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Helping to remove recruitment bias: We invest in Applied

We’re delighted to announce that Nesta Impact Investments has led a £330k investment into fairer recruitment platform Applied (we’ve invested £150k), which helps remove bias from the application process.

We’re excited to have been joined in the round by the Trawalla Foundation, Public and six angel investors, including Adam Grant, Wharton School professor and bestselling author of Give and Take; Originals; Option B; and James Callander and Adam Clements of Freshminds recruitment consultancy.

It’s our latest addition to our sustainable communities portfolio and forms part of our strategy to invest in products and services that help improve access to employment, especially for disadvantaged groups. We’ve looked at several businesses helping reduce bias in employment and we found a gem closer to home that we’d ever expected; the online recruitment tool was spun out from Behavioural Insights Ventures Limited (a joint venture between Nesta, The Cabinet Office and employees) in December 2016.  

For us it stood out strongly from the competition because of its robust foundation in behavioural science. Its ability to demonstrably measure a reduction in bias really gave it an edge, and the Applied customers that we talked to agreed (in spades). It was developed in partnership with Harvard Professor and behavioural expert, Iris Bohnet. Over the past year, over 1,000 hiring managers have used the platform to process more than 19,000 applications for over 700 jobs. Customers range from small charities to governments and global corporates, including Hilton, Penguin Random House, the UK Civil Service, BCG’s Centre for Public Impact, Berwin Leighton Paisner and LEK Consulting.

The web platform helps organisations write inclusive job descriptions and monitors the drop off rate of applicants by age, ethnicity and gender among others. A work-based assessment is completed online, instead of submitting a CV, so candidates are judged on skills rather than background. Applications are then reviewed by multiple people and personalised, automated feedback is provided to unsuccessful candidates along with information about other suitable roles – something which applicants (and clients) really appreciate. The funding will be used to rollout the product within Applied's existing blue-chip client base and extend it to new clients, enabling them to strip out bias in their recruitment, improve hiring speed and quality, and provide the best candidate experience possible.

We think Applied will help bring down barriers to employment and progression in work and can’t wait to see the results.  

Find out more about Nesta Impact Investments.

Author

Helen Gironi

Helen Gironi

Helen Gironi

Investment Director, Nesta Impact Investments

Helen joined Nesta Impact Investments in January 2016 as Investment Director, and works across the fund’s investment themes making investments and managing the portfolio.

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Lucy Heady

Lucy Heady

Lucy Heady

Impact Director

In her role as Impact Director for the investments team Lucy works with portfolio companies to measure their impact and assesses the likely impact of potential investments. She also ...

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