Rhett Lindsey: Combating Recruitment Bias With an App

A recruiting app unlike any other

When Rhett Lindsey got tired of seeing how dehumanizing and transactional the hiring process could be, he decided to leave his six figure job last fall to uproot the system.

Portrait of Rhett Lindsey
Bobby Quillard

A recruitment professional from the start, Lindsey always has loved being able to provide people opportunities, especially when it comes to jobs. Despite relishing his work, however, he felt there was a missing piece at certain companies—being able to have a voice.

“Being a Black queer man in tech, we’re very few and in between, and I wasn’t really afforded the opportunity to be a part of conversations that could excel recruitment,” Lindsey told Lifewire in a phone interview. “It was frustrating, and I felt like we were missing marks and I was contributing to a growing problem.”

That problem Lindsey is referring to is diversity and inclusion recruitment, which is what he’s focused on transforming with Siimee (pronounced "see me"), an upcoming recruitment platform that focuses on who people really are. With this new tech startup, Lindsey is trying to provide an equitable and unbiased connection experience between job seekers and employers.

Quick Facts About Rhett Lindsey

  • Name: Rhett Lindsey
  • Age: 32
  • From: Atlanta, Georgia. Raised by a single mother, he grew up in Clayton County. 
  • Favorite games to play: As an avid PlayStation 5 player, he is currently into the Uncharted series, Tomb Raider, NBA 2K, Resident Evil Biohazard with VR and God of War 
  • Key quote or motto he lives by: "Inclusion is the connector between diversity and opportunity."

From Red Flags to Building an App

Lindsey, a former Facebook and Tinder employee, is focused on bringing compassion, access, community, respect, and accountability to the forefront of the recruiting process. But he didn’t know his quest to amp up the recruitment experience would lead him to launch a tech startup.

"I’ve always had a passion for technology, and I didn’t know how I could excel at it," he said.

After being tasked with finding Black engineers at Facebook, he said he saw a bigger problem with how recruitment is often handled.

The social media giant would only dedicate a one hour meeting weekly to diversity and inclusion sourcing, Lindsey shared. There a specific team would internally tag people as certain races and genders. 

"We were assuming what someone was without that person disclosing what they identified as," he shared. "I was really alarmed by that, and I did raise up some flags on that type of approach. We were building statistics on inaccurate data."

Lindsey was mainly concerned with this because not all people of color might identify themselves with the same nationalities that recruiters would assume they are.

A screenshot of the branding message on the Siimee.com website.

Through the Siimee app, he’s trying to break that barrier by allowing job seekers to share the details that matter most about themselves. 

Siimee’s founder also is leaning into this leadership role to break the stigma of what a tech startup CEO should look like. 

"When we have leadership at the top that is majority Caucasian, it’s really hard for them to, I think, identify what diversity truly means," he said.

"The true definition of diversity is the expansion of all, it’s the inclusion of everyone. Diversity is a melting pot of different races, genders, ethnicities, creeds, colors; everything could be diverse."

Preparing for Launch

With a team of 13 employees, Siimee is on track to launch later this spring, and the company already has raised $250,000 from a couple of investors.

Richard Lawson, Beyoncé’s stepfather, is a part of Siimee’s advisory team. As Siimee inches toward launch, Lindsey is most looking forward to giving job seekers a better chance at landing a job that matches what they are looking for. 

"It’s an app directly connected to bridging job seekers and employers by creating a one-to-one matching experience," he said.

"We’re highlighting users’ backgrounds, their interests, their aspirations, while also the biggest thing, eliminating bias early that historically occurs in the recruiting process."

A portrait of Rhett Lindsey.
Bobby Quillard

Lindsey said the pandemic has offered his team space and time to really flesh out the Siimee product. But, on the negative side, he said it has still been a challenge growing the company during such an unpredictable time.

As a Black queer founder, he already felt like he’d have to go the extra mile to get in front of venture capital firms, so he’s been leveraging his network and leaning on those connections as he’s prepared for launch. 

Some key features on the Siimee app include the option for job seekers to hide their photos before sharing their resumes, and the ability for recruiters to swipe left to disregard or right to connect.

It’s kind of like the popular dating apps in use today, but strictly professional. "When two people match, it’s because they made an intentional effort to want to connect," he said.

A Tech Startup to Impact and Influence

When people match on the app, they also will be able to see where their interests align, from job seekers wanting mentorship to recruiters looking for on-site talent. To make sure the process stays authentic, the Siimee team plans to monitor how recruiters and job seekers are interacting.

For instance, if recruiters are repeatedly attempting to end connections after discovering how job seekers look or identify, companies could face expulsion from the platform. Siimee also will provide companies with data designed to help them assess their diversity, equity, and inclusion status. 

The app will be free to use for job seekers, and companies will have the option of subscribing at three different levels. 

"I’ve always had a passion for technology, and I didn’t know how I could excel at it."

This year, Lindsey’s main goal is reworking the approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion outreach. He said he doesn’t want Siimee to be in a lane by itself; he wants his tech startup to impact and influence other recruiting platforms already in use.

If he has to be the first to do it, Lindsey is prepared to start this hard, but needed conversation. 

"The only way for me to make change is for me to step out on faith and make my own table that is inclusive for all and focus on my efforts of what I’ve learned about what it takes to recruit equal opportunities for all people and to attract the right talent." he shared.

"With anything that is rewarding, it takes sacrifices, it takes some hurdles to get over. Nothing’s worth having if you don’t have some type of obstacle to get through."

Was this page helpful?