Doubling Down on Culture and Values: Flatiron School’s Response to the BLM Movement

Pooja Agarwal, Chief Operating Officer at Flatiron School

Flatiron School is a Manhattan-based global institution that teaches students in-demand tech skills such as software engineering, data science, cybersecurity, and product design. Since their founding in 2012, the leadership at the Flatiron School has been committed to fostering an internal and external culture focused on equity, access, and inclusion¹. Externally, they have launched several fellowships and scholarship programs to diversify their pipeline of students. Internally, diversity and a focus on fostering an inclusive company culture have always been a pillar of their operations.

Given the critical attention and focus that was already given to fostering a diverse and inclusive culture — Flatiron School would have those values and culture tested when the BLM protesting began after the tragic murder of George Floyd.

Strengthening Core Values

In our conversations with Pooja Agarwal, the Chief Operating Officer at the Flatiron School, she highlighted the need to drive with culture and core values to not only guide decision-making and drive results; but also help navigate leadership and staff through moments of crisis.

Immediate Response

Despite having a preexisting culture that created space for diverse perspectives and ideas, after the George Floyd protests broke out, the leadership team at Flatiron School still felt like their initial responses were still mostly reactive.

Following the BLM protest, Flatiron School carried out the following:

Long term response

For the Flatiron School, the protests of 2020 provided awareness and an opportunity for them to reevaluate what more they could be doing to deepen and operationalize the values that were already at the heart of the institution. Given their immediate responses and the feedback from staff and students, they knew that they would have to embark on a longer goal of integrating these values into every aspect of their institutions. In the long term they committed to:

At the end of the day, Pooja mentioned that for the Flatiron School this is a journey. Even as the George Floyd protests have subsided, staff and leadership are committing to continue exploring how to bake these values into their entity on a continuous basis.

  2. Disclaimer: Lyel Resner, who helped launch SSI, was affiliated with Flatiron School from 2014–2016. He no longer holds any formal or financial relationship with the Flatiron School.

Accelerating the adoption of responsible company-building practices in tech