PowerToFly: How This Company Helps Diverse Professionals Advance Their Careers

By Amit Chowdhry • Sep 15, 2023

PowerToFly is a company that is helping diverse professionals advance their careers and helping companies become places where they can thrive. Pulse 2.0 interviewed PowerToFly CEO and co-founder Milena Berry to learn more.

Milena Berry’s Background

Berry was born in Bulgaria but moved to New York City in 2001 to pursue a master’s degree in the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU. Berry said:

“I studied robotics, wearables, and social software. After graduating, my passion for technology led me to become the CTO at Avaaz.org, where I scaled the organization’s tech platform from 0 to 33 million members. In 2014, I co-founded PowerToFly and have served as CEO ever since.”

Formation Of PowerToFly

How did the idea for PowerToFly come together? Berry shared:

“As a woman in tech in the early 2000s, I quickly became accustomed to hearing about pipeline problems and other issues that contributed to a lack of women in the field, but I didn’t see very much being done to address job placement and the jobs themselves.”

“When I was working at Avaaz, I was also growing my family — I had a 10-month-old child when I started there, and I had two more children during my time at the organization. Avaaz was totally remote, and I realized that the option to work from home made it possible for me to continue managing the other demands in my life while growing my career. I co-founded PowerToFly in 2014, hoping to increase gender diversity in male-dominated fields through remote and flexible work.”

“As my co-founder and I entered the world of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, we quickly realized that we needed to help all kinds of workplaces (remote or not!) become more diverse and that, most importantly, we wanted to help all kinds of people find success in their careers.”

“As we thought more deeply about our own identities (for example, I not only identify as a woman, but also as a caregiver, queer, and immigrant), we realized that the solutions we came up with to work on improving  gender disparities in the workplace could be extended to other identities.”

“Now, PowerToFly is a bridge between companies looking to diversify their workforces and underrepresented talent seeking work environments where they feel a sense of belonging.”

Favorite Memory

What has been your favorite memory working for PowerToFly so far? Berry shared:

“It’s so hard to choose just one, but I’m very proud of how we were able to support our workforce and our clients during the early days of the pandemic. We’ve been a remote-first company since our inception in 2014, but in 2020, most of our clients didn’t have much experience working remotely. At the time, we were doing a lot of in-person events and had to pivot many of our offerings.”

“Our in-person events were a fantastic way to drive recruiting ROI for our partners. We quickly shifted to doing them virtually, and we were one of the first companies to do this in the market. We were telling our corporate customers, “It’s gonna be okay, you’re going to get the same ROI, just focus on your recruiting needs. We can do this virtually.”

“The most significant adjustment was them saying yes. Many companies were saying, “Let’s hold off another month,” and hoping that COVID would be something that we got over in a couple of months. I had to say, “No, this is here to stay. This is a new way of working. Trust us; we know how to do this. We will handhold you on how to do this successfully while working remotely.” I’m very proud that PowerToFly was able to be a thought leader in that space.”

Discussion About Pride-Month Event

Back in June, PowerToFly hosted a Pride-Month event and job fair, which attracted over a dozen sponsors who have been hoping to uncover a diverse workforce talent. Some of the event’s past speakers include Arianna Huffington, Tiffany Cross, Valerie Jarrett, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and Rep. Mark Takano. How did this event originally come together, and how has it evolved over time? Berry noted:

“We hosted our first virtual Diversity Reboot Summit in June 2020 as a way to support our community members during the COVID-19 pandemic. We wanted to bring companies and diverse professionals together to not only help people find jobs but to discuss ways to make workplaces more diverse, inclusive, and equitable in the long term.”

“Since our first Diversity Reboot Summit in 2020, we’ve hosted 36 virtual summits, each focused on different groups and themes. All of our Summits remain focused on our original goal of fostering inclusion and belonging in the workplace, but we have refined our offerings over time, ensuring that our programming provides actionable takeaways for participants and that our community members understand how to connect with the participating companies during each Summit’s Virtual Job Fair.”

“In 2021, we hosted our first official Pride Summit, which focused specifically on the LGBTQIA+ community. Each year since, we’ve been able to put together an inspiring list of speakers and participating companies thanks to the relationships our team has built with advocates and thought leaders in this space.”

Challenges Faced

What are some of the challenges Berry faced in building the company and has the current macroeconomic climate affected the company? Berry acknowledged:

“Yes, just like a lot of the companies out there, we’re not immune to the macroeconomic climate. As a leader in diversity talent acquisition with a large clientele amongst tech startups, the recent mass layoffs across the sector mean that companies are not hiring.”

“PowerToFly’s strategy to think about DEIB holistically and not just from a talent acquisition angle has given us some immunity to the large swings that our peers are feeling. Still, we have had to focus on our core value prop, leading to the discontinuation of a few products and reorganization of our workforce, which is never easy.”

