Transforming Organizational Culture

Remote Sales Manager: Jasmine Cumberland

“Circles helps me build bonds and network with my colleagues, while showing my leadership capabilities. When JumpCrew needed a sales manager, I didn’t even apply–they came and offered me the job.”

In March 2021, Jasmine Cumberland started at JumpCrew as a fully-remote Sales Representative. To expand her relationships, she signed up for one of the organization’s “New Hire 101 Circles”–a facilitated group of 6-8 colleagues gathering regularly to connect and grow. The focus of the circles is to rally new hires on three leadership principles: vulnerability, remote leadership and preventing burnout. “It’s hard for a remote worker to create bonds beyond the few I’m directly working with–before circles, I felt like I didn’t know anyone else in the company. Now I can reach out to someone if I’m having an issue.”

Gone is the classic office culture many enjoyed pre-pandemic: the new world of hybrid work tends to isolate and disconnect employees. Jasmine misses the office camaraderie: “Previous in-person jobs felt like a work family. The first time I went into the JumpCrew office to visit, people from my circle ran up and hugged me just as emphatically as an in-office team would–which is such a testament to the relationships that are built in the Circles space.”

Jasmine became a team lead in June 2021. By November, she’d been tapped for a management position.

She attributes her fast-tracked promotions to Circles, which not only connected her with colleagues, but also served as a catalyst for her career path in the company. 

JumpCrew Founder: David Pachter

David Pachter never liked the idea of people working from home. The leader of JumpCrew–an outsourced marketing and sales firm out of Nashville–Pachter wanted employees in the office, “feeding off each others’ energy and held accountable for key performance indicators.” 

But in March 2020, the pandemic hit, forever altering the world and the way people work. JumpCrew initially lost clients and cash flow, but by the end of 2020, morale was high and they were hiring again. In his book Remote Leadership, Pachter attributes that resiliency in part to peer learning in circles. “By the time the world changed, we had already built a culture that prepared our leaders to spearhead that change in a way that was mindful, connected, vulnerable, and transparent.”

“Circles has been a vital part not only of the success of JumpCrew, but also of most of the leaders of the company”

Today, Circles aren’t mandatory for JumpCrew employees, but a compelling intro video from Pachter so highly endorses them that the majority of employees join. As Pachter shares in the promo video: “If you’re on time and participate in all your circles, the data suggests you’ll be much more likely to achieve more at JumpCrew than your peers who don’t. You’ll be more prepared to lead, and have gained the trust of peers who may be in a position to actually recognize you, to help you level up.”

Director of Learning & Development: Jarvis Henderson

“I’m a firm believer that true growth happens in the context of relationships. Circles help employees engage in a safe space, creating a sense of belonging.”

When Jarvis Hederson joined JumpCrew in 2022, the company already relied heavily on Circles for onboarding and career path systems. As Director of Learning & Development, he’s leading his team in relaunching and expanding circles. “We’re exploring ways to expand Circles and connect employees in new ways–through themes and affinity groups.”

Jarvis and Jasmine meet regularly to collaborate on enhancing JumpCrew’s thriving company culture. As Jasmine shared: “We already have a culture crew, which is essentially a committee that sets events like icebreakers, happy hours and talent shows–I’m excited to expand circles into Employee Resource Groups.”

At a time when organizational leaders are scrambling to retain talent and keep employees engaged, Jarvis is counting on Circles for both. “I personally feel like Circles is going to help with attrition numbers. People are going to feel comfortable and a part of the culture. It’s the feel-good side of what’s needed to create moments.”

Chief People Officer: Dan George

JumpCrew’s biggest people challenge matches those of the greater market: shrinking their 90-day turnover. When Dan George joined JumpCrew as Chief People Officer earlier this year, he immediately saw the value in the company’s seamlessly integrated Circles experiences. “Statistically, those participating in circles have a significantly longer tenure than those that don’t.” He sees a twofold purpose behind circles: continuing to build JumpCrew’s leadership bench while keeping employees connected.

“Having worked in human capital for years, it was easy for me to see the specialized nuance provides, enabling our teammates to connect, learn, reflect, and grow into high-performing people we need.”

Onsite Sales Manager: Amber Gold

“Circles opened my eyes to the fact that my colleagues are people first, and then professionals. I’ve worked in enterprise companies and in large school systems; until Circles, I hadn’t encountered space in a professional environment to share vulnerably.”

Transplanting cities to start a new job can be a lonely experience. That’s why when Amber Gold reported to the Nashville JumpCrew office, she said yes to every social invite–including joining a new hire circle. She wanted to meet as many new people as possible.Through circles, Amber discovered colleagues at various organizational levels experiencing many of the same challenges she was going through, normalizing her acclimation. ““It’s just nice to find a common group of people to share with, not to give advice. I always left my circle knowing I wasn’t the only one facing certain challenges.”

“When I think about the six people who were in my original circle at JumpCrew, four out of six of us are still here. And we met during the wild ride of the pandemic.” Amber Gold

She says circles gave her visibility into other departments, a space to share experiences and challenges, and access to peer mentors–something she didn’t even know to ask for. “The person who is now president was in a circle with me 3.5 years ago, so we’ve grown in our careers together. We were initially sorted into a circle together simply based on our calendar availability.” 

