An Important Update from the DataCamp Board of Directors
Update effective October 16, 2019: DataCamp commissioned an independent, third-party review of the events of October 2017, led by Anurima Bhargava, a former Department of Justice official in the Obama administration, and Pamela Coukos from Working IDEAL. Their report also examines the company’s response in the months that followed, and the overall climate and culture at the company. You can read the report in its entirety here. Key findings from the report are also summarized on the DataCamp blog here.
Update on April 30, 2019: Jonathan Cornelissen will be stepping down as the chairperson of DataCamp’s Board of Directors, in addition to stepping down from his role as CEO of DataCamp for an indefinite leave of absence without pay, effective May 1, 2019. Mr. Cornelissen will also be recused from the independent third party review described below and any decisions relating to his future role at DataCamp.
To Our Community
As the DataCamp Board of Directors, we want to assure our community we are taking the incident from October 2017, involving our CEO Jonathan Cornelissen and a former employee, along with the company’s response to the incident, very seriously. Our public response and this first official statement from the Board regarding this incident is long overdue. We are sorry for this delay. Given our fiduciary duty to all DataCamp stakeholders and employees, we have been working hard to assess the facts of the incident and subsequent response to set a measured, thoughtful course forward for the company. We have learned a lot from the community over the last several weeks and recognize that the company hasn’t listened nearly enough to you over the last 18 months. We know we have significant work to do to regain your trust and are absolutely committed to making continued progress on fostering a culture and environment that reflects the values of our community as a whole. To begin, we are taking the following steps:
CEO Accountability: Jonathan Cornelissen will be stepping down from his role as CEO of DataCamp for an indefinite leave of absence without pay effective May 1, 2019. His return to the company in any capacity will be based on the findings of the independent third party review (see below) and the recommendations of the Instructor Advisory Board (see below), in conjunction with the Board of Directors. The Board is still working through plans for interim leadership.
Instructor Advisory Board: Instructors are the lifeblood of DataCamp and, as such, the company will establish an Instructor Advisory Board comprised of active and diverse members of the community. In the near term, the Instructor Advisory Board will assist in the oversight of the third party review process (see below). The Instructor Advisory Board will, over the long term, better hear and integrate the concerns and recommendations raised by the instructor community, and help hold the company and leadership team accountable to that input.
Independent Third Party Review: The Board will be engaging Anurima Bhargava, a long-time civil rights attorney and former Justice Department official with specific expertise on sexual harassment and climate assessments, to conduct a full review of the company's environment and culture. The comprehensive review will examine the October 2017 incident and the company's response, as well as account for previous and any ongoing concerns raised by current and former DataCamp employees and the community. The review will include recommendations for the company to prevent and appropriately address any future incidents, and build an inclusive and diverse culture reflecting the best attributes and strengths of the community. Ms. Bhargava will begin the review as soon as the Instructor Advisory Board is in place, and will present the review and recommendations to the Instructor Advisory Board, as well as DataCamp leadership and the Board.
The review and recommendations are an important next step in the company's efforts to foster and promote a healthy and safe work environment for everyone. This will build on the steps taken by the company over the past 18 months, which included: mandatory training on Respect in the Workplace and Unconscious Bias and Behaviors of Inclusion for the entire DataCamp team; hiring a Chief People Officer and other experienced managers; implementing transparent measurement and reporting on employee culture and engagement (recent results are discussed in our 2018 Year in Review here); revised company policies including our Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) & Anti-Harassment Policy; and implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives for all employees to have equal opportunities and representation at DataCamp. We recognize that while these steps provide a meaningful and collective start towards improving and professionalizing the culture and environment at DataCamp, it is an ongoing process and one that we are deeply committed to.
In the Interest of Clarity
It has been asserted over the last several weeks that the company terminated two individuals for voicing concerns over this incident. This assertion is false. DataCamp does not tolerate retaliation against anyone for raising concerns. Indeed, one of the two individuals who was terminated has recently acknowledged publicly that his termination was for performance. As standard practice, DataCamp offered these departing individuals separation packages that contained non-disparagement provisions which specifically and expressly would have permitted them to raise concerns about the company. Additionally, some have alleged that the company covered up what happened the night of the incident. This is not true. We fully acknowledge the company could have handled its discussions about this incident better, including providing more external transparency with our community sooner. We will do better in this regard. But any assertion of an internal cover-up or an intentional obfuscation of the facts about this matter is fundamentally incorrect.
We are fully committed to regaining your trust as a community and understand the process starts with increased transparency and honesty from all parties. We are sorry for our mistakes and will do everything we can to re-establish DataCamp’s standing and reputation in the data science community and make each of you proud to be associated (again) with our platform. Our collective mission remains noble — to increase data fluency around the world. We sincerely apologize for all of our missteps and hope that you allow DataCamp the opportunity to support this amazing community in achieving this goal.