EPISODE 220   |   

June 20, 2024

How Purpose-Driven Business Models Help a Female Founder Achieve Acquisition Success

Helen McGuire

Helen joined us three years ago to share how to attract 70% more diverse talent by leveraging DEI – diversity, equity and inclusion. This time, she returns as a special guest to share an amazing feat – the platform she co-founded, Diversely.io, has just been recently acquired. This means more sourcing and recruitment firms can now access the platform, meaning more recruiters and sourcing firms can embed DEI in their hiring process.

What fascinates me more is Helen’s strategies and lessons learned from exiting Diversely.io. She shared strategies and things she would have done differently, which I am sure many of us will also learn from. Overall, Helen believes the key to success is following a purpose-driven business model.

Helen McGuire is an exited founder, author, advisor, mother, podcast host and DEI changemaker. 

Helen is a leading figure in DEI and business strategy and is renowned for her impactful initiatives. She founded Hopscotch. work, the first women’s careers platform in the Middle East and Asia, and her journey led to the creation of Diversely.io, a groundbreaking AI platform acquired by The Access Group in 2023.

As the host of The D&Igest podcast and author of the upcoming book  ‘The Female Scale’, Helen’s expertise extends to coaching female founders and advocating for purposeful businesses globally. 

Episode Outline and Highlights

  • [02:50] Helen shares updates on Diversely.io’s acquisition by the Access Group.
  • [08:54] What barriers do entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds face when starting a business?
  • [13:00] Encouraging more women to take the entrepreneurial leap.
  • [17:33] Walkthrough on Diversely.io’s exit process and how a purpose-driven business model made it happen.
  • [30:00] Things that Helen would have done differently when undergoing acquisition.
  • [38:31] Teaser on Helen’s new book, The Female Scale.

Embedding DEI Into the Business Strategy

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are critical in the hiring process. This is essential because it is the right thing to do and a strategic business decision that can lead to more innovative and successful organizations.

I had Helen as a guest three years ago, and I am fascinated by her current position on championing DEI in the recruitment industry. She is a great example of an astounding business leader who advocates equity and opportunity for lesser-represented groups.  As a female founder, you will hear insightful perspectives on how underrepresentation affects certain groups and how to empower more women to launch their own businesses.

She is about to finish a new book, The Female Scale, which will provide insights on this issue. “It’s not written specifically for women, but it’s written with a very female lens. You know, the challenges that you encounter as a woman setting up a business, and there are, you know, so many female-led businesses, startups, smaller businesses out there.”

In this episode, Helen shared an astounding feat: They could exit Diversely.io, an end-to-end hiring platform that uses tech to reduce bias in businesses’ hiring processes. By being acquired, she believes this platform will be more accessible to a much larger audience of sourcing and recruitment firms.

Learnings on Being Acquired and Exit Strategies

As a business owner, you may relate with me if you are also fascinated with stories of how exits and acquisitions work. I wanted Helen to walk me through what was involved in their acquisition process. She shared detailed stories of how it started, what was expected, and what happened. She also shared curve balls and how their expertise and networks played major roles in making the exit happen.

In hindsight, here are some learnings that Helen shared if you ever plan to exit or scale your business:

  • Be more prepared for the level of due diligence you must go through.
  • Be well-organized: ensuring all relevant agreements and data sheets are in one place.
  • Invest in good lawyers and accountants – they are absolute lifesavers.

What resonated with me the most was Helen’s idea of the exit. It has always been purpose-driven.

“And you have to kind of, so when you’re thinking about selling your business, it’s not just about what I need from it as a dollar value. What can I also achieve off the back of that? What does that give me as a founder, as someone who’s going on this journey?”

Building a Purpose-Driven Business Model

Building a business, especially focusing on recruiting and sourcing, is not always profit-focused. The vision and mission statements need to be clear, as the impact we can have on people can be life-changing. 

This aligns with what Helen believes when creating a purpose-driven business model. This is how she described it: 

“And it wasn’t all about the dollar value. I think when you set up a purpose-driven business, it’s very important to keep profit and profitability in mind because it’s hard to create impact without that. It’s not sustainable as a business or as an idea. But equally, you’ve got to balance it with, you know, what am I doing here to solve this problem, and how can I solve this problem? And we would have taken another god knows how many years to try and get to the scale that…”

When Helen co-founded Diversely.io, it was to solve her own frustrations as a female in a male-dominated industry. Her purpose was clear from the start – to help women and under-represented groups gain fair opportunities. This purpose-driven business model contributes well to her current successes and future aspirations.

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Today’s Guest

Helen McGuire

Founded the first women’s careers platform in the Middle East and Asia—Hopscotch.work—in  2015, Helen has won numerous industry awards for her work and led part of UN Women’s efforts to increase gender representation in the UAE. 


To scale the impact of her mission beyond gender, Helen joined the tech start-up accelerator Antler in January 2020 with a vision to conquer the issues around DEI in the workplace through the use of technology.  Diversely.io was that solution; a multi-awarded global AI-driven platform built alongside her co-founder,  Hayley Bakker, and with the support of industry investors over four years. One of the world’s leading software companies, The Access Group, acquired the platform for an undisclosed amount in 2023 and continues to be integrated across its portfolio. 

As host of The D&Igest podcast, Helen now utilises her formidable communications skills to give those who are making a difference in the global DEI space a voice. Professionally, she focuses on ensuring DEI is at the forefront of business strategy and coaches female founders on holistic business strategy. Her first book – ‘The Female Scale’ – is due in 2024, and she speaks and advises globally on the topic of DEI and creating purposeful businesses. 

A communications professional of twenty years, Helen began her career in London, achieving her dream  role at BBC Radio 1 in her early twenties, going on to produce, DJ and present for the music industry in over

About the Host

Mark Whitby

Mark Whitby is one of the world’s leading coaches for the recruitment industry. Since 2001, he has trained over 10,000 recruiters in 34 countries. Mark has helped recruiters to double or triple their billings and owners to increase their team’s sales by 67% in 90 days.

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