Today, Amber facilitates circles for new hires. “I want them to feel welcome and accepted like I did. People cry sometimes. They say they leave their circle feeling so much better and they look forward to work again. It’s like group therapy.” Circles allows employees to immediately express themselves, grow, and connect with people they wouldn’t normally connect with. “I get to watch the lightbulbs going on as they are able to not only look at the challenge from the seat they’re sitting in, but to think about the challenge the person above them is facing. How would you handle it if you were already in that next seat up?”

“I contribute a lot of my professional growth to Circles–I’m so thankful to have grown from a sales rep into a director, and from a participant into a facilitator.”

Connect & Grow Employees Across an Organization

Circles transforms every level of an organization. From Chief People Officers to brand new Sales Representatives–fully remote or at the home office–everyone experiences the value of connecting and growing employees in Circles.

How might Circles help you level up your organizational culture? Contact us for a free demo today!

“Circles fill a different need depending on the employee. What do you need and what space does circles fill within that need?”

 Jasmine Cumberland

Six Ways to Improve Employee Engagement

Just when it seemed the great resignation was in the rearview mirror, quiet quitting swooped in to dominate corporate headlines. Hybrid workspaces are here to stay and bring their own set of challenges, like employee loneliness and lack of connection. All this to say, talent retention and employee engagement remain top-of-mind for HR leaders, maybe more now than ever.

Many of us want to work remotely–but does the resulting distance prohibit thriving? Accordingly, leaders scramble for systems and structures to mitigate turnover and maintain employee connectivity.

Our own community of practice continues to innovate strategies to help employees connect and grow. Fresh from the field, here are six paths to actively fostering employee engagement:

  1. Connect Employees Before They’re Hired

One consulting company drives engagement even before hiring, grouping recruits into collaborative circles. Prospects join a customized experience of discussion-based workshops, involving open-ended problem solving guided by facilitators. Adding recruiting circles to their collaborative company culture helps employees develop relationships early–and on a global scale.

  1. Create Community Once They’re on Board

Every month, Weave: The Social Fabric Project at the Aspen Institute offers new and existing members an opportunity to sign up for a circle during onboarding. Weavers in circles report a sense of belonging in the community, and they’re more likely to reach out to others and engage in virtual discussions. Some circles continue meeting even after working through the initial onboarding agendas. Community Manager Frances Kraft shares: “When you have a good facilitator who sets the tone and the participants settle upon agreements together, people slow down and listen – not to respond, but to understand.”

  1. Fuel Employee Resource Group Breakouts

At the height of the pandemic, Glassdoor head of DEI Stephanie Felix promoted engagement through ERG breakout circles. “In a company that is majority culture, we wanted to create space for safe conversations regarding identity, culture, and belonging. Our aim was to provide intentional space for meaningful conversations around intersectionality.” At a time when employee connections had dwindled down to their immediate teams, organizing them into cross-department breakouts gave everyone the chance to interact with colleagues they wouldn’t normally interact with everyday. 

  1. Coaching in Cohorts

Jean-Pierre Taschereau connects Red Cross employees through coaching teams across Canada. He explains: “People shift gears when they come into team coaching. We’re creating space for a different kind of conversation.” His coaching conversations have less to do with any specific team or topic–it’s about how people talk to each other. The conversations are not on-the-fly and rapid like other work conversations–people have time to think and share. “It’s like working a different part of your core. You work a different muscle group, and then when you go back to your regular job, you can do it better because your other muscles are stronger.”

  1. Foster Professional Development through Peer Groups

Marketing company JumpCrew builds their leadership bench by offering employees career path circles. Employees gain cross-departmental connections, and many attribute their internal network & multiple promotions back to their circles. Of the 300 and counting Jumpcrew employees, half are local to Nashville while the other half work remotely. Circles keeps distributed teams connected while helping identify and develop leaders.

“I personally feel like the circles are going to help with attrition numbers. People are going to feel comfortable and a part of the culture.”

–Jarvis Henderson, Dir. of L&D, JumpCrew 

6. Drink Your Own Champagne

This last one is for HR leaders themselves–how can you connect and grow while caring for everyone else? Our partners at Executive Growth Alliance suggest peer circles.

The EGA community bridges the gap between individual executives facing common challenges. Membership provides connection into a worldwide network of leaders collaborating regularly in circles; executives from Merck, Adobe, IBM Nordic and more participate in EGA’s peer network. Shokofeh Khan–Director of Learning and Development at ACE Hardware–describes the peer circles as “an amazing experience. My learning was night-and-day greater than if I had just taken a set of seminars.”

Hosting Affinity Circles of our own

It’s thrilling to see all the ways our partners connect and grow their employees in circles. Inspired by peer connections provided by partners like EGA, we recently developed our own women in leadership circles–which garnered such positive feedback that we spun off other circles specific to DEI leaders, Learning & Development leaders and more. We now host multiple groups a week, connecting executives together in mutual support to navigate a rapidly evolving corporate landscape together.

