To make good on DEI promises, startups can turn to a new kind of staffing firm.

Oct 13, 2022

by Maija Ehlinger

A rigid, impersonal interview process isn’t just a problem for employees trying to land a job. It also exposes companies that have failed to live up to DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) initiatives launched over the last two years.

“Systemic racism and inequality in corporate America became the loudest issue as many companies voiced support of the Black Lives Matter movement,” Gwenn McGuire told Hypepotamus. “What they didn’t expect was for Americans to hold them accountable.” 

While adding Chief Diversity Officers or putting out equity statements became the norm, McGuire and her co-founder Janaye Hall recognized that companies struggled to make systemic changes in the way they recruit, support, and promote workforce diversity. 

McGuire and Hall set out to help companies change that narrative through the launch of their own executive staffing firm, Atlanta-based HBGM&Co.

HBGM&Co prides itself on working specifically with startups looking to attract the best executive talent. “People come to a staffing or an executive search and placement firm when they don’t have the time to actually do the searching,” said McGuire. 

The goal is to provide companies with executive search and support services while connecting them to nontraditional women – be it those in BIPOC, LGBTQ+, veteran, or differently-abled communities. Beyond just providing vetted candidates, HBGM&Co helps companies improve their internal culture, onboarding process, retention rates, and mediation strategies to ensure their roster of women are able to thrive and rise through the ranks.

This is particularly important when it comes to holding companies accountable around DEI initiatives.

A Washington Post analysis from 2021 found that American companies pledged $50 million towards combating systemic racism in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd. Although accountability on those pledges has been more difficult to assess, the Founders qualify their clients by following the money around philanthropic initiatives, understanding client retention rates and deep diving into ERG’s, for short. Their goal is to ensure women are landing within companies that are nurturing safe spaces and dismantling current toxic work environments.

In order for companies to live up to their diversity and equity statements, it is crucial for them to rethink the entire employee lifecycle, says Hall. 


Startups & Staffing

Staffing agencies might seem like a resource reserved for Fortune 500 and larger corporations looking to add headcount quickly. But McGuire and Hall are dedicated to working with startups because “[they] have a really unique opportunity to dismantle the current toxic norms” that are found in corporate workforce structures. 

“Startups usually can only afford to hire contractors. They need administrative assistants or maybe project managers… so we have a service for that,” added McGuire. “As startups begin to grow, they might bring on someone through contract-to-hire. We meet companies at each and every level of growth as they are ready to expand their workforce.”

While HBGM&Co continues to build up its client base beyond startups, they are also looking for ways to change the upstream problems that are keeping young professional women from excelling later in their careers. In the later part of 2023, the team told Hypepotamus they will look to roll out its own corporate curriculum focusing on developing soft and hard professional skills, coaching and developing leaders of the next generation.  

Hypepotamus