Porter Braswell, Co-Founder & CEO of Jopwell
As Co-founder and CEO of diversity recruitment platform Jopwell, Porter Braswell is making it easier for employers and employees to find the perfect match. By helping minorities better access job opportunities across Corporate America, Jopwell's platform empowers large companies to recruit at scale to build better, more diverse teams.
As our Millennial Maker, Porter talks to us about what inspired his career pivot, the importance of workplace diversity, and what matters most to young professionals today.
What was your a-ha moment when you decided to make the jump from Wall Street to start Jopwell?
I was stuck in the airport on a layover, chatting with my now-cofounder, Ryan Williams, when we discovered that we both gained early exposure to careers in finance through diversity programs catered to underrepresented students. As two Black professionals, these programs laid the foundation for our careers, but they also made us more conscious of how many ambitious underrepresented students and professionals don’t have access to similar opportunities to break into different industries. We knew the playing field wasn’t leveled, and we also knew that there were a lot of amazingly qualified people from other historically underrepresented backgrounds who companies weren’t connecting with and recruiting. We recognized a need for a larger conversation and a better system to address the lack of racial diversity in leading workplaces. So in 2014, we left our Wall Street jobs to launch Jopwell, a career platform that helps Black, Latino/Hispanic, and Native American talent unlock opportunities for career advancement.
What are the biggest gaps in the minority recruitment process and how does Jopwell solve for those?
The biggest gap is the disconnect between employers and potential employees. This is true across a range of industries, old and new; a recent LinkedIn survey reported that 45% of startup investors say the “pipeline problem” is the top obstacle they face to creating more diverse teams. But by creating a profile on Jopwell, candidates can view dozens of job postings, company profiles, career advice, and other resources, allowing them to explore different opportunities and get introduced to resources and jobs they may not have found otherwise. And for the companies that we partner with, Jopwell provides exclusive access and a direct line of communication to a searchable pool of Black, Latino/Hispanic, and Native American talent who represent a wide range of backgrounds, interests, and skills. In addition to facilitating connections between talented candidates and leading companies, Jopwell also provides a platform to talk, think about, and implement diversity in the workplace, both on and offline. Whether it’s through our digital magazine, The Well, or free in-person networking mixers and headshot activations, we created Jopwell as a place for our community to learn, connect, and unlock opportunities for career advancement.
In what situations or circumstances do you believe it is most beneficial for companies to leverage an external recruitment platform like Jopwell?
Building a diverse and inclusive workforce is an imperative for businesses. Numerous studies indicate that hiring individuals from a wide range of backgrounds, skills, ideas, and cultures leads to innovation, improved employee satisfaction, and stronger consumer relations. A 2015 McKinsey study highlighted that companies in the top-quartile for workforce diversity are 35% more likely to financially out-perform their less diverse counterparts, and that’s a pretty compelling case for leading organizations to invest in building and fostering a diverse workforce. For companies looking to build the best possible organizations by recruiting the best talent from a range of backgrounds, Jopwell is a key resource. Not only does Jopwell introduce thousands of Black, Latino/Hispanic, and Native American students and professionals to organizations and opportunities that align with their skills and interests, it also allows hiring managers to tap into a network they may not previously been able to access. This is particularly important because companies could miss out on the perfect hire if they’re not considering a broad, diverse array of talent.
What advice would you give recruitment and HR professionals when it comes to recruiting and retaining millennial talent?
We find that professionals entering the workforce today want to understand the culture of the company, its commitment to diversity, and what opportunities and clear paths for growth are available. It’s really important when you are recruiting talent that you showcase your approach to culture, diversity, and employee development upfront, and it’s equally important to be genuine and honest about where your organization currently is and what you’re working towards. We hear that feedback from our candidates a lot, and we designed Jopwell’s company pages to ensure our employer partners are able to communicate who they are and what they value as a company from the get-go.
Professionals entering the workforce today want to understand the culture of the company, its commitment to diversity, and what opportunities and clear paths for growth are available.
What advice would you give future Millennial Makers?
Get to know your coworkers! They’re an amazing resource and the most successful companies are built on great teams. Listen, ask questions, and always think about where you can add value and how you can turn challenges into actionable solutions. We also have tons of great advice from the Jopwell community available on our digital magazine, The Well. Check it out on jopwell.com/thewell.
The most successful companies are built on great teams.
Favorite interview question to ask potential employees?
What are you most passionate about and why?
Favorite startup moment?
On day one, Ryan and I sat in our two-person office just looked at each other with an expression that said, "Now what?" Meaning, we quit our jobs, we're both non technical, and here we are -- we really didn't get to the part of the dream when we were in our office on day one. After that look we gave each other, we both knew we had to do something so we started calling our networks and letting them know what we were planning on building. That look though was really the first moment of the Jopwell journey. Fast forward two and a half years later, we now have a 5,000 square foot office, 25 employees, and are growing.
Words to live by?
Embrace mentorship. It’s so important that you find someone you trust and feel comfortable with -- someone who understands where you are coming from and where you want to go. Then foster that relationship.