At Continued and sister company Simucase, we are always evaluating how we prioritize diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism/anti-oppression efforts.
In June of 2020, our company outlined several actionable steps to ensure we are looking through the lens of equality in all aspects of our business. While we know there is still much work to be done, we have spent the past year putting these steps into action.
“We have almost 150 different voices in our company, and I believe that we can learn something from each of them if we work to build an open environment where the ability to listen and learn is prized,” said CEO Tony Perlak.
“I am proud of all of our team members for the steps they have taken to maintain and enhance our ongoing and steadfast commitment to furthering diversity and inclusion within our company.”
Here’s what some of our team members have to say about keeping diversity, inclusion, and cultural humility at the forefront of what we do:
How is the company committed to furthering diversity and inclusion?
This has always been an important piece of our culture, but I’ve seen an even deeper commitment over the past year. A big step we’ve taken is to form a diversity committee to serve as a resource as we seek to empower, expand, and celebrate diverse voices within our organization and the professions we serve. Called Project Shift: Celebrating Diverse Voices, this committee includes team members from across the company who provide information and guidance to ensure that inclusion and equality influence all of our business practices.
The company has also made significant donations to organizations that advance social justice on both a local and national level, and we established a new annual company holiday in recognition of Juneteenth.
— Ronaldo Olivas, director, marketing & sales retention + Project Shift team member
How has Project Shift increased internal knowledge and raised awareness of marginalized groups?
Part of Project Shift’s mission is to educate ourselves and to share resources internally. Our company has a robust intranet site with a lot of resources for team members; we’ve added to that a page with links to websites/resources we recommend. This includes anti-racist reading lists, implicit bias tests, and information about hate violence.
We also give an update in monthly all-staff meetings to highlight different topics related to diversity and marginalized groups. And we’ve highlighted the work of a few nonprofit organizations that align with our mission to celebrate diverse voices.
One initiative we did during our first year was to encourage team members to take implicit bias tests through Project Implicit. The more tests someone took, the more chances they had to win our prize drawing.
We recently invited team members to submit a feedback survey (again, this gave them a chance to win a prize drawing), and 81% of people who submitted the survey said they had taken at least one implicit bias test. And when we asked team members which of several diversity-related areas people think they’ve learned about over the past year through the workplace, implicit bias was the most common response.
Another step we took this year was to add personal pronouns to our email signatures and in our Slack profiles. We shared information about how to do this with the staff along with some information from LGBTQ community organizations that address frequently asked questions about the transgender community and ways to be an ally.
One resource we shared was an article that talks about why it’s important for pronoun sharing to be optional. So that’s something that we stressed when we rolled this out—that you can add your pronouns if you want to, but there’s no pressure to do so.
— Stevie St. John, senior copywriter + Project Shift team member
How has the editorial team addressed the topic of diversity when planning the course libraries for Continued?
We’re fortunate to have subject-matter experts across all of our learning spaces, so we have quite a large network of presenters. It’s been exciting to collaborate on the topic of diversity, equity, and inclusion to share courses and create new content.
Our courses go beyond traditional “cultural competency” to include areas like neurodiversity, effective care for LGBTQ patients, recognizing implicit biases, cultural humility, and more.
Our one-hour courses are very popular, as they can pack a lot of content into a manageable timeframe for busy professionals. We are also planning more in-depth courses and course series for those who want to take a deeper dive. We are committed to further developing our course libraries as well as our own understanding of these important topic areas.
— Carolyn Smaka, AuD, Continued editor in chief
What improvements have we made as an organization related to accessibility?
At the core of who we are as a company is our mission to provide an online learning experience that is affordable, convenient, and accessible for all members.
Having a website that is accessible is essential to many users; it also provides an improved user experience for all. Over the past year, we’ve made numerous changes to Continued learning sites in keeping with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 principles and guidelines. For example, we have increased font sizes and line height, increased the contrast between foregrounds and backgrounds, and added alternative text to thousands of images. We also rebuilt our website navigation to be fully keyboard accessible, which also supports the use of screen readers for people who require accommodation for low vision or blindness.
In addition to the changes on our sites, we ensure our learning content meets the needs of a diverse audience by captioning all live and recorded webinars and podcasts. Also, we provide a written transcript to support members' different learning styles and needs.
— Valerie England, development manager + Project Shift team member/accessibility advocate
How is the company continually improving efforts to celebrate diverse voices?
As we seek to educate the company as a whole, we are building an educational library that will allow team members to explore different areas of diversity and inclusion at their own pace. We also look at our company culture to ensure that we always encourage and celebrate the diversity within our own company.
At the same time, we want to make an impact in the professions we serve and recognize opportunities we have as an education provider to promote diversity within those professions.
Project Shift also works collaboratively with human resources to help encourage a broader group of more diverse candidates to apply for jobs at our company. We've recommended best practices for gender-neutral and more inclusive language in our job postings. We're also working to determine best practices to implement throughout our entire interview process. We want our company to reflect the diverse voices that are found around the country.
— Anna Smith, continuing education manager + Project Shift team member
“Providing resources for inclusion and diversity education, making company-wide statements, and not remaining silent