In this episode of the Recruitment Hackers Podcast Roy Baladi, Founder of Jobs for Humanity goes into eye-opening statistics surrounding unemployment: 36% of blind people are unemployed, 13% of single moms and about 80% of neurodivergent. This has to change, and Jobs for Humanity, a new solution helping companies hire people with disabilities is poised to do just that — through impressive tech, volunteers, and an amazing idea.
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Max: Welcome back to the Recruitment Hackers podcast. I'm your host, Max Armbruster, and today I'm delighted to welcome Roy Baladi, who is the new founder of take this, Jobs for humanity. It's a new company with grand plans, and I really love the initial intent of helping humanity, connect them with jobs. I think all of our listeners will connect. So welcome to the show, Roy.
Roy: Thank you so much. Thank you for having Max.
Max: Pleasure. So, Roy, we had been connected sometime back when you were the head of the marketplace at smart recruiters, which is an ATS company based in San Francisco, and you're now back in your home country I believe after a long time in the US.
Roy: I'm in Lebanon now, and I left in 2001 to study computer science and finance, and math at Virginia Tech. And now 20 years later it was my birthday this past weekend and I celebrated my very first birthday in two decades in Lebanon, surrounded by family, which feels really good. I'm not here permanently, but I'm enjoying the fact that the world has turned remote and I can actually explore a lot more than I could before.
Max: Of Course I hear Beirut is a great city to celebrate birthdays I believe. Very good things. So, maybe without going into the whole career path. But how did you end up in recruitment I should just ask, I suppose it was you, came in on the product side. And you said you were studying math and ended up in recruitments, a little bit by through the accidents of a career.
Roy: Yeah, well my first job was on Wall Street. I was a derivatives trader on Wall Street, and within a year I realized what the heck am I doing here. That really doesn't resonate with me, I love the quaint side, but it didn't bring purpose. And then financial crashes that were 2006-2010 and the world came upside down and as we came out of this crash, I told myself where do I fit? I'm going to find myself at age 35 with no skills that I'm interested in, that thinking led me to start to ask myself a question, where do I fit? And that got me down the rabbit hole of psychographics, which are able to identify career paths based on natural skills and natural interests, and that was the genesis of my first startup that got me into the recruiting deck on the candidate side called fresh ground, which did exactly that in 2010.
Max: Behavioral assessments for young jobseekers right?
Roy: Pretty much.
Max: Great. And then after that, smart recruiters and now Jobs for humanity. So, tell me more about this new project,
Roy: Jobs for humanity is honestly a cry from the heart. It is not something that I came in and said I'm gonna put together a business plan, this is what I'm going to do. It's a global movement of job creation for overlooked communities, and the communities that we really want to start to work with either blind. There are 285 million blind and visually impaired individuals in the world, 36% are unemployed. And if you go on Google and you look for jobs for the blind, you're not going to find the job word for them, you're not going to find out. Then, other clauses are jobs for the neurodivergent. Most people don't know what that term means and this is where you have all the autistics, Asperger's, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia and that's if you add them all together whether diagnosed and there's a lot of people not diagnosed, yet it's about 1 billion people on earth, 70% of the population and is growing very fast. You've got your geniuses there, Einstein, Newton were on the spectrum. A lot of people say that Bill Gates is on the spectrum but that's not confirmed. Sir Richard Branson is on the spectrum, a lot of scientists, yet they're having a hard time. 80% underemployment in that community. Then you've got single moms. A lot of people don't realize that one in seven women above the age of 18 on earth today is a single mother, raising children. In the United States that translates to 14 million single moms raising 16 million children. Their average income is $35,000 a year when the national income is 80,000 a year. So imagine over $3,000 at the US expenses, a month is what you have to raise a child and work, and pay for yourself and one or multiple children.
Max: At least you aren't to pay the beers for that lazy husband.
Max: I shouldn't joke. Of course, it's very difficult to be a single mother, but I never thought about it as a disfavored population on the employment side. In fact, as an employer, I've always looked at single moms like that's absolutely a place to go because they have so much great work ethics and purpose, compared to, maybe, I don't want to call out the other groups.
Roy: The unemployment rate among single moms is double the national average apart from the normal average. And the national average in the US is about six point something percent. Global is about 5.6%, single moms are 13%, blind is 36%, neurodivergent is about 80% underemployed, underneath or less.
Max: Did you say 80% for neurodivergent?
