The other day Michael Krupa signed the paperwork for a two-year renewal of Cisco's subscription to software from Textio, whose technology helps people write job ads that resonate with a diverse pool of people.
Krupa didn't hesitate — it was fairly priced, and it's made a measurable contribution since Cisco launched it for all of the company's recruiters to use around the world.
Cisco now gets 10 percent more female job candidates and it takes less time to fill positions, said Krupa, senior director for digitization and business intelligence inside the company's office of inclusion and collaboration.
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"We are the most diverse Cisco we've been since the year 2000," Krupa said in an interview with CNBC, pointing to the company's latest diversity report, which shows 24 percent of Cisco's worldwide employees are women, while 47 percent of U.S. employees identify as nonwhite or non-Caucasian. Textio has contributed to the improvements, Krupa said.
Many technology companies have been rushing to improve their diversity numbers after the biggest ones began to report statistics in 2014.
Textio was founded the same year, but improving diversity through the analysis of the words people use wasn't really the original point of the company, said co-founder and chief technology officer Jensen Harris.
At first he and his wife, Kieran Snyder, who is the other co-founder and the start-up's CEO, imagined putting together a company that could help parents find nearby playgrounds from their mobile devices. The couple, who met while they both worked at Microsoft, incorporated a company called Kidgrid.
But then the couple got a better idea: predicting things like whether Kickstarter campaigns would be funded based purely on the text included in the page about the campaign. They raised their first funding round based on this technology. That's when they started working on their first product, called Textio Hire, which uses artificial intelligence to analyze job posts as people type them out or edit them, and highlights words that could lead to positive as well as negative outcomes.
As you tweak a job post and improve its content, Textio updates the score for the post, based on how gender-neutral and jargon-free the language is, so that fewer people are discouraged from applying. The service stays hip to changes in language in job descriptions over time.