The making of the Kanarys platform

July 25, 2019

The canary in a coal mine was once a mining tradition to keep people safe.

Coal miners would often carry little songbirds into the mines to monitor the quality of the air while they worked. When workers emerged from the mines at the end of the day, healthy birds were a symbol of a workplace environment that was nontoxic, desirable and safe.

While it’s been more than 30 years since the last canary was used in a coal mine, Kanarys exists today to create modern work environments that are nontoxic, desirable and safe.

As women of color in a country where that has proven to be the ultimate barrier of success – the founders of Kanarys understood too well the challenges that both companies and individuals face when diversity is neither equitable nor inclusive. The two Harvard Law School alumnae left their careers as corporate attorneys to tackle the problem of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in the workplace.

Despite having a strong vision of a world where DEI is critical to innovation and success, they needed a partner to help build strategies and tools to achieve it.

When we first met the founding team of Kanarys, the conversation was a breath of fresh air. As a multicultural team that values diversity in perspectives, the opportunity to meet the challenge through our work was also invigorating and personal. In addition to strong alignment of values, Kanarys' also chose Oui Will for practical advantages.

With offices in Paris and San Diego, our team was equipped to compress the timeline without compromising on quality. We estimated 10 months to build a compelling brand and launch a strong digital product from scratch. As with all startups, the balancing act between fundraising and building can be a challenge.

Through Oui Will's incubation model, an opportunity for early stage startups with good-for-the-world potential, Kanarys would be able to focus on building the brand and the product without the distractions associated with traditional venture capital financing.

After mutual agreement that the partnership was the perfect combination for successful launch, we rolled up our sleeves and began the work.

Unfortunately in today’s cultural climate – the topic of DEI is either embraced but ineffective or invisible – even controversial. To ensure what we are building would be effective, our teams embarked on a thorough Discovery phase. We considered our audiences, identified pain points and translated them into types of data the platform should facilitate.

We concluded that perkslike ping-pong tables and catered lunches – are becoming less important than cultureopportunities, representation, policies – to women, people of color and the LGBTQIA+ community.

We also concluded that proactive understanding of employee sentiment and immediate feedback is more beneficial to organizations in course correction.

In response to those conclusions, we needed to build tools to capture the following information:

1. Demographics - so both individuals and organizations can gauge demographic representation across all levels of the organization

2. Employee sentiment - so both individuals and organizations have access to authentic reviews from real people

3. Benefits and policies - so individuals can identify work environments that are conducive to their personal and professional needs and so that organizations can monitor the efficacy of existing efforts against market and demand

To fill the gap between employers and underrepresented professionals in a positive and productive way, the platform needed to:

1. Alleviate retaliation concerns from employees in order to promote deeper critiques

2. Enlighten problem areas to address deep rooted issues through objective data and analytics

3. Create a system of accountability and transparency with results

In addition to determining what data needed to be collected, it was important to outline all the nuances such as privacy measures, intuitive and delightful user experiences that would lead to successful adoption of platform tools.

Kanarys is the first and only data-driven, crowdsourced platform that fosters collaboration between employers and underrepresented professionals, providing actionable insights around DEI.

Kanarys is on a mission to build more inclusive cultures – starting with the workplace. We couldn’t be prouder to partner with their team in creating a world where diversity is sought after, inclusiveness is honored and equity is evident.

As a team that lives and works to create remarkable beautiful things that make an impact, shape culture and connect people – we couldn’t have had a better project than Kanarys to do just that.

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If you would like to support the efforts of more accountability and transparency around Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the workplace – create an account on kanarys.com, share Kanarys with your organization and encourage dialogue around DEI.

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