East Bay competition churns out high tech solution to workplace bias

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- A fierce tech competition in the East Bay drew a lot of attention from entrepreneurs who are trying to find software solutions to a very human problem- bias in the workplace. A company called 5 to 9 took the top $40,000 prize this year at the people ops tech competition.

It's somewhat like the ABC show Shark Tank where would be investors and inclusion experts heard pitches from entrepreneurs hoping to get cash to fund their high tech plans to fix diversity problems in the tech industry. 10 finalists gave it a go Monday afternoon at Berkeley's David Brower Center.

Freada Kapor Klein is the founder of the competition. "Whether it's sourcing, hiring, interviewing or promoting, every step of the way by us gets in there and distorts the outcome," she said.

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A company called Nextplay scored $25,000 and second place. Cheru Sharma with Nextplay said, "When I came to the U.S. in pursuit of the American dream and economic opportunity, I noticed how a select few people can move faster up in their careers and more easily while women, minorities and introverts suffer."

Nextplay Is targeting mentorship. A company called Florecruit.ai wants to change hiring practices. This year there were 150 entries and 4 winners.

A total of $100,000 in prizes can be used however the start ups see fit to make work a more inclusive place.
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