Disclo aims to inspire inclusive workplaces
Disclo aims to inspire inclusive workplaces
CEO and co-founder of Disclo Hannah Olson was diagnosed with Lyme disease while in college. At the time, she didn’t really consider herself disabled, even if that meant spending hours every day hooked up to an IV.
When she entered the workforce, she quickly faced the challenges of navigating, disclosing and seeking help around her condition. “I had no idea about this process, but I saw with my own eyes how uncomfortable it was.” This lack of knowledge is what would jump-start her entire entrepreneurial journey – from spending time as a disability employment counselor to founding her first company, Chronically Capable, with a former boss, Kai Keane.
Chronically Capable helps people with disabilities and chronic conditions find flexible jobs, and now, after evolving it for nearly five years, the founding duo have built another company that takes it a step further into a similar world. Disclo, an Atlanta-based startup, is developing software that helps employees request accommodations at work, and it allows employers to collect, verify, and manage health disclosures and accommodation requests from employees. in a HIPAA and SOC2 compliant manner.
Investors believe it fills a real need in the market, with General Catlyst leading a $5 million seed round in Disclo, joined by Y Combinator, Bain Capital Ventures and Lerer Hippeau. With known funding of $6.5 million so far, Disclo has also brought Chronically Capable under its umbrella given the synergies between the two. While Chronically Capable is all about recruiting talent with diverse needs, Disclo helps startups ensure they first offer an appropriate fit process to support their hiring.
It’s not about startups being thoughtful, says Keane, who is chief product officer (Olson is CEO). It’s about following the established rules.
“We don’t see this as an extra effort – it’s a matter of compliance,” he says. “You obey the law, and a lot of companies don’t know how to do that or just don’t,” he says.
At the same time, Disclo hopes that its mere existence raises awareness of these regulations, to the benefit of everyone involved. “There is a certain stigma and silence about asking for things at work, and [employers] don’t advertise how to ask for accommodations at work. Disclo’s job, from Keane’s perspective, is to help employees understand their rights and protect the employer by documenting and normalizing an often unstructured conversation.
Adoption is especially important at times like these, argues Olson, who notes that based on data from the last recession, tech companies are more likely to see employees sue more often and for higher amounts, because they are more financially motivated to do so.
Even as the economy recovers quickly, remote work has also created pressure on employers to find better technologies to support a distributed team. Olson said there’s been a 61% increase in employee accommodation requests — a statistic she says shows the need for employers to take disability requests more seriously.
A key aspect of Disclo’s software is that it anonymizes what an employee’s disability is, instead telling the employer that the person has filed a disability notice and could use the following accommodations to feel more supported at work. This might help given that not all disabilities are visible and not all people with disabilities feel comfortable declaring that they have one.
Olson’s personal experience underscored how difficult it was to navigate the disclosure process and find a company that “accepted” what it needed. Disclo does not require startups to provide certain accommodations, but puts in place a framework for a company to be more aware and able to support its employees.
Speaking of the disorganization that rules many startups, one wonders why the sheer number of HR tech startups haven’t sought to disrupt the accommodation side of operations for people with disabilities. Some startups are forced to use sticky notes and box readers because restrictive laws don’t allow information to be stored inside HR platforms, Olsen says, while larger companies use companies. disability insurance.
“A lot of companies think of accommodation from an insurance claims perspective, but accommodation encompasses a lot more than just insurance stuff,” she said, as the postponement of the work, the arrival of your pet or the request for captioning tools. “These requests often require a conversation with a manager and we’re here to help.”
In that case, maybe the tech is just lagging behind. Steve O’Hear, a former TechCrunch reporter, wrote about the lack of disability reporting from tech companies in 2016.
“At best, technology acts as an enabler for people with disabilities, helping to level the playing field, and therefore can be a real force for social mobility,” O’Hear wrote at the time. “However, since disability is not included in most tech companies’ public diversity reporting, what we don’t know is how much the tech industry itself cares about it. comes out on the number of people with disabilities it employs and how that compares from company to company.” Noting challenges with under-reporting and a general lack of transparency around companies, he urged the tech industry to “find a way to be more responsible.”
Disclo is convinced to be the first software publisher to work on this specific niche. Let’s see if the technology is ready to be an early adopter.