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Employee Engagement: The SendGrid Way

Below is an article originally written by Ealga ni Aodha, the Organizational Development Specialist at PowerToFly Partner SendGrid, and published on March 2, 2017. Go to SendGrid's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.

If you frequent our blog posts focused on our company, you've probably stumbled across posts on customer engagement and tips and tricks on how you can improve this through your email communications. However, at SendGrid, we are also obsessed with another type of engagement–the engagement of each and everyone one of our employees, affectionately called, "Gridders."

We've been measuring and improving on our employee engagement strategy since 2014–each time iterating on our process to derive more positive impact for our employees. Our last engagement check-in revealed an 11% point increase in engagement in 6 months, outperforming our goal and placing us on par with the top 10% of companies in Culture Amp's New Tech Benchmark. We are proud of the progress we've made, but more so, because we achieved it by staying true to our cultural values.


We define our culture by our 4Hs: Happy, Hungry, Humble and Honest. Honest means that as a company, we value transparency and welcome feedback freely. Staying true to this value, we have a thorough process of gathering employee feedback in a consistent way through surveys, focus groups, and team engagement reviews. This ensures that we have accurate data on how we are doing culturally and that our employees have an avenue to collectively share feedback with their leadership team.

Once we close out the survey, all employees get full access to our quantitative data, with the ability to view company scores, team scores, and assess variances over time. This level of transparency arms our employees with the results so that they can drive improvements within their teams.


Our Hungry kicks in when we seek solutions. We define Hungry as always looking for ways to innovate, improve, and raise the bar to deliver results. To ensure we stay focused on what drives long-term organizational success, and that we're constantly innovating and improving in those areas, we identified 4 enduring measures of success and one of them is employee engagement. This has allowed us to bring focus and dedicate sufficient resources to addressing issues that have surfaced through our feedback process.

Emphasizing employee engagement as part of organizational success clearly communicates that we prioritize improving our employee engagement, recognizing that by increasing the engagement of our Gridders. They will be better equipped to support our customers and deliver great results on their behalf.

In addition to reviewing the survey results in detail, we also prioritize sitting down with employees to listen, learn, and leverage their influence to make sure we turn feedback into action. From there, we set specific goals surrounding improvement in areas that we feel have a direct impact on engagement and report progress on a regular cadence.

If survey results on a particular question that we know impacts engagement is low, we will set a goal to improve that score by a specific percentage, share that goal broadly across the organization, and report results of our actions. Surveying is important, but what's even more critical is acting on the survey results and doing it in ways that are transparent to all. This dedication to solving problems AND leveraging our strengths is what builds a strong culture and a healthy, growing company.


At SendGrid, we describe Humble as always learning from each other and that we focus on the we, not I. As part of our engagement survey, our leaders and managers get rated by their team on their effectiveness. If they have not been performing well against our manager expectations, their ratings will reflect this.

Managers must then host reviews with their team to get direct feedback on what they could do to improve. This includes written action planning and follow-up with the team at regular intervals on progress. Although this can be a humbling process, it shows our Gridders that we care, that we're committed to improving, and that we will stay true to our philosophy on servant leadership. We send a clear message that if our leaders are not supporting their team, they must take action to address any deficiencies and we expect upward movement on their management scores with the next survey.


Our Happy H is demonstrated in many ways. We define Happy as bringing a positive, constructive attitude to everything we do, finding joy in our work, and having a good time. Although we recognize that happiness and engagement are different, engaged employees are without a doubt going to find more joy in their work as they recognize the positive impact their contributions are having on our business and on their careers.

Our leadership team practicing their servant leadership and serving ice cream as a way of saying thank you for the 98% participation in our last engagement survey.

As a team, we all feel happier and are more energized by seeing the progress we can make in areas that impact engagement when we focus our efforts and work together to solve a problem. We also see the direct impact on our overall company performance which encourages us to continue to do that type of focused, hard work. It drives results which energizes us all to continue to go the extra mile to solve problems and achieve our goals. We also believe that our customers are happier because we are happier–and that makes us smile!

