Yikes, Inc. gets $10,000 to continue work on bias-busting WordPress plugin - Technical.ly Philly


May 21, 2018 12:57 pm

Yikes, Inc. gets $10,000 to continue work on bias-busting WordPress plugin

Level Playing Field is a website add-on that lets companies anonymize their candidate data. An award from PNC Bank will help get the product to the finish line.

Tracy (right) and Mia Levesque, founders of Yikes, Inc., accepting the big check.

(Courtesy photo)

Pit two identical, fictitious resumes against each other and hiring managers are likely to offer “John” more money than “Jennifer.”

Backed by $10,000 from the PNC LGBT Business Award, Fishtown-based dev shop Yikes, Inc. is hoping to change that via a bias-busting WordPress plugin called Level Playing Field (LPF).

Yikes cofounder Tracy Levesque — who co-owns the company alongside wife Mia Levesque — said the plugin will help hiring managers take a look at anonymized candidate data, stripped of gender, age and other information, in the hopes of making the process leading up to interviews as free as possible of unconscious bias.

“They way we’ve operated our biz is looking at qualifications and doing merit-based hiring,” Levesque said. “We’ve always had a diverse staff from Day 1 because in a city as diverse as Philly, there’s no excuse.”

The tool, currently in development, is expected to be made available in December. A freemium model will help smaller companies and nonprofits have access to a limited number of posts while opening up a paid avenue with added features for larger organizations.

“We want to build something that’s easy to implement, quick and affordable,” Levesque said.

The proceeds from the award will help get the plugin, which has been in development for 18 months, to ship. A portion of the award from PNC will also go to Black- and LGBTQ-owned digital marketing firm MarketHERS.

“It makes me so happy because the perfect amount of money we need to get this to the finish line,” Levesque said. “I want us to be the ones to help fix this problem. The fact that it’s a collaborative group of people from marginalized communities helping to solve it makes me really proud and happy.”

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