Does Jopwell Matter? Or merely #matter?
It has been two years since Jopwell’s founding. The months turn into years and I grow increasingly concerned, frustrated, and disappointed at what Jopwell has produced in that time: a forgettable desktop-centric website + The Well — a publishing platform manned entirely by volunteers writing in disconnected boxes + a steady stream of #hashtag high-fives and tweets. Oh yah, and random pop up events that appear briefly, emit #hashtags, then vanish beneath the surface of the sea of social media meaninglessness without a trace .
Seriously? That’s it? Magic Johnson wrote you a check? … for this?
Ok. Let’s unpack this. Jopwell describes it’s mission as getting black and brown men and women employed in tech (software engineering, basically) and various tech-attached roles (design, U/X, product dev, marketing, etc.). Let’s look at how Jopwell goes about this.
The website. The first thing you see when you hit the site is a weirdly anachronistic rotating set of three headshots. I call them Collegiate Stud Dude, Generic Bodiqua, and Biz Bro:
Huh? Whah? Is it 1996? Can’t I click on these things? No. Hey, she looks like a girl I knew who lived up on Dyckman St … oh, whoa, wait a minute. These aren’t Jopwell clients! These are stock photos from HappyShineyNegros.com.
Ryan. Porter. Bruh. You are not Ebony magazine. You are not Jet magazine. This is November 2016. LinkedIn is a thing. You show a headshot it damn sure better link to a bio and deeper details about a real person you do real business with.
Next up, onboarding which has about as much thought, imagination, and concern for user experience as the Manhattan DMV. Late on a Friday afternoon. In August.
Jopwell, why on earth do you force me into an onboarding experience before giving me any reason to do business with you? I don’t know you. What can you do for me that dozens of other job sites can not? Why do you refuse to allow me to speak to anyone in your “community” No, I don’t mean Collegiate Stud Dude and his friends. I mean the thousands of happy satisfied Jopwell customers. Where is everyone? Where is this community you speak of? Surely there is a Slack channel where the Jopwell “community” hang’s out and shares job hunting war stories. Where Jopwell staffers provide tips and leads and do all the obvious things one does when providing a job hunting service targeted to black and brown people in 2016?
By the way to see what a well designed website with a thoughtful onboarding experience looks and feels like try Harry’s or Warby Parker. In fact you have team members within Jopwell that worked at these companies. Why the hell are you not using them to fix this? W.T.F.
Of course, the reality is I am not Jopwell’s customer. The companies, organizations, and recruiters that give $$$ to Jopwell for leads are your customers. Me? I am raw material. I am product. I am expected to dutifully place myself on the “onboarding” assembly line, get processed, databased, assigned a number, and have Jopwell present me to their real customers. Jopwell has decided there is no business incentive to change the crappy site user experience for poor schlubs like myself who expect better.
Jopwell do you have any clue what life is actually like for black and brown people, hitting the bricks, going out there seeking work in a blizzard white industry? I know you do ’cause you love to #hashtag and tweet about it.
Above all else Jopwell must provide a safe, supportive, informative, inspiring, space for black and brown job seekers. The Jopwell site provides none of this. What’s that? … The Well? No, you don’t get a pass. The Well is powered by volunteers unaffiliated with your company who actually give damn. Jopwell you need to put way more skin in the game and not expect the rest of us to do it for you.
For an example of a website that evokes the feelings and sense of belonging Jopwell must emulate look no further then Techies Project.
For a look at what a modern digital space for black designers and techies looks like (site + podcast + Slack community) Maurice Cherry’s Revision Path is the template.
As Malcolm would say Let me make it plain: Every day somewhere in America a black man or a black woman with a CS degree looking for work will sit down across an interview table from a white male hiring manager quietly freaking out. For the first time in this guys impoverished little life he is talking to black person who is his intellectual equal. This will not go well.
What will Jopwell do to support this man and woman? Tweet out a #hashtag?
What resources does Jopwell provide right now for them to prepare themselves for this ordeal? To gird themselves for the existential shit storm they have to go through every phucking day. Provide a link to something on The Well?
Jopwell you must do better. Matter, damn it.