MEET THE DEVELOPER
Making the workplace more equal
Pip Jamieson says, unashamedly, that she always “wanted global domination”. She began The Dots, a professional network for creatives in 2014, from her houseboat on London's Regent's Canal. But her aim is “to take on LinkedIn,” and become the leading online professional network.
With more than 300,000 members, Jamieson is well on her way to making this a reality.
The Dots caters for the creative industries – photographers, designers, writers – people Jamieson refers to as “no collar” workers. Members can showcase their careers differently to those using traditional professional networks.
“The white collar community is very linear,” Jamieson explains. “You do one job for a few years and move on to the next.” But while working at MTV in Australia, Jamieson noticed a change. “I was surrounded by people with ‘portfolio careers’,” she says.
“This is how the under-35s work. If they have a full time role, they are running an independent magazine on the side,” she says. “They’re working on multiple things and using very different skillsets at the same time.”
So, on The Dots, members upload their professional projects and tag others with whom they collaborated. Likewise businesses credit members whom they hired for specific projects.
This allows companies to discover talent based on work they admire. For example, “Burberry loves to look at Kenzo projects and hire people who create work for Kenzo,” explains Jamieson.
Members increasingly use the service from their iPhones, so Jamieson launched an app of The Dots at the start of 2018 and has recently hired two iOS designers to develop it further.
But as a sole female founder, “which is very unusual in tech,” says Jamieson, she has her sights on changing far more in the labour market than just how people look for work.
I can’t talk about diversity on a product front and not have a diverse team.
Pip Jamieson, founder of The Dots.
“Our platform is 62.9 percent female, over 31 percent BAME [black, asian and minority ethnic], 16 percent LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender],” explains Jamieson. This is not an accident.
“We have curators who choose who to feature at the top. Unconscious bias exists, and when you see someone like you, it encourages you to join,” she tells us. “By featuring someone it boosts them in our algorithm. This means more diverse talent appears in search results and clients see an amazing mix of women and minorities.”
Jamieson hopes this will help create greater diversity in the workplace – and this was at the root of her inspiration for The Dots. “At MTV, as in much of the creative industry, we were just hiring mates of mates” she says. “The team became really homogenous – we went to similar universities and had similar backgrounds – and the creative output became really stale.”
As such, Jamieson decide to prevent searches by university through The Dots. For a month around International Women’s Day, it featured only projects created by women on the Projects page. Upcoming plans include showcasing work by people with disabilities or learning difficulties.
“We researched how men and women use products,” she says. “In search, for example, women prefer a dropdown list and men prefer free search. The problem with having a primarily male engineering team is we subconsciously build products for ourselves, not for everyone.”
So, The Dots has company targets for hiring female, ethnic minority and LGBT team members. Jamieson even sought funding from investors who support minorities, to ensure shareholder diversity too.
“I can’t talk about diversity on a product front and not have a diverse team,” she says. With those values, when she achieves that “global domination” with The Dots you can expect positive changes in the worldwide job market.