Our work on engagement aligns with our 4Hs and focuses on building an amazing culture where each Gridder can thrive and do their best work. We know this drives retention, improved customer satisfaction, and in general makes us a truly great place to work. We know we're not perfect and continue to work on specific areas that we know are pain points for our Gridders. The good news is that we can continue to improve and in the process, will make SendGrid a stronger, better company for all.

Finally, we're hiring and always looking for our next great Gridders! Check out our PowerToFly page to learn more about our culture and view open positions.


Our People, Our Story: Diversity and Inclusion at SendGrid

Below is an article originally written by Pattie Money, the Chief People Officer at PowerToFly Partner SendGrid, and published on April 30, 2018. Go to SendGrid's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.

At SendGrid, we have committed to making progress on improving diversity and inclusion to ensure that we're a great place to work for all. Every SendGrid employee ("Gridder") needs to be able to do their best work, but that can only happen in an environment where everyone feels valued for their authentic selves and the work they do.

We can't innovate at the velocity our customers demand if we don't have a workforce that mirrors our customer base and deeply understands each customer segment. We need diversity in every form of the word including ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, skin color, thought, parental status, mental health, geography, background, etc. Not only is caring about diversity and inclusion the right thing to do, it's a business imperative.

We've released our diversity numbers for the past four years along with many other tech companies who are shining a light on this important topic. We believe that what gets measured and reported gets attention. Therefore, we annually measure and report our progress. We're committed to sharing our journey, both our success and where we have fallen short, so that others can learn from our experiences.

A look at the numbers

In 2017, we hired over 128 new employees and the efforts to source qualified, underrepresented (non-Caucasian male) professionals were significant. We have been particularly successful in improving our female representation at The Grid.

We recognize that diversity is much bigger than gender, however, given that gender disparity impacts over 50% of our nation's population, it intersects with all other diversity factors and is a major lever in improving diversity at The Grid:

  • Organizationally, our female representation improved from 25% back in 2015 to 35% in 2017.
  • Women in technical roles increased from 12% in 2015 to 23% in 2017. This is one area where we've made steady improvements year-over-year. Although we're happy about our progress, we're still not satisfied with these numbers and believe all of our teams will be stronger with more female representation.
  • Women in management roles fell from 33% in 2015 to 29% in 2017. This was due to our growth in our management team, without as many of our new hires being female. We'll continue to focus our recruiting sourcing for future leadership hires to ensure our pipeline includes a strong, diverse candidate slate.
  • Senior leadership, defined as those in VP roles and above, improved drastically. At the end of 2015, we had 0% female representation at that level, whereas this year, our senior leadership team is made up of 28% females.
  • Our Board of Directors has grown with the addition of two amazing women; Anne Raimondi and Hilary Schneider. Having women in senior roles and having female board representation sends a strong message to our female Gridders and to other women who may think about joining SendGrid.

*These figures represent end of year numbers for each year

Progress on our racial diversity figures have improved, but not at the same rate:

  • Today, SendGrid is 74% white Caucasian, down from 81.3% in 2015, and 26% of Gridders are races other than white/Caucasian.
  • Our Hispanic or Latino workforce, grew from 4% in 2015 to 5.7% in 2017. Those identifying as two or more races increased from 1.5% in 2015 to 4.5% to 2017.
  • Our percentage of black or African American Gridders improved from 1.1% in 2015 to 1.9% of our workforce.

A culture of inclusion

This is where we start. If our current Gridders don't feel included due to their differences, we won't be effective in retaining diverse talent which means that attracting diverse talent will be even more difficult. Although this has always been a focus for us, this is the first year we've built a program around our commitment to building a more inclusive culture where everyone feels like they belong.

