DEIB Assessment drives improvement in employee experiences of equity at EdTech start-up



+19% "The performance review process was fair and objective."

+11% "The promotions process is fair."

+8% "My total compensation is fair."

The Background

VP of People Operations, Nichole Pitzen, joined Springboard in the fall of 2020 and upon her arrival, she was met with a few stark realities. COVID-19 and subsequent work from home measures resulted in employees feeling isolated and disconnected from each other. As a new VP of People for a global office, Nichole’s chief concern was figuring out how to help all employees feel heard, valued and supported. This is a daunting task under the best conditions, but now it was more challenging than ever. Additionally, Springboard’s People Team was becoming more aware of the disparities in employee experiences across multiple measures, specifically compensation and performance management:

  • 49% of Springboard employees weren’t confident that their total compensation was fair

  • 34% of employees at Springboard were not confident that the performance review process was fair and objective

  • And 39% of employees were not confident that Springboard’s promotions process was fair.

Nichole was determined to dramatically improve the employee experience and knew that in order to do that, she would need to examine Springboard’s HR processes through a comprehensive DEIB lens, so she reached out to Peoplism to partner on a DEIB assessment & roadmap.

The Challenge

How can a growth stage startup with multiple high stakes priorities dial-in on the highest impact levers to quickly and meaningfully improve the employee experience? How can leaders preserve and honor their company’s unique global culture during a time of unprecedented disconnection, stress and uncertainty?

Working with Peoplism

At the start of January 2021, we conducted our 360 DEIB Assessment, which included interviews with fifteen randomly selected employees and two VPs on the leadership team. Additionally, we administered a DEIB survey and hosted three Open Houses for the SF office, India office, and people managers, followed by a documentation analysis of all existing People processes and policies. We then presented the findings to the Leadership Team and the People team, and held monthly meetings with Nichole and their new head of DEIB, Ijeoma Mba, to establish quarterly goals and build a two year roadmap.

"Peoplism has been a fantastic partner on our DEIB journey. We chose to start with the 360 Assessment and I'm so glad we did. The Peoplism team were very thoughtful and thorough when reviewing everything from our company values to our job descriptions and brought together quantitative and qualitative data to deliver insights and illuminate many blind spots that I and our exec team had about our teammate experience. One aspect of their approach that stands out is that all of Peoplism's work is informed by the combination of science and an understanding of human behavior. This means that not only are the team's recommendations educational, but they're also actionable. I've put many into practice already, but also have a 5 year roadmap. Finally, I'm grateful for the Peoplism team as human partners. When I'm stuck thinking about next steps our lead consultant always offers to jump on the phone and talk me through it and I leave each conversation with increased clarity and conviction about our path forward. Overall I highly recommend working with the Peoplism team.

Nichole Pitzen VP of People, Springboard

The Results

Springboard has seen remarkable results in the last few months, in particular, with their equity measures. The People team honed in on performance management as a main focus and were quickly able to implement many of our action-oriented recommendations to make their processes more equitable. They were able to see changes in their employees’ experiences around equity. Now:

  • 85% of employees agree the performance review process at Springboard is fair and objective (compared to 66% previously).

  • 72% of employees agree the promotions process at Springboard is fair and objective (compared to 61% previously).

And while the People Team is excited about their initial results, Nichole and her team aren’t stopping there. They are committed to driving meaningful changes across the organization in the other DEIB sectors. Based on our comprehensive DEIB roadmap, in the next two years they are working to:

  • Prioritize Black and Latinx hires in order to ensure Springboard can reflect and address the needs of all students.

  • Build a culture of work-life balance to retain and attract current and future employees.

  • Focus on issues of belonging and connection, and improve psychological safety.

Springboard is determined to make a difference, not only for their employees, but for their students. They know that great work and great ideas stem from great individuals and they are working hard to create a more equitable, diverse and psychologically safe space for everyone to innovate, mentor and inspire.

We can’t wait to see how they evolve and couldn’t be more excited to be in partnership with such a thoughtful organization!

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