Are you looking for a place to engage with HR peers? We have a circle for you! Please complete this form if you’re interested to join our one-off, free of charge Circles Community sessions.

What does diversity, equity and inclusion look like for a globally distributed team of 25 employees, currently serving a predominately U.S. customer base?

Our Journey

At Circles, our customers confirm: we augment company culture by designing inclusive spaces for people to connect and grow. Customers frequently describe our platform and programs as inclusive. Yet when we forged a recent partnership with Glassdoor, they asked to see our company DE&I statement–and we realized we had merely conceptualized one. We sat down to write it and recognized our approach was through a white U.S. lens, one that did not represent our globally complex team. Cognitive dissonance ensued.

Were we fostering inclusive communities for our customers without adequately serving each other?

This launched a culture journey for our entire company. Together, we began investigating our internal landscape, making space to intentionally lay the foundation for an inclusive company culture.

Culture Builders

Inspired by conversations with Glassdoor and DuPont, who are pioneers in the work of inclusion and belonging, we designed Culture Builders, a four-session program. Arriving at cultural competence wasn’t the goal; we simply made a commitment to connect and grow together, with the program as a starting point. 

Program objectives included building awareness and appreciation for DEI, discovering opportunities for personal growth, sharing learning and stories, and simply connecting as humans. Facilitated groups were sorted cross-culturally and functionally, and the four Culture Builders sessions covered:

  1. Inclusivity: What it means to each of us.
  2. Background: Discussing our cultures of origin.
  3. Privilege: Revealing power, privilege and marginalization. 
  4. Reflection: Sharing how the sessions enriched our connections.

Team Experience

To engage the Culture Builders sessions, team members set aside 75 minutes every other week over an eight-week span. Facilitated sessions consisted of prompts promoting storytelling and active listening, with the Circles platform features guiding the way (spotlight with timer, hand raises, random order generator and more).

Across the board, participants enjoyed connecting with one another and sharing stories…


One early discovery was that although we all value inclusion, the acronym “DEI” isn’t typically used outside of the U.S. We also learned that ideas like diversity and inclusion mean something different depending on not just our country of origin, but the intersectionality of our individual gender, class, sexuality, ethnicity, personality and more.  True diversity means welcoming all the complex ways that the word is defined. 


Initial conversations also revealed that in today’s U.S. cultural moment, our violent history and longstanding systemic inequities have resurfaced DEI conversations specific to ethnicity. The Culture Builders curriculum addressed, however,  that colonization is not unique to the United States. Racism is part of our shared, global human history.

“There are a lot of things taking place in the U.S. right now that seemed like a felt need for many in our circle to discuss.”

The U.S. focus on inclusion as it pertains to ethnicity rubs against the fact that our company can feel U.S. centric to Circles employees living outside the States–which describes the majority of our team. Our operations and development teams are dispersed throughout Argentina, Spain, Australia and New Zealand, where current inclusion efforts focus more on accessibility and socio-economic inequities.

“It was surprising to see how our current reality and culture of origin impacts the way we perceive DE&I”


Depth of conversation increased with each session, culminating for some with the third session covering privilege, power & marginalization. As the topics increased in intensity, likewise participants engaged with increasing trust and vulnerability.

“We finally hit on some great, deep conversation–and we’ve only just scratched the surface”


“We didn’t end up with any specific actions to take at Circles”

Sometimes in a business setting, it feels unwise to leave a gathering without agreed upon action steps. But when it comes to inclusive spaces to connect & grow, the conversation itself is often the bulk of the action needed–at least initially, as a starting point.

That’s not to say no Circles participants were compelled to take action–it just wasn’t prescribed by the Culture Builders program. The desire was for action steps to emerge organically. As one team member shared:

“To me personally, the Culture Builder journey did more than just start the conversation. I feel like I learned important things that are already impacting my actions–It’s not enough to notice. I need to take action on all the little things.”

Discovering We’re not Alone

As an organization, we know that we join with other global organizations who are pressing in to serve their communities well from a global DEI perspective.  We are all learning from each other, innovating & expanding our inclusive mindset. In our new world of hybrid and globally remote work, it’s bound to be an increasingly present opportunity to grow in global DEI together.


Culture Builders created space for open dialogue and discovery, and ultimately accomplished the initial objective: serving as a culture-setting starting point that left us wanting more.

“It’s difficult to find a baseline for a global team. It’s slow enough to advance everyday tasks, let alone engage potentially difficult topics.”

Initially, some wondered if culture circles were necessary–after all, we’re a growing, early-stage company with work to accomplish. Furthermore, for many of us, Circles is the most inclusive culture we’ve encountered.  But as we grow in size and diversity, we want to ensure that inclusion permeates everything we do, internally and externally. Our culture is not truly inclusive unless every voice is heard–and how will it remain so if we don’t keep short accounts and periodically reassess? 

So, what does DEI look like for a globally distributed startup? Starting the conversation, making sure every voice is heard, and once we’ve listened to understand, maintaining spaces that invites diverse perspectives and emerging action, ongoing.

For an individual or organization an inclusive mindset is a pursuit, not a fixed outcome. We commit to the journey, together.