Expanding our definition of diversity has been critical and has led to changes in our benefit plans. One of our core values is Happy, and we know that you cannot be happy at work if your benefit plans exclude specific coverages that are needed based on your differences and the different needs of your loved ones. With that in mind, we've made the following changes to our benefits offerings:

  • We began offering domestic partner benefits since families come in many forms.
  • We added infertility coverage, recognizing that the pain that comes from infertility is only exacerbated by the financial strain it adds when this isn't part of your health insurance coverage.
  • We added autism benefits to our medical coverage after realizing the gap in coverage and the impact to those who are working with children or who themselves fall in the spectrum who don't have the coverage they need.

Feelings of belonging and inclusion can be difficult to measure and quantify. However, through our annual inclusion survey through Culture Amp, we're gathering data and insights on the different way we experience life at The Grid. These stories give depth and meaning to how it can feel to be "different" from the majority and has led us to take specific actions.

Thanks to feedback from our Gridders, we've identified three key themes from the survey which we are committed to improving for the year:

  • Creating a safe place for diverse thoughts and ensuring candid conversations are happening throughout the organization. Formalized training is planned to create awareness and provide us with the skills needed to have honest, candid conversations—even on difficult topics. Helping people be able to share their stories and be their authentic selves comes from being able to communicate effectively with each other–and we're committed to improving in this area.
  • Improving the experience of underrepresented professionals at SendGrid. We held our first Diversity Week to bring awareness to the importance of diversity and inclusion to our organizational success. There were opportunities for learning about each other in a new and different way and we'll continue this journey with future events to educate, inform, and grow together. We've kicked off our first Employee Resource Groups to build community and connection among our underrepresented professionals at The Grid.
  • Connections are critical for inclusion. We're building connections in many ways including the development of special interest groups. These create opportunities to develop real friendships and give all Gridders an opportunity to find a group that feels fun and inclusive. We also have monthly Fireside Chats that spotlight different Gridders and their life stories. We believe that the first step towards inclusion is understanding someone's story which provides the human element that is part of each of our life experiences.

Recruiting and development

We've invested in improving our recruitment and development practice to increase our underrepresented population and also to ensure our internal practices are fair.

Our recruiting team dedicated over 300 hours to sourcing underrepresented professionals around the country, improving the diversity of our candidate slates. We also continuously work to ensure that our job descriptions are inclusive and welcoming to all candidates. To ensure our hiring and selection criteria leads to hiring the very best candidate for the job, we've redesigned our talent acquisition training with a focus on unconscious bias. Only by recognizing and bringing awareness to our unintentional biases can we have an impact on our goal of being a diverse and inclusive workforce.

We're also invested in ensuring fair and transparent practices internally through our partnership with Pipeline Equity. The platform, which is still in beta, measures gender equity on a number of dimensions including promotion rates, resource allocation and provides insights into how we can address in real time. We are committed to actioning where gaps are identified.

In addition to this partnership, we will continue to partner with National Center for Women In Technology (NCWIT) as a member of the Pacesetters group and Entrepreneurial Alliance.


We've made progress and we continue to look in the mirror and ask ourselves what we can do better. Creating a workplace that employs diverse talent is only part of the equation and so we're excited to share what we are doing to build a culture where everyone feels like they belong and can be their authentic selves at work.

We realize that creating a truly diverse and inclusive workplace is a journey and requires commitment from each of us if we are to continue to make progress in a meaningful way. It's a journey that requires the inclusion of all–from those in underrepresented groups to those in the majority because it's together that we actually create a 4H4ALL (Happy, Humble, Hungry and Honest) culture.

It also takes a commitment from our industry to work together, to share ideas, and to learn from each other. The tech industry needs to change significantly if we are going to be an industry that ensures that anyone can achieve their full potential.

We're committed to sharing with our industry partners, to being transparent in our lessons learned, and to being part of the solution so desperately needed in our industry and in our world. Technology has changed our world in so many ways and now it's our time be the driver for change to ensure that our workforces are places where all individuals can truly grow and thrive.