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‘There’s Been Years of Neglect’: Entrepreneur Creates an Online Platform to Allow Employees to Leave Honest Reviews About Their Experience at a Company

Ekow Sanni-Thomas has revolutionized the way Black and brown job seekers apply to positions forever. Sanni-Thomas created Inside Voices, an online platform that allows minority workers to post anonymous reviews about their experience at a company. This makes it easier for employees to discuss both racism at work and toxic company cultures.

(Photo: LinkedIn)

“When people originally think of the platform, they think of it as a whistleblower, or a personal review site, so they expect people to come on and talk about their personal stories of good or bad treatment,” Sanni-Thomas told Finurah. “And that is common. People do include that in their reviews, but the intention is really to galvanize the army of people who care about making companies more diverse.”

After working in the corporate world for over a decade, Sanni-Thomas saw how Black employees were dismissed by companies that often championed diversity and inclusion. In Sanni-Thomas’ experience, he witnessed companies that would drop the ball when it came to investing time and money into making diversity a priority over other issues like boosting revenue or cutting costs. 

Sanni-Thomas created Inside Voices to address the “trust deficit between employer and employees who’ve struggled to recruit in the first place,” he said. “This is an opportunity for companies actually to hear how these employees think they are doing in a manner where employees don’t fear retribution.”

Part of the reason Inside Voices has more than 5,000 user reviews from companies like Salesforce, Google and Deloitte, is because “we solicit reviews from employees directly,” Sanni-Thomas said. “We don’t go through companies, and we want people to really understand this is a platform for the people first.”

Sanni-Thomas believes that if a platform like his had existed in earlier years, it would have saved him from repeated negative experiences. When he first entered the workforce, he admitted that “he was easily fogged by empty words, and I just believed them when they said they did something. I kind of expected always to be the ‘other’ and be one of the few Black and brown faces. I thought I could weather the storm, no matter how bad it got.”

Sanni-Thomas later felt the toll of the constant pressure and microaggressions of the workplace.

“The constant lack of validation and lack of reward demoralized me,” he said. “And at the time, I came to see how I had been slowed down by the often invisible hand of discrimination. Companies are not currently culturally competent at speaking to, listening to or understanding employees of color. Obviously not every company but a vast majority, and over the years, there’s been years of neglect and failure to live up to expectations and empty promises.”

Sanni-Thomas’s plan for Inside Voices is to also revamp the website by filtering the spam. 

So what makes this platform different from Glassdoor or other employer-reviewing websites?

Well, Sanni-Thomas is after insider information and it’s not the kind you think. He describes it as: “Information they don’t realize is invaluable to other people. It’s about sharing the information you can only get by being on the inside, in a covert way so that we can use that knowledge to empower everybody.”

But running a platform like this is not without its challenges. Securing authentic reviews are his priority for Inside Voices, along with steering clear of legal troubles. 

“I have been wary since the beginning of legal challenges,” Sanni-Thomas explained. “I don’t want to say we check reviews for authenticity at this stage. It’s not possible, or it’ll never be possible to validate whether they are true or not, so there’s always a chance a company may try to come and squash us very quickly very early, but we’ve engaged in legal council from the very beginning.” 

Sanni-Thomas also doesn’t think his company is at the size yet where big companies feel threatened. His goal is not only to provide public knowledge about companies’ inclusion efforts, but to improve them. 

“We hope these companies learn that transparency is actually in their favor,” he said. “It can feel like they’re being the bad kid in class, but the reality is transparency can serve these companies in so many other domains, and it can force them to do better and be more honest and hold themselves accountable.” 

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