Roy: 80% underemployed yeah. So they could be working but they're working in something that really does not utilize their brain and the barriers are honestly not that hard, that's the big opportunity here, is that companies just don't know how to open up. Like for example, I've interviewed hundreds of recruiters and asked have you ever interviewed a blind person? The answer is almost always no. If you interviewed a blind person, do you even know, you can send them a follow-up email. Will they be able to read it? Do you know what the analogies are?It's not hard and this stuff is not in recruiting school, because the training doesn't need to cover that. But there's such a big margin of the population that really needs it. A lot of people were not blind when they started their lives, they have regular jobs, and they lost their eyesight so they couldn't really do any job, and with the system technologies like screen readers, magnifiers, apps like be my eyes, then you can do pretty much any job, complex big sheets, done, presentations, yes, all of that, be a developer, yes, you can do that as a blind individual. The three other causes are returning citizens from incarceration, we are refugees and black leaders, the black community.
Max: Well, I'm super interested in digging a little bit deeper into the blind problem because it seems to me that, I must admit personally I've interviewed 1000s of people but I don't think I've interviewed a blind person. So I'm part of that statistic. And I've never really thought about it, to be honest. But now I am and I'm wondering, isn't the biggest impediment I mean the fact that I don't know how a blind person would see my job ads. And I don't know exactly what you said if they can open and read my emails. I've met blind people who have corresponded with me through email and I guess they have an app that reads it out loud for them. How do you approach this from your angle as a technologist, looking at the blind community, do they need to have an Alexa for job search?
Roy: That's one way, that's a really cool way. And actually when I worked with smart recruiters just hacking with few developers and we have built an Alexa for job search. And so she reads, these are the applications that you've submitted, this is the stage that you are in. It's not the job search actually it's the follow-up post-application. But the first thing that you as a technologist is to make sure that your career page and your job ad are accessible, that's the most important thing that you must do, or else you're just not opening the door. There are two types, so after 380 million people on earth, who are visually impaired, only 39 are completely blind and 340 have low vision. If you have low vision and think about an adult, right, when you look at their phone the font is much bigger and actually, this feature is an accessible feature for the blind that we're all using and enjoying today. And the older you get, the worse your vision is going to get, the worse your hearing is going to get, so people started to kind of use them without realizing that it actually was meant for accessible individuals but now they're catching up in popularity because everybody uses them because they are convenient. So three things that you really want to take into account are 1. Am I able to, if a screen reader is reading my page does it make sense? Or am I using flash and there's an image covering the text and the screen reader can't read it? And am I able to know where to tick and what to click through basically? The second thing that you might want to pay attention to is the color contrast. If you have low vision or if you have colorblindness, you want to make sure that you're using the right colors and you have the right color contrast. And the third thing is you need to be able to have the text laid out in a way where it can be magnified 5-10X for low vision. And I'm simplifying it quite a bit because there was a lot of things that our developers and testers on our sites had to go through in order to make sure that the site jobs for all the sites that we use on jobs for humanity each individual job site for each individual community is accessible for the client.
Max: So it's going to be, you're not going to have a job site just for the blind and a job site just for neurodivergent? You will?
Roy: We will.
Max: Well that makes sense. I mean for me it'd be like something that may be Google could work on, just like they translate the websites when I go shopping for things on Alibaba, they could translate things for me if I was visually impaired or blind. Just show me the blind version of the website.
Roy: I've met people at Google who have worked on that problem specifically, and even have braille, raise, braille keyboards, and things like that, but it hasn't made its way to perfect commercialization. Like for example, I've got a reacher that live translates everything from one language to another and I can just press the button and it translates the page immediately which is just super effective when I am traveling. But when it comes to blind accessibility we are way behind.
Max: Are there some jobs that are more popular with the visually impaired than others. Are there some industries and some job types that are a better fit, and obviously, we're not going to give someone they're not going to be driving a truck, for example, or plane, those are the obvious ones but are there some jobs that have a higher chance of success?
