diversity joelle emerson 2
Founder Joelle Emerson
  • What it's doing: Consulting tech startups on diversity best practices

A former women's rights lawyer, Joelle Emerson recognized that there were very real barriers facing women and minorities in tech.

"But they're not the types of things you can file a lawsuit over, and they're certainly not the kind of things you can win a lawsuit over," said Emerson, 29.

That's why Emerson, a graduate of Stanford Law School, quit her day job and launched a new venture, Paradigm, to advise tech firms on improving diversity.

She's currently consulting with six firms -- Pinterest being one of them -- ranging in size from 100 to 2,000 employees.

The nature of her work depends on the company's needs but ranges from collecting data on the workforce to analyzing why women aren't promoted at the same rate as men to instructing recruiters on interview questions.

"We're making flawed decisions," said Emerson, who is based in the Bay Area. "But [we] can build out tools to prevent that from happening."

First published March 30, 2015: 4:10 PM ET

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