Core Products

What are PowerToFly’s core products and features? Berry explained:

“PowerToFly’s core offering is the DEIB Business Suite — the first all-in-one diversity recruiting, retention, and education product suite in its space.”

“The Suite allows us to help our clients integrate DEIB across every business function, in keeping with what the talent of today demands. As an easy-to-implement, true SaaS solution for end-to-end DEIB, it gives leaders a time- and cost-saving way to accelerate their company’s DEIB roadmap and overall HR and talent acquisition strategy at the same time.”

“Built to adapt to each organization’s needs, the industry-leading DEIB Business Suite offers customizable solutions in the form of its two initial products: PowerUp and PowerPro.”

“PowerPro is a talent acquisition and attraction tool that uses DEIB data and insights to help you identify and manage your talent pipeline, from start to end. Features include:

Insights Dashboard: Based on an active candidate funnel monitoring system, the Insights Dashboard offers clients insights about their company data and candidate funnel, as well as the diversity metrics of the PowerToFly talent pool.

Company Page: enables clients to showcase their company culture, values and promote their open roles. Companies can highlight key DEIB goals and stats, share important company information and updates, and feature PowerToFly-generated content.

Candidate Search: enables recruiters and talent sourcing specialists to optimize their recruitment efforts, identify diverse candidates efficiently, and make informed hiring decisions, leading to successful talent acquisition and overall organizational growth.

Unconscious Bias Toolkit: enables clients to create inclusive job listings for a number of common roles in the tech industry by reducing unconscious bias.

PowerUp is an on-demand DEIB training and upskilling platform. Features include:

Courses & Learning Pathways: Our DEIB courses and learning pathways are specially designed by industry subject matter experts on key DEIB topics.

DEIB Resources, Tools & Templates: Predesigned, customizable DEIB resources, templates, and tools.

Each one of our courses and training comes with a certification upon completion, in addition to HRCI and SHRM credits for completed courses/training. PowerUp courses currently include DEIB Fundamentals, DEIB Programming, Inclusive Interviewing, and more!”

Evolution Of PowerToFly’s Technology

How has PowerToFly’s technology evolved since launching? Berry pointed out:

“With the launch of the DEIB Business Suite, we’ve taken what PowerToFly has always done — equipping our clients with the expertise and tools they need to find, attract, hire, upskill, and retain diverse talent — and built a way to do it at scale.”

“Our technology now enables clients to self-serve directly on the platform (i.e. by analyzing their recruitment funnels or searching for underrepresented talent with our diversity filters) in ways they weren’t able to before. We have always leveraged AI in our product builds, but we’re also making a significant investment on that front right now.”

“Thanks to the investment we closed in May 2022, we have been able to significantly ramp up the speed of our product builds, and I am incredibly excited about the impact this will have on our customers.”

Significant Milestones

What have been some of PowerToFly’s most significant milestones? Berry cited:

“In 2022, PowerToFly closed its first official round of funding since 2015. The funding — led by Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital, and with additional capital from The Next Level Fund, in partnership with Hearst, Microsoft, and Walmart; Chartline Ventures; and Grasshopper Bank — set us up for the launch of the DEIB Business Suite in April this year, which was another significant milestone.”

Customer Success Stories

Upon asking Berry about customer success stories, she replied:

“Our customers come to us for help with talent attraction, talent acquisition, and upskilling and education on DEIB. The most evolved companies are working with us across our offerings.”

“We believe that companies need to invest in their employer branding materials (videos/ blogs) and show underrepresented talent that they belong before asking them to apply.”

“Our customers can leverage PowerPro and also work on diversifying their pipeline with underrepresented candidates. They use PowerToFly to make sure that the identities that are missing in their organizations are represented in the hiring process before the best-suited candidate for the job gets the offer.”

“One of my favorite stories to tell is us working with one of the big four tech companies on a series of events. They realized 22 hires right after the event and leveraged the rest of their talent pipeline over the next few months to realize more.”

Differentiation From The Competition

What differentiates PowerToFly from its competition? Berry affirmed:

“As an easy-to-implement, true SaaS solution for end-to-end DEIB, PowerToFly gives leaders a time- and cost-saving way to accelerate their company’s DEIB roadmap and overall HR and talent acquisition strategy at the same time. Our diversity filters will make it easy for clients to connect with the underrepresented talent they’re looking for, all in one convenient platform.”

Future Company Goals

What are some of PowerToFly’s future company goals? Berry concluded:

“PowerToFly is two-sided in the sense that we’re a platform for skilled workers to connect to companies and vice versa. On the company side, we have ambitious product buildouts and major releases slated for every quarter. We’re also continuing to build out the AI capabilities of our product.”

“On the community side, stay tuned for our imminent community platform launch and for a more robust upskilling offering early next year. Change is the only constant. There is still a huge mismatch between supply and demand of qualified talent, so we’re looking at how our platform can not only connect the talent once they have a certain skill but help them develop a missing skill.”