What DE&I means to Pathrise

Kevin Wu
7 min readNov 17, 2020


The Pathrise team has been growing quickly. We’ve doubled the size of our team over the course of the past year and have learned a lot about what diversity, equity and inclusion mean to us as a company. We want DE&I to be at the forefront of how we grow and scale not only now but also in the future, so I’m writing this blog post to share some of our learnings and also think out loud about the commitments we are making to ourselves and our fellows.

When we started Pathrise in 2017, we wanted to build a business that was not only well loved and impactful, but also one that specifically aimed to solve the systemic challenges faced by many diverse groups in tech recruitment. The manifesto we wrote when founding the company outlines this (10 principles in total). One principle in particular has been a guiding principle for Pathrise and continues to shape how we build our company today:

“Everyone should have a chance, no matter which school they attended, what area they’re from or how much money they have.”

The diversity of backgrounds among our fellows as well as the diversity of the team that supports them is at the heart of Pathrise.

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What we mean by diversity, equity and inclusion

DE&I is a nuanced topic, one that can take on very different meanings, so it’s helpful to define what it means to us. A core tenant of Pathrise’s mission is to improve equity of career opportunity for a diverse group of job seekers. We’ve built a system to provide access to the knowledge, network and mentorship necessary to succeed in your career for those who need it the most.

Diverse groups of job seekers are our core users.

Diversity is meaningful to us because the fellows that benefit the most from Pathrise naturally come from a diverse set of backgrounds. Because we have built a program to provide career guidance and insider knowledge about the job search to those who need it the most, we must make sure to build a program that is designed for many different types of job seekers, such as underrepresented minorities in tech, international students and workforce returners.

Equity of career guidance is a core tenant of our mission.

Equity is what we provide. Job seekers can face many disadvantages in their job search due to a range of factors from bias to lacking a support system. You don’t learn insider information on company interview processes, cold emailing, or how to negotiate from a standard classroom curriculum. Usually these are things you pick up from the people around you, and not everyone is lucky or privileged enough to have that support network and peer group to pick it up from. Pathrise is a real solution that provides a sustainable and scalable way to provide this type of career guidance and mentorship to level out the playing field.

Inclusive design is a big part of our core methodology.

Inclusion is the essence of our core methodology. When you build a program like Pathrise, enroll such a diverse group of job seekers and work with them on a process as hard and stressful as the job search, it’s not an easy problem. Rather than rely on a cookie cutter curriculum, we focus on personalization, figuring out what works for each fellow and accounting for their diverse backgrounds. Instead of assuming what works for one fellow will just automatically work for the other, we use 1-on-1’s, personal support and create community in order to deliver more inclusive, and therefore more effective, career guidance.

Some context

I wanted to share a little more about the history of our DEI initiative. It was in the spring of 2020 when we decided to formalize what that should look like at Pathrise. From my perspective, I had initially felt that Pathrise upheld these values and they were embedded in not only our mission driven work-culture but also in how I lead our team. It wasn’t until we did a deep dive into our own diversity data that I realized just how much opportunity there was to enhance our diversity at Pathrise.

There were many things for us to work on. Here are just a few examples:

We had room to improve representation of Latinx and black employees at Pathrise. There were some other interesting features of lack of representation as well. For example, our career mentor team was almost entirely women, and we wanted to increase our male representation within that department.

Representation of gender and ethnicity among fellows at Pathrise could have been improved as well. While we were ahead of big tech, that’s an unfortunately low bar.

Even when only considering fellows that did choose to participate in Pathrise, we could improve retention. For example, fellows who were women withdrew from Pathrise at higher rates than men.

Transparency is important

At Pathrise one of our cultural values is “Be a founder.” A big part of enabling our team to be founders in their own ways is to give them founder-level access to information. As a result, we have always strived to be transparent with the employees at Pathrise, whether that be with our exact financials or product roadmap. I want everyone to feel as though they are an owner of Pathrise and that their work should and does matter. We took this same approach to diversity and prepared some data points for the team to view and we kept them up to date on our progress and things they could do to help make Pathrise a more inclusive workplace. This also held us accountable to improvement.

What did we do to foster more diversity?

Firstly, even just the action of making DE&I a priority led us to more intentionality and improvement.

We took time to question our own assumptions and speak with external experts.

Secondly, we wanted to increase representation at the top of the funnel.

Both in our hiring processes and in our customer acquisition channels, this meant forming partnerships with organizations that served the communities we’d like to engage with, creating scholarships or special events for each demographic of fellow or potential team members, and changing our sourcing queries.

Thirdly, we used consistent rubrics to eliminate unconscious bias in evaluation.

To us, creating a fair and equitable hiring process and admissions process that would help eliminate (as much as possible) our unconscious biases meant much more clearly defining and outlining concrete rubrics for determining qualifications, rather than relying on intuition.

Lastly, we revamped our group of interviewers.

Interviewers that took part in our hiring committee or admissions process were selected not only considering seniority and direct role relevance, but also diversity of perspective and background.

What were the results?

Over the course of the last few months with the help from everyone on the team, we were able to make some significant improvements. It was a really good time to explore and define what we meant by diversity and by instilling those pillars throughout the hiring process and within our team we were able to make some great achievements. We were able to increase representation for underrepresented minorities in the team by 20%. We improved gender representation in the career team by 100%. For our fellows, we were able to launch a scholarship system for underrepresented minorities in tech, women in tech and LGBTQ+ in tech, and have already granted a few scholarships. There is still a lot to improve on in the future.

Other notable results

Our team became fully remote, allowing us to hire individuals not only residing in the Bay Area but anywhere in the US. We believe this is an important factor for diversity because not all candidates have access to jobs in tech and therefore by opening up our hiring to more diverse locations we now have individuals from over 15 states represented at Pathrise!

Some members of the Pathrise team enjoying remote work.

Where we want to go

For the future of Pathrise, there is much to attain when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion not only for us as an internal team but also what that means for our fellows who are job searching during these interesting and uncertain times. But we know once we start to reflect diversity “on the inside” diversity on the “outside” will follow.

Some topics and agenda items we have for next year are based around sourcing, hiring, retention and promotion. As we continue to grow we want to focus not only on increasing diversity but nurturing it and facilitating it through active dialogue and open communication.

With that being said, I am very proud of our team’s achievements this year and I can not wait to sit here at the end of the next and tell you all the amazing things our team has accomplished not only for Pathrise but for all our amazing fellows whose lives our team impact on a daily basis.

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