Startup led by ex-Goldman Sachs HR chief launches diversity and inclusion index

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Eskalera, a technology startup led by Goldman Sachs former human resources head Dane Holmes, has launched an index to measure corporate diversity and inclusiveness, the firm said on Thursday.

Eskalera’s software collects information on employee sentiment and company culture and combines it with HR data to generate a score for inclusivity that can be measured against competitors.

The goal is to give companies actionable information on changes needed to increase diversity, said Holmes, Eskalera’s chief executive.

Eskalera is among a group of startups developing software to help corporations hire and retain more diverse staff. Companies that provide some similar services to Eskalera include Visier, Culture Amp and Qualtrics.

Eskalera, whose clients include Charles Schwab Corp SCHW.N, Cornell University and Oscar Health, has seen an uptick in inquiries from prospective clients over the past few weeks, Holmes said.

Many U.S. companies have pledged funds and issued statements in support of racial diversity amid protests that erupted since George Floyd, a black man, died on May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes.

The gestures by corporate America have drawn some criticism from diversity experts, who say companies should also look at improving racial equity within their ranks.

“If you don’t go down that path, what’s going to happen is 49 weeks from now, when it’s the one-year anniversary of George Floyd, you’re going to have nothing to show in your organization for what you’ve done,” Holmes said.

“What you have done to date is pretty easy; you’ve had to write a note of support and a check.”

Fewer than 1% of Fortune 500 CEOs are black, according to a 2019 study by the Center for Talent Innovation. Around 13% of Americans identify as black or African American, according to federal data.

Reporting by Anna Irrera and Imani Moise in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman