For Marlina Kinnersley the #metoo movement couldn’t have come at a better time. Though much has made about issues such as diversity and inclusion within startup communities, these are issues the greater corporate world is grappling with too, from headline-earning high-profile sexual harassment cases to everyday cultural problems that erode employee engagement and satisfaction.

“Having an unhealthy culture really trickles down, it’s a ripple effect,” Kinnersley says. “Inability to attract the right talent, inability to retain the right talent, productivity and performance levels, all the way to the bottom line. It affects your stock prices. We’ve been seeing a lot of that in the news lately. A lot more organizations are learning that they need to make more investment in making positive change towards becoming more diverse. It’s really opening up some conversations for us.”

For Kinnersley, the idea that all of these issues stem back to diversity and culture was sparked as the result of a job that didn’t meet her needs. “I started connecting the dots,” she says, and went on to discuss her observations with Bohdan Zabawskyj, who would become her Fortay co-founder. A “serial CTO”, as Kinnersley describes him, Zabawskyj had worked with numerous startups and quickly got excited about her ideas because he’d seen similar issues within the tech community. In 2015, the pair launched Fortay.

Focused on helping companies make better matches when they bring on new employees, as well as to regularly monitor and improve internal culture, Fortay first conducts an assessment of company culture using a simple poll about values and beliefs. Those benchmarks are then used to help zero in on employment candidates who are a stronger culture add – Fortay says this can shrink hiring windows from 52 days to 13 – as well as to gather ongoing, real-time and actionable metrics about employee engagement.

By focusing on culture, Kinnersley says, companies often find candidates “that they would have dismissed otherwise, maybe because they didn’t have exactly the right education or other qualifications on a resume. But with Fortay, they still surface to the top indicated that they are aligned because of company culture. We can identify talent that will thrive in their unique culture. We also have tools to help leaders understand where their culture is unhealthy and where they can make improvements, so they can move the dial towards a higher-performing culture.”

While focusing on culture add makes intuitive sense, Kinnersley says the tools previously available to hiring managers tended to focus on the wrong things.  “We were quite early in the market when it came to assessing cultural alignment. There were quite a lot of psychometric and behavioural assessment tools, but frankly they weren’t doing the job. They were the wrong tool for the job,” she says. “The door was open for our approach, especially as companies move toward building more diverse teams.”

Featured in the newly-released Mercer report Diversity and Inclusion Technology: The Rise of a Transformative Market, Fortay is lauded for its ability to help companies reduce biases during the hiring process, helping businesses better understand issues around employee inclusion and develop KPIs related to these attributes.

And with the report also noting that the global market for technology to help businesses meet diversity and inclusion goals is currently $100-million – and quickly expanding – Kinnersley expects more and more companies to want to take a mirror to their internal culture, helping Fortay to continue to grow at the same time. “There are just so many studies that support the business case for this,” Kinnersley says.

Photo credit: Zlatko Cetinic, Images Made Real