I was glad to see the announcement from the DataCamp Board that, after a long period of silence and inaction, the company is taking seriously an incident of sexual misconduct and re-examining its approach to the issue and its relationship with concerned instructors. The CEO’s leave of absence and the engagement of Ms. Bhargava indicate a turn in the right direction. An investigation into the management missteps that have led to this point is necessary.
I have several questions regarding the steps that this announcement describes. I hope that any community member who may join the proposed Instructor Advisory Board should require answers to these questions and consider them carefully. We have other options for platforms for teaching, other priorities, and other work to do to extend inclusion and justice. If DataCamp wants us to participate in fixing the damage caused by this incident and its handling, it will have to show that engaging with the company presents the opportunity for substantive positive change.
Will the scope of the investigation extend to the actions and makeup of the board?
To the best of my knowledge (per pitchbook), the board consists of the three co-founders and one investor, all men. The board oversaw this failure of governance. Will the investigation include the board’s role in handling this matter, and if so, will there be a mechanism to change the board’s makeup if necessary?
Many companies have independent directors that provide necessary expertise and experience. Appointing a member to the full board that represents the educator community, and has experience in issues of inclusion, diversity, and community relations could help correct the gaps in oversight we have seen from the board.
Will Jonathan Cornelissen remain on the board?
If so, in what matters will he have voting or non-voting roles?
It is difficult to imagine a situation where he continues to play a significant role in governance and the board can rebuild trust with the community.
Will the scope of the investigation include the firing of employees and contractors over the past year?
The board’s statement says the investigation will “account for previous and any ongoing concerns raised by current and former DataCamp employees and the community.” However, in the same statement the board was was quick to dismiss the concerns of former employees and contractors “in the interest of clarity.” The board clearly mischaracterized the statements of one of those employees. Given other failures of leadership, this part of the board’s statement cannot be taken at face value. Will the investigation include examination of the claims of these employees, and the circumstances of their dismissal?
The poor treatment of former employees is one significant reason for loss of trust. Recompense for this treatment is a necessity.
Will the instructor oversight board be compensated for their time?
Many instructors, primarily women, spent considerable time and effort providing DataCamp advice about its actions, in private, for free, for the past year. They were mostly gaslit and ignored. Had their advice been heeded, much of the damage wrought by DataCamp’s decisions could have been avoided. What compensation will Advisory board members receive for continuing to advise DataCamp?
Compensation for the Instructor Advisory Board is not only fair, but it will indicate that DataCamp takes their role and input seriously.
I look forward to the implementation of the steps that DataCamp’s statement promises. Until we see the results of those steps, though, I will continue to direct learners towards other resources and discourage others from using or working with DataCamp. It is on DataCamp’s leadership to convince me otherwise through their actions. I believe that many others feel similarly.