Kanarys Inc., a Dallas-based company with an inclusive work culture platform, recently closed a $575,000 pre-seed funding round. The company described its capital as necessary to lay the groundwork to launch the platform and add data analyst and AI/machine learning talent to the team.
CEO and co-founder Mandy Price told Dallas Innovates the company anticipates another round of funding to “optimize and execute on our user acquisition strategy” and platform.
While the pre-seed funding is just the beginning of a larger investment strategy, it does have significance in the startup funding space. Price said Kanarys was thrilled to have raised the more than half a million dollars in capital, and cited statistics that African-American female founders only raise approximately $42,000 on average. Out of the $100 billion in VC funding available, less than 0.2 percent goes to African-American female founders.
“In many ways, our funding round represents exactly what we’ve set out to do at Kanarys—break down barriers for underrepresented professionals,” she said. “We aim to create diverse and inclusive workplaces, where everyone feels a sense of belonging. Although there have been noble and well-intentioned efforts to improve diversity by many employers, there hasn’t been a focus on true inclusion.”
Kanarys platform included dashboard of data
Inclusive work cultures are important for business. Price pointed to research that found only 30 percent of employees of color feel a sense of belonging in their workplace, as well as a data point that companies lose around $144,000 per employee yearly in attrition costs related to lack of diversity and inclusion.
The Kanarys platform was built based on the experiences of Price and her co-founders, Star Carter and Bennie King. All three had been on the “well-meaning” corporate side as well as the employee side, Price said. All three said they felt reluctant or hesitant to bring up certain diversity and inclusion issues to employers over concerns about retribution or retaliation.
The website platform includes a dashboard with data about different company policies on topics such as diversity initiatives, maternity/paternity leave, company perks, and more. Employees also can anonymously rate their company on five diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) metrics and answer a series of DEI-focused questions that incorporate AI tech.“We understand that it will take ‘all of us’ at the table working together to make real change,” Price said. “That is why we built the Kanarys platform—to provide the infrastructure necessary to create meaningful dialogue between employers and employees that ultimately results in more inclusive workplace cultures.”
Data collected from these reviews and surveys will be made available via a company dashboard for corporate early adopters, so leaders can use this feedback and input from real employees to make better decisions about how to improve the culture, Price said.
Kanarys tries to make a positive social impact
The platform will allow employers to use company-specific data and analytics instead of online reviews, or even just a gut feeling, to make informed decisions about equity and inclusion. As Price put it, studies show that companies with greater gender and ethnic diversity report higher financial returns, so the Kanarys platform just makes good business sense.
“Put simply, we are trying to make a positive social impact in the workplace and in the world. We are committed to working alongside employees and employers to build more fair and equitable workplaces where everyone belongs,” Price said.
The Kanarys platform is in beta testing with a select group of corporate early adopters and thought leaders and is expected to be available to the general public this summer.
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