Biotech & Health

Disclo aims to inspire inclusive workplaces — starting with disability accommodations


Paper cut out design of an open mind of creativity
Image Credits: Kieran Stone (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Disclo CEO and co-founder Hannah Olson was diagnosed with Lyme disease when she was in college. At the time, she didn’t really see herself as someone with a disability, even though it meant spending hours each day hooked up to an IV.

When she entered the workforce, she soon was confronted with the difficulties of navigating, disclosing and asking for support around her condition. “I had no clue about this process, but I saw firsthand just how uncomfortable it was.” That lack of knowledge is what would kickstart her entire entrepreneurial journey — from spending time as a disability employment advisor, to building her first company, Chronically Capable, with a former boss, Kai Keane.

Chronically Capable helps people with disabilities and chronic illnesses find flexible jobs, and now, after scaling it for nearly five years, the founding duo has built another company that takes an earlier step in a similar world. Disclo, an Atlanta-based startup, is building software that helps employees ask for accommodation requests at work, and it empowers employers to collect, verify, and manage health disclosures and employee accommodation requests in a HIPAA- and SOC 2–compliant way.

Image Credits: Disclo

Investors think it is addressing a real need in the market, with General Catalyst leading a $5 million seed round in Disclo, joined by Y Combinator, Bain Capital Ventures and Lerer Hippeau. With $6.5 million in known funding altogether so far, Disclo has also tucked Chronically Capable underneath its umbrella given the synergies between the two. While Chronically Capable is all about recruiting talent with diverse needs, Disclo helps startups ensure they have a proper accommodations process in place first to support their hiring.

It’s not a matter of startups being thoughtful, says Keane, who is the chief product officer (Olson is CEO). It’s about following established regulations.

“We don’t think about this as going the extra mile — it’s a compliance issue,” he says. “You are following the law, and a lot of companies right now don’t know how to or they just aren’t,” he says.

At the same time, Disclo hopes its mere existence raises awareness about these regulations, for the benefit of everyone involved. “There’s some stigma and hush-hush about asking for things at work, and [employers] don’t advertise how to ask for accommodations at work.” Disclo’s job, from Keane’s perspective, is to help employees understand what their rights are and to protect the employer by documenting and standardizing an often unstructured conversation.

Adoption is particularly important in times such as these, argues Olson, who notes that based on data from the last recession, tech outfits are more likely to see employees sue more often and for higher amounts because they are more motivated financially to do so.

Even if the economy recovers quickly, remote work has also created pressure around employers finding better tech to support a distributed team. Olson said that there has been a 61% increase in accommodation requests from employees — a stat that she thinks shows the need for employers to take disability requests more seriously.

A key aspect of Disclo’s software is that it anonymizes what an employee’s disability is, instead telling the employer that the individual has filed a disability notice and could use the following accommodations to feel more supported at work. This could help given that not all disabilities are visible, and not every person with a disability feels comfortable declaring that they have one.

Olson’s personal experience underscored how it was both hard to navigate the process of disclosing and find a company that “embraced” what she needed. Disclo doesn’t force startups to provide certain accommodations, but puts a framework in place for a company to be more aware and able to support their employees.

Speaking of the disorganization that rules many startups, one may ask why the large slew of HR tech startups haven’t sought to disrupt the disability accommodation side of operations. Some startups are forced to use sticky notes and box drives because restrictive laws don’t allow information to be stored inside of human resource platforms, Olson says, while large companies use disability insurance companies.

“A lot of companies think about accommodations from the perspective of insurance claims but accommodations encompass way more than things within the realm of insurance,” she said, such as rescheduling work, bringing in your pet or asking for closed-captioning tools. “These requests often require a conversation with a manager and we’re here to help facilitate.”

In that case, maybe tech is just late to the game. Steve O’Hear, a former TechCrunch reporter, wrote about tech companies’ lack of disability reporting in 2016.

“At its best, technology acts as an enabler for PWDs, helping to level the playing field, and therefore can be a genuine force for social mobility,” O’Hear wrote at the time. “However, since disability isn’t included in most technology companies’ public diversity reporting, what we don’t know is how well the technology industry itself is doing with regards to the number of PWDs it employs and how this compares company to company.” Noting the challenges with underreporting and a lack of general transparency around companies, he urged the tech industry to “find a way to be more accountable.”

Disclo is convinced it is the first software company working on this specific niche. Let’s see if tech is ready to be an early adopter.

More TechCrunch

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

3 hours ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

2 days ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

2 days ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?