roles, so that they're not just pigeonholed into the roles and in terms of the providers which you were asking for Neil, it's the same thing. They have also been told to try and get people in before you know asking for an accommodation etc. and also the eco system to you know find training programmes and support programmes etc for people with disabilities, it's so fragmented. So, if you think you're a government appointed job coach, you know, like where are you even going to find out where can this person get trained, or where can this person get a job or what job would be good for this person, it's incredibly manual and incredibly fragmented. So, what we're also doing is that for candidates that are coming in that maybe have no experience or they're just coming out of the education system we are not only aggregating jobs under the platform but we're also aggregating all the different types of training programmes, support programmes, development programmes that are accessible to people with disabilities. So, if they are not ready for a job or they know what type of field they might be interested in, they can actually look for a service where they can get trained etc and then loop back into the platform to go look for a job. So, what we are trying to do is Antonio to your point, figure out you know, not just take the path of least resistance and shove all people with disabilities into a subset of five jobs. I mean, they are just like everyone else. They probably want, you know my cousins always wanted to be in a beauty and make up, that is, she has always been obsessed with that and for so many years she was working at a salon and folding towels. And she was happy to do it. But, clearly she was capable of so much more. And so, what we are trying to do is help identify you know, what do people want to do and is there a training program that we can recommend to you so that you can get some training behind your belt and apply for an entry level position at a company in that field. So, you know there are tonnes of for low vision and for people who are blind there is a lot of sales force training programmes so they can become sales force admins. That's a huge job at virtually every big company. So, you know there is so much innovation happening in this space of not just like helping employers figure out how to hire people but also upskilling people and you know giving them a pathway to like a career that will progress over time, just like everyone else is looking for.

NEIL:

Yeah, excellent. So, a couple of things, you mentioned before that you had the same, one front door. So, are you actually directly interfacing with the sort of major recruitment platforms or you're having to send. So, you have a data interface into things like subsectors and various other different major platforms so that recruiters aren't having to go outside.

CHARLOTTE:

A separate system.

NEIL:

Yeah.

CHARLOTTE:

So, that's a huge barrier for anyone in diversity and inclusion and one of my investors actually was asking me to look at this company adjacent space to us yesterday. And I was saying you know, if you don't integrate with their existing system, it's almost like you're done from the beginning because one, recruiters have such high quotas to meet, speed is really important and they really don't know need another system that they have to be checking and logging into at big companies and where they have an applicant tracking and logging system already. But secondly, if you want to actually create the genuine inclusion, you want the candidates to be funnelled into the same pathway as everyone else. So, we integrate with the company’s existing applicant tracking systems. So, while someone is applying on our site, we are pushing it into the same place where everyone else is going. And so, you know, it's twofold, you know it propels our vision forward to have this be one place for everyone. But secondly, it removes that barrier, particularly with HR teams where they just have a lot to do and like they can't be bouncing around and going here for you know for people of colour and here for people with disabilities like, it is healthy together.

NEIL:

You know, when we start creating fragmentation, we don't actually get the inclusion that we desire, because you're taking people outside of their day to day working systems and you're asking them to extra and it's not going to happen and so, great that you...

CHARLOTTE:

An easy way for them to push it off.

NEIL:

So, great that you have removed that immediate objection. The other thing that I'm interested in is that some organisations, at least, are you know pursuing accessibility programmes that you know and probably your customers being some of the most advanced, so they are going to already have a, you know, an established catalogue of assistive technologies and all of this kind of stuff. So, one of the challenges that we have in my day job is that people make recommendations about what might help someone and they name a specific piece of software or a specific tool and that sets expectations within an individual that they are entitled to a specific tool rather than a generic one that does the same thing and so, I'm really interested to know how you handle that because that can create some real tension in the workplace because it becomes really difficult if you don't start to standardise in really big complex organisations because it becomes unsupportable and for all the work we do for ourselves and for our clients is that turns what was chaotic and well-meaning into something that is managed and structured and supportable. And so, for me, when we were working with partners, one of the things that I'm really interested to see is how they make those recommendations, whether or not it's possible that you could for you know an employer, say sales force or whatever, know that they have got a particular set of tools and be able to say well someone has requested you know these accommodations and do the matching against their tools, so that the manager doesn't go, what is a screen reader, oh it's this and I can request it from my portable over here. Those kinds of things that again reduce the friction of the opposition of accommodations or adjustments.

CHARLOTTE:

We are not plugged in enough to be integrated with the request of the tool that you have mapped to the accommodation but what we are starting to do is build out a market place of the assistive technologies that are mapped to the accommodations that our candidates are asking for and that we believe employers can provide across different jobs. And so, what we are starting to do is tag employers with what inclusive services that they use or assistive technologies. So, as a candidate, if I know that I need, like, I just, maybe I'm deaf and I know that Google is a best captioning for me, you can filter on companies that use the Google Suite instead of Zoom or Microsoft Teams. So, giving a candidate an ability to filter down on jobs based on those important preferences, so, in one sense we are gating them to the right place if they really do have a preference there. On the other hand, what you have said about like sort of a hiring manager, may just recommend it but that's not actually something that they have. That's definitely something we want to get into, where we can actually pull the existing tools, you have and map it to the accommodations. So, if someone is requesting something, it's really easy for the hiring manager to understand we are not there yet. But that's definitely, I see as a value add. But I'd say one last thing on this subject is, I think that you know it is with any employee friction for any subject but it's really important to me and accessibility is understanding the why. Like why is this tool better? Like is it actually better and are you not offering, you know are there things that you know eventually you should be considering migrating over to and also on the other side, you know, the employer explaining the why on this tool, like, we are trying to make something that can scale to more functionality and not just be pigeoned to one thing. I always find that people are able to come around when they just understand the rationale behind the decision instead of just, you know well this is the one we have. Like just, I think it's simple as applying context.

ANTONIO:

Charlotte, something that caught my attention previously you have mentioned that someone could become a sales force administrator, let's say you've that job offer somewhere and then realise I don't have these types of skills, is there a way that you are working with some of your customers to try to find opportunities for people to upskill themselves or change their careers?

CHARLOTTE:

Yeah. So, we have all the sort of, we are aggregating all the training programmes into one place so candidates can look for things and skills that they're interested in and find a programme that they can apply to or a training programme they can enter in so that they can actually get some kind of experience and a stamp of approval as they are applying for jobs. But I think that also one thing that we have seen is that employers will hire candidates into one role and sometimes, if it's not working out, they then understand though what that person would be good at and route them into the right place and have they never let them in in the first place, neither party would have probably known what the best fit is and so, it's not necessarily something you should just do for people with disabilities. Like, you know I think that there are intangible benefits to employees that are loyal that want to be there and that are super excited about your company and with anyone, if they have the right attitude, you should, I mean that's something money can't buy. Like, that's just something someone will either have or not have and so we have also seen our employers realise okay this candidate is going to stay with us, so let's find the right place if this initial job wasn't the perfect fit.

NEIL:

So, we have hit the buffers on our half an hour, and I need to say thank you to My Clear Text for keeping us captioned. Thank you, Charlotte, for coming and joining us today. It's been really interesting, and I think we'll be definitely coming back and following your progress. I look forward to having a lively chat on Twitter. So thank you once again.

CHARLOTTE:

Yeah. Thank you, guys. Page| 2