How to Create Equal Hiring Opportunities Through Digital Credentials

    Jonathan Finkelstein, CEO of Credly, discusses the company's mission to provide individuals with verified, portable, digital representations of their skills.
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    Hi, I'm Jonathan Finkelstein, I'm the CEO of Credly. We started Credly back in 2012 and I remember we were socializing our mission, our vision for the company, which is to help every person have a verified, portable, digital representation of all of their skills and abilities so that they can better connect to opportunities. I remember as we were talking about the idea
    with some early people, I met a woman named Carissa in New York and she seemed really excited about the concept. She said to me, "Wait a minute, so this is a record of all of my knowledge, my skills, and my abilities, and I can actually show this to my boss?" And I was like, "Yep, that's exactly the idea." She said, "Well that's amazing, because I can't tell you how many times my boss has gone to the people on the outside, consultants, others to come in and do projects, and jobs, and things that I know I can actually do. My boss still sees me as the same person I was when I started six years ago."
     
    I imagine that's a feeling that many of you can relate to, the idea of being overlooked for an opportunity, sometimes based on faulty or outdated perceptions of who you are or what you can do. Sometimes it's based on a lack of knowledge on the part of a hiring manager, but I think all too often it's actually the result of people making assumptions that are based on
    unreliable proxies, like where you went to school, what you look like, how old you are, and what your gender is. We know that in the absence of real-time, reliable, verifiable data, we see an increase in bias and inequities in the workplace. We need to look no further than that stubborn notion that women are earning 80% of the pay that men do for doing the exact same job, and if you are a woman of color, that disparity is even greater.
     
    What amplifies this problem is that human capital decisions are often being made through the top of the funnel, which is absorbing information that's unstructured, unverified, and self-reported. The reason that's a problem is that 85% of employers say that they found a lie or a misrepresentation on somebody's resume or job application and we know from research and perhaps from lived experience that men are much more likely to exaggerate their skills than women are. Now, fixing this problem is not only good corporate social responsibility, it's actually a commercial strategic imperative, and companies that move to a more skill-based approach to solving this problem actually see a 70% reduction in the time it takes to hire somebody. They see a 50% reduction in the amount of time it actually takes to train someone and get them to productivity. That affects the bottom line.
     
    And all of this happens against the backdrop in which individuals, in fact probably close to 50% of us in the next couple of years will participate in some way in the gig economy, so we can no longer rely on somebody longterm affiliation with a single company to make guesses or assumptions about what it is we think they must know after that time. Individuals are not
    just looking for a place to work anymore, they're looking for a place to learn. That's the number one reason that millennials for example choose the companies they choose to work at. All of these trends point towards the need to have portable, digital, and verified records of achievements, and that's exactly what we've built at Credly.
     
    At the heart of what we do is a verified competency profile that helps people like Carissa back in New York tell the full story of everything that she can do as told through the verified lens of the institutions and groups that have actually seen her skills in action. What backs up all of these achievements is structured, rich data that actually describes the skills and abilities in a
    transparent, machine readable, and discoverable way. Regardless of who you are, if you've completed or earned that same skill, they're described in exactly the same way, which means that two people who've done the same thing should have equal access to the same kinds of opportunities.
     
    Now, no two people actually traverse the workforce in exactly the same way, which is why you need to have infrastructure that's baked into all of the different kinds of places where people learn and demonstrate their skills. The nice thing about this and the reason companies love it is it creates a single source of truth for the enterprise about all of the skills that are resonant in their incumbent workforce, but also gives them insights into the skills that people are learning outside and beyond their jobs.
     
    It's why companies like IBM have adopted credentials with Credly to mark all of their points of learning around the company see a seven times increase in completion rates on their learning activities, and why companies like the Hartford, who presented here on this stage at ASU last year, have baked digital credentials into their hiring and promotion processes in order to create a more equal and diverse workforce.
     
    Credly is providing the infrastructure across the landscape, working with associations and certification providers, large businesses, and education and training providers. Our network is
    growing rapidly. We've got thousands of organizations who are issuing tens of millions of credentials to millions of individuals. And well, it really delights us to see the impact we're having on people like Carissa being better able to connect her skills to opportunities, and we love seeing how companies have a much better grasp on their human capital.
     
    To us, this is really a movement and it's a movement that requires partners who are looking at this from the lens of societal impact, and we're really pleased to have partners who are taking a long view on how to bake recognition of skills in a transparent way and to all the kinds of programs and all the kinds of platforms that people use every day.
     If you're interested in learning more about how digital credentials can help reduce hiring bias, download our whitepaper, ''How Digital Credentials Can Help Dismantle Gender Bias in the Workplace''.

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