NEW YORK — Nov. 10, 2020 — While this year has been marked by nationwide discussions around diversity and inclusion, racial equality, and political uncertainty, 12 veterans from exceptionally diverse backgrounds came together today to launch a new, effective, unbiased learning technology and mobile app. The diversitypop™ program is built for organizations as an anonymous system to deliver diversity training to people on the go, deploying a range of repeatable digital experiences that mirror the inclusivity experience that the founders experienced over thirty years ago.
“When America’s service academy graduates were trained for diversity and inclusion in the 1980’s, they did so via immersive experiences and intense interactions with people not like themselves,” said Drew Bartkiewicz, one of the 12 co-founders of diversitypop, who developed product inspiration from his tenure at salesforce.com in the early 2000s. “They learned at a young age that ‘inclusion was an infusion,’ not only to the mind of the individual but to the effectiveness of the team itself. And now over thirty years later, we formed a company to deliver that learning experience and repeatable diversity training enabled with the scalability of technology.”
Although diversity training programs are usually well intended, a study out of the University of Toronto showed that these programs can actually increase bias among employees. This is because they publicly force outside ideas about the value of diversity onto employees and imply that the employees don’t have the freedom to think about these issues on their own terms.
The diversitypop mobile app and underlying technology apply algorithms and personalization, leveraging information sciences, “clean” artificial intelligence, and cognitive learning methods that are increasingly the epicenter of modern learning. The diversitypop goal is to train the brain for diversity and inclusion without the friction and slowness of traditional methods.
“As evidenced by the events of 2020, we are all reminded that diversity is only a goal on the organization chart if we do not individually tap into our inclusion instincts,” said John Tien, co-founder of diversitypop and Rhodes Scholar. “What started for us as a mission to improve our leadership skills turned into a mandate to help people grow the greatest life skill there is: inclusion.”
As a result of the announcement, diversitypop will make the technology available to all high schools for free, as the need for remote Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) technology has reached a new high point with remote learning and an increasingly diverse American population. As for businesses, the diversitypop team will invite business leaders to experience the programming as a 30-day free trial for their organizations.
The diversitypop program lets members discover topics, surveys, and tests to grow their inclusive skills and uncover potential areas of their own implicit biases. Without the need for any personally identifiable information, and in contrast with the personal data needs of social media and enterprise software, diversitypop builds and helps sustain personal diversity and inclusion skills with:
- Smart notifications on the new aspects of the diversity wheel, an academic area of study that has emerged as a discovery tool to see and live diversity more broadly
- Personalized content about cultures, race, gender, disabilities, and a range of other topics
- Interactive PopScores that gamify and offer tools to grow inclusion instincts
- Administrative level to allow DEI leaders to customize diversitypop to their goals and measurements
“If we can use technology to watch what we eat, workout on smart biometric equipment, meditate, or hail a rideshare, then we can surely deploy software to grow our capacities to better understand and respect people different than ourselves,” said Nana Adae, a Navy veteran, co-founder and senior executive in financial services. “diversitypop is an intelligent and anonymous platform for any person in any organization to tap the diversity multiples in their midst.”
The veterans that formed diversitypop come from all walks of life, each with inspirational backgrounds. They include:
- Nana Adae is a senior executive in financial services, where she is active in diversity and inclusion initiatives. Nana spent seven years on active duty as a Cryptologic Officer after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy.
- Albert Alba is a retired military veteran with over 26 years of service. He served three combat tours of duty and was awarded the Silver Star and three Bronze Stars.
- Roy E. Alston, PhD is a West Point graduate who served in combat with 82nd Airborne Division during the first Gulf War. Roy is a retired Dallas Police Department Major.
- Drew Bartkiewicz is a twenty-five-year software veteran and Chairman of Patriapps, the leading veteran venture lab in America. He served in Italy and Iraq as a field artillery officer with the 82nd Airborne, where he received the Bronze Star and Army Commendation medals during the Gulf War in 1991.
- Steven B. Choi is a seasoned leader currently serving as a senior Cybersecurity strategist for the Department of Defense. His combat deployments include Desert Storm/Shield, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
- Everton Cranston is a global pharmaceutical industry executive with 25+ years working in diverse commercial consulting, sales and operations functions. He served as an officer with the United States Army’s 32nd Field Artillery Regiment during the Gulf War.
- Colonel Gregory D. Gadson is a 25-year career Army officer. Greg served in every major conflict of the past two decades. Greg’s greatest challenge came in Iraq, where an IED attack cost him both legs above the knees and normal use of his right arm and hand. He received the Distinguished Service Medal; Legion of Merit (2); Bronze Stars (3); Purple Heart; the Meritorious Service Medal (3) and the Army Commendation Medal (3).
- Adolphus Gwynn is a software executive for the largest software company in Europe. He is a Bronze Star recipient and combat veteran of Operation Desert Storm. He is an Airborne Ranger, having commanded twice at the 82nd Airborne Division.
- Carlos Perez is a combat Army veteran and serves as Treasurer of the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association (AAFMAA). Prior to joining AAFMAA, he served over 26 years as an Army Officer in a variety of command and staff assignments, including battalion command in the United States and operational and combat deployments to Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
- Patrice Sutherland is an Army combat veteran and was awarded the Bronze Star. She currently heads up the Government Sales organization at Integra Lifesciences, where her team focuses on bringing life-saving medical devices to active duty military personnel and veterans.
- John Tien is a Managing Director at Citigroup. Prior to joining Citi and in his role on the National Security Council staff, John was a senior national security and policy advisor in both the Bush and Obama Administrations, and was also a White House Fellow in the Clinton Administration. In 1986, John became the first ever Asian to be named the top cadet at West Point and serve as the First Captain and Brigade Commander of the Corps of Cadets. John went on to serve 24 years in the active duty Army to include three combat tours in Iraq.
- Jim Ziegler is a pharmaceutical industry executive with 25+ years dedicated to improving patient lives. He is currently Senior Vice President, Commercial at lovance Biotherapeutics. He served as an armor officer with the United States Army’s 5th Infantry Division.
The diversitypop team was formed among 12 diverse co-founders who had a common thread: they were exposed early in life to diverse people, situations, and ideas, forever shaping their habits to seek people and build teams “not like themselves.” The diversitypop system is designed with emerging methods in cognitive learning and neuroplasticity, using pop media, surveys and trivia as a means to increase the surface area of diversity and inclusion intelligence for millions of people. For more information, visit www.diversitypop.com and follow diversitypop on Twitter @diversitypopapp and LinkedIn.