Achieving Equity: Enroot Education’s Compensation Evolution
Organizations in the nonprofit sector provide so much support to their communities, but they often fall short when it comes to applying operation funds to staff attraction and retention. Nonprofits of today are challenged to not only adapt to changing economic situations but also address potential inequities within their structure.
Enroot Education, based in Cambridge and Somerville, MA, serves a vital mission: empowering low-income immigrant youth to achieve academic, career, and personal success through inspiring out-of-school experiences. To achieve this mission effectively, Enroot recognized the importance of fostering transparency and equity within its organization, particularly when it came to compensation and career advancement. Ultimately, after doing some research, they realized they needed the help of an external consultant who specialized in supporting organizations like theirs to achieve their goals. Enter the Edgility Consulting team. Our recent sit down with Executive Director, Rose Francois, highlights the transformative work our team carried out in partnership with Enroot Education.
Adjusting Internal Structures to Better Empower Staff
Enroot Education has a rich history within the Cambridge area. Originally established in 1938 as the Cambridge Community Federation, they rebranded in 1951 to Cambridge Community Services. This change empowered them to assess and address community needs, which eventually led to their current iteration: Enroot Education (launched in 2016). This rich history and their new chapter enable Enroot to pursue their mission to empower immigrant youth.
Their new direction signaled an opportunity to deepen their commitment to DEIB by creating a talent management system grounded in equity. However, two significant challenges stood in their path. Firstly, they needed to adapt to dynamic markets and ensure competitive staff salaries to remain effective. Additionally, transparency in compensation was vital to boost morale and create an equitable environment. Reflecting on this, Enroot Executive Director, Rose Francois shared,
“We [knew] that historically individuals who identify as women are less likely to have discussions about compensation, and minorities are less likely to have discussions about compensation. It was very important for us to [ask], what does it look like for a woman of color to have a discussion about compensation? Because we know a woman of color is less likely to get the pay that she deserves, we wanted to create a system that is based on equity. Regardless of what you look like or what your identity is, what is the consistent, criteria-based structure that we use to compensate someone and how can people be empowered to ask questions? We really wanted to make sure that we uplifted the standard for nonprofits.”
Armed with this distinct desire to create intentional equity they identified one more challenge to their process, garnering full understanding and support from the Board of Directors for the new compensation structure; a common challenge for nonprofits, but a crucial step in the process. While this introduced some delays in communicating updates to the staff, it ultimately aided in their work. Having difficult conversations with the board about things like compensation is common for nonprofits, but it doesn’t make the process any easier. Enroot and Edgility continued to reassure staff throughout the conversation that this endeavor remained a top organizational priority.
The team at Edgility believes wholeheartedly in taking a holistic approach to address the challenges that organizations face to achieve their goals. This philosophy was engaged again with Enroot. The process commenced with a Talent Equity Assessment and conversations with focus groups to provide a deep understanding of Enroot’s specific needs and priorities from their most important stakeholders, their staff.
“We can unintentionally create inequity by thinking of one individual versus the collective is one of the biggest takeaways. The support of the collective was one of the most important steps.” – Rose Francois, Enroot Education
To ensure their solution was well-informed, Edgility conducted benchmarking analyses to meticulously tailor a compensation structure that would align with Enroot’s core values and commitment to equity. Throughout the process, ongoing communication with Enroot’s leadership team was maintained, ensuring a shared understanding of the results and recommendations.
Collaboration with the Board of Directors was crucial to ensure that the new structure aligned with fiduciary obligations. In the final stages, Edgility co-presented the new structure to the staff, providing a transparent and clear explanation of the criteria governing their compensation.
“This is hard work. It requires the input of staff [to lend] their voice and [believe] that they have been heard. I appreciated that Edgility made sure that they were heard.” – Rose Francois, Enroot Education
Creating Tangible Change + Moving Forward
The engagement with Edgility empowered Enroot staff, providing them with the knowledge and tools to navigate compensation discussions transparently. The implementation of the new structure marked a significant step toward equity and morale improvement within the organization. In her reflection, Rose shared that,
“We want to continue with honest, bold, transparent conversations. I want these conversations to become more ingrained so that if someone went somewhere else it would be strange if someone wasn’t as transparent about compensation.”
As Enroot Education moves forward, they remain dedicated to maintaining a comprehensive compensation structure and fostering transparent career pathways. Recognizing that their journey towards empowerment is ongoing, they eagerly anticipate continued collaboration with Edgility on various projects. Enroot’s partnership with the team at Edgility not only resolved their immediate challenges but also established a firm foundation for transparency, equity, and empowerment within their organization. As they persist in their mission to empower immigrant youth, they do so with an inclusive and equitable framework that supports their staff, enhances morale, and paves the way for a brighter future for all those they serve.
Meet the Experts
“It was in college that I learned about America’s inequitable educational systems. Why do some children attend schools and benefit from systems that maximize their potential, and others get left behind? As a result, I have spent my career focused on changing that reality.”
Sr. Talent Equity Consultant
“Being a bi-racial female has shown me firsthand the systemic inequities that challenge many of our communities. I want to not only provide my clients a space to be heard and acknowledged but also the tools and data to drive meaningful solutions.”
Nina and Marissa can help your organization build or revise your talent management or compensation program through:
- Performance Management & Career Pathways
- Organizational Structure
- Compensation Studies
- 1:1 Coaching for Leaders (Nina)