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Kelly Hoey: Innovator Insights with Ashley Doyal

Dreamers and Doers is a community of over 3,000 high-achieving, entrepreneurial, women which encompasses a diverse mix of female founders of venture-backed companies, women in senior roles at startups, and other female change-makers/influencers. Ashley Doyal is one of those Dreamers and Doers. She’s the co-founder of recruitHER, a women-owned, full-service agency committed to connecting technology companies with diverse, qualified candidates. Before founding recruitHER, Ashley spent seven years recruiting and retaining diverse teams for a variety of technology and gaming companies, including Electronic Arts, ZeniMax, Bethesda Softworks, and Pandora.

Me: Why are you an entrepreneur?

Ashley: My co-founder, Gina Helfrich, and I identified a solution to a huge problem in tech — a lack of diversity in the hiring process (and as a result, on technical teams). We had already been doing this work independently for years — Gina as the former director of the Women’s Center at Harvard and in Austin’s tech community; myself as a recruiting & HR manager focused on diversity sourcing in the games & tech industries in Austin & San Francisco. When we realized that no one was addressing the diversity in tech issue from an agency standpoint, we just really felt this urgency to launch recruitHER rather than waiting for someone else to do it! We’re uniquely positioned to do this work and really driven to make an impact in our communities.

Me: What problem would you like solved?

Ashley: Technology increasingly affects every aspect of our lives, yet the teams creating products intended to reflect millions of diverse users are overwhelmingly white and male. recruitHER aims to change this by providing qualified, diverse candidates to tech companies who we believe will be able to provide an inclusive and supportive environment for our candidates. We strategically partner with companies who are a match to our values (and who are committed to inclusion on their teams) in an effort to boost retention rates once that talent is in place!

We need more diverse perspectives informing technological applications and innovations—it’s good for business and good for consumers!

Me: Advice you’d wished you’d had or had followed?

Ashley: I only wish I’d met my co-founder, Gina, sooner! We have a really great team dynamic and it’s incredible to have such a great support system as first-time female founders.

Me: What does success look like for you?

Ashley: One of the major motivations for me in doing this work is the ability to provide a path to wealth for our candidates through tech. Although I wish our industry didn’t need recruitHER, success for me means connecting tech companies who are doing The Right Things with top talent they wouldn’t have otherwise found! Our mission is all about access and empowerment for underrepresented communities in tech. We are impacting the lives of our candidates and changing the face of technology through this work!

Me: Who are your heroes?

Ashley: Nichelle Nichols is my ultimate hero! For my fellow huge nerds and Trekkies, Nichelle is best known for her role as Lieutenant Uhura on Star Trek. What many people don’t realize is that she was also the face of NASA’s first diversity hiring initiative — she’s responsible for getting so many women and people of color into space!  She’s still incredibly active in advocating for minorities in STEM — she actually just flew on board NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. She’s 82 and killing it.

I have framed Nichelle Nichols, Ann Richards, Wonder Woman and Sally Ride portraits in my office — if I’m struggling, I just look over to that wall of badass women and keep rolling through my day.

Me: What is your biggest regret?

Ashley: I’ve done a lot of free consulting over the years, often around diversity sourcing and recruiting strategies. I realized I was often sharing my expertise and experience with companies who could (and should) afford to pay for that time and expertise. I hear this same story repeated often when talking to women entrepreneurs and professionals — it’s always interesting to learn what finally clicked or changed in order to push for fair compensation vs. consulting for free.

Me: Anything else we should know about?

Ashley: recruitHER’s current client list includes Pandora, Github, Retailmenot, thoughtbot, and Clef. We strategically partner only with companies who we believe can provide an inclusive environment for our candidates — this is what sets us apart from traditional recruiting agencies!

Because we are committed to empowering candidates from underrepresented and marginalized communities through increased access and support, we recently announced our community partnership program. We partner with community organizations to offer free career coaching for women of color, Black, Latina/o, LGBTQ, disabled, and veteran candidates who may not otherwise be able to access our services.

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