Roy: Honestly, I don't know, we're launching in two or three weeks. And every company, and this is a frequently asked question. So, the companies and so I'm starting with 10 pilot customers. And I just want to give them a quick shout-out to those companies because they're awesome. They immediately said yes. So that's booking. There are 15,000 employees that have got hundreds of jobs all over the world. They are headquartered in the Netherlands. And they said yes to all six clauses, yes to all jobs, which I loved. And my suggestion is to put all those jobs and then the others are spectrum 70,000 employees, a telecom company, Jazz pharmaceutical, Auburn-Washburn High School, which matters so much to me to have a school, not high school it's a unified school district a full school in Kansas, which matters so much to me because imagine having a blind teacher that really impacts rows of students who will then grow to be very inclusive, and very aware of that and then turn it in, at their company Contentful, lot of technology company, checker who does background checks and has been supporting the returning citizens, and actually checkers offering few background checks to any forming customary individual, going through the platform and actually they're opening it up so that they can see the results of the background checks and better define themselves and better prepare. Kygo, which is a telecom company, the largest telecom company in Latin America. And Nielsen 35,000 employees, all of them say, Yes, now with all of them I am telling them to put all the jobs in, so what we'll do is we'll automatically pull the jobs from their job sites so they don't need to make that effort. We'll put them on these six individual job sites which are beautiful and very modern.
And then from there, candidates will start to apply, as they apply they end up with the backend recruiting system which I am using smart recruiters and partner link with a bunch of recruiting technologies to make a seamless program. So once the candidates are in the backend the algorithm identifies the top three candidates for each job and then we'll have recruited volunteers.
They could be volunteers from the companies that were working with, external volunteers where recruiters are needing care and feel like learning and supporting or community members who, for example, come from a rough neighborhood or lighthouse for the blind who say yeah I want to help my community get connected with these job opportunities. We're trying to before and help them get a job. And so, the company all they have to do is say, take my jobs. We'll get back to them if we have three highly qualified candidates, and they guarantee an interview and then we'll have a training program run by experts of our team. So for example for the blind it's the Lighthouse for the blind, be my eyes, and the Center for accessibility at spectrum. And we have this program that will then help the job seekers with the top challenges they have, and how to address them, the employers, the top challenges they have, and how to address them. Open up awareness on basically, what are the assistive technologies and how through the interview process, all the way through the hire, the onboarding, and beyond, through a very nifty training program.
Max: So it's like, it's an end-to-end solution where you also deliver screening and interviewing, almost like an RPO.
Roy: Yeah, you can say so exactly.
Max: Okay, great. Well I mean I’m not surprised that you've got these employers who are signing up for. I think it's a wonderful story and you'll have no problem getting signups, and what other kind of help, you're registering help right now for volunteers who want to build those communities, and those volunteers are doing, what exactly are they interviewing the candidates/job seekers?
Roy: Yeah, so, volunteer, if someone wants to volunteer can go to jobsforhumanity.com scroll through the page, if this page speaks to them, there's a volunteer section they can volunteer, they can use their skills. The two main sections of volunteers that we're looking for are, and then there are a few others. One is to be a recruiter. And you don't have to have prior recruiting experience. We'll train you on this, for example, to say, I want to help the blind, or the blind and the neurodivergent. We'll give you the training on both through elegance. Ah! There it is. That's a job site.
Max: This is a podcast so we're not supposed to describe the screen too much but I'm showing the people who are logging on YouTube, to see what the website looks on. So go on I didn't want to interrupt you.
Roy: Yeah. So exactly. So you see the six causes that you can volunteer for each one of them open up to the job sites, underneath is this volunteer section, you could basically say I want to be a recruiter for one, two or all causes, and then we'll give you a really cool training, practical training on how to get into the product, identify the top candidates, connect to the hiring managers and support growth through the hiring process. You can also be the second big group as an ambassador if you want to spread the word to the different communities that all these jobs are available and exist for them. And then, in addition, if you are a designer you can design, if you are a developer, you can code, if you're a grant writer you can help write grants. So all of these basically your natural skills in what you normally do you can put a couple of hours a week. If you're interested in drawing this movement.
Max: This is very practical, which is what the world needs, not angry people on social media but practical people who help others get jobs. So, well done for taking this problem by the horn and I hope our listeners will go and visit jobsforhumanity.com to sign up as volunteers. Is there another way to get a hold of you, Roy?
Roy: Yeah, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or also the alias email@example.com.
Max: There you go. Thanks and hope. Well, all the best with this project. And we hope we'll find a way to support your cause, through Talkpush as well.
Roy: Thank you so much, Max. I really appreciate the opportunity and the visibility. And thanks for listening if you made it all the way through.
Max: That was Roy Baladi for jobs for humanity technology does its best work when it reduces transaction costs and creates opportunities for people. So I have no doubt that jobs for humanity has a bright future. Hope you enjoyed the interview with Roy and if you'd like to hear more from entrepreneurs in the talent acquisition space or talent acquisition professionals, please subscribe and share with your friends.
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