Laura I. Gómez is one Latina who is taking Silicon Valley by storm. Find out why her work could change the face of business, too.
“Have you assessed your assets yet?” I asked, keeping myself from smiling a little at the alliteration. While I’d normally only do business with political candidates and organizations, occasionally I would do some management consulting for businesses. This was one of those moments, and the company in question was barely staying afloat.
The owner of the company looked at me, and started shuffling through the plastic spine bound financial reports in front of him, “Yes, we have accounts…”
“No. I know what’s on paper and in the bank,” I interrupted. “I mean your assets that keep your company running on a daily basis. Which of your employees are critically needed to stay in business?”
“All of them,” he said, as he watched me raise my eyebrows. “I guess…”
“You don’t know what you’re paying your employees to do, or whether or not you’re paying them too much, do you?”
He looked down at the table, and quietly said, “No, I don’t.”
The businessman was not a bad one, and I still wouldn’t describe him as incompetent. He was simply dealing with a temporary downturn in market niche, and needed to reassess how he operated his business. Management consultants might say that’s a common mistake, but honestly, it’s one they rely on to stay in business themselves. If every business owner and manager took a hard look at worker productivity on a monthly basis and acted on their findings, there would be virtually no need for consultants to help them streamline operations.
When I referred to employees as “assets,” it was also an intentional move. Too often employers do not view their workers in that way, and that includes from the point of hire through their entire time of employment. That means when someone is applying for a job, most potential employers do not look at the application materials as a brochure advertising a product to increase the value of the company as a whole. Part of the reason why they don’t is because many professionals in the human resources sector would say it’s dehumanizing. It definitely could be, if it was done in the wrong way. Right now, there is a new company in Silicon Valley which is selling the right way to do this.
Atipica is a software company founded by Laura I. Gómez, who was featured in USA Today. The feature was written because Gómez broke the glass ceiling (gender and race), by securing $2 million in venture capital for her company. Perhaps the bigger story is the fact that the software she’s developed could be used to get rid of that glass ceiling altogether in all industry.
The novel concept is focusing on skills, training, and competency when making hiring decisions – removing any other bias, and sorting through potential employee profiles based solely on what they can bring to a company. It’s also an idea that is desperately needed on the market today. In a sluggish economy, companies truly do need to focus on getting the best people for the jobs they need done, which isn’t accurately quantified when race, gender, and even educational history are given more attention than they deserve. A degree from the “right” school simply isn’t the same as actually having the skills and competencies that are required for a given job, and race or gender shouldn’t matter at all, either.
This software might be hailed by social justice activists, or it might fall flat, once they realize that it truly is focused on an applicant’s abilities as opposed to anything else. No matter what, Gómez didn’t just break through that barrier for herself. Her product has the potential to break barriers for many qualified workers who have been passed over for jobs over anything other than what really matters – having the skills needed to do the job well. Since Atipica has the potential to solve that problem, it’s time to focus on learning skills that are needed in the work force. It’s time for schools to start focusing on teaching skills, instead of just theories that have no use in the real world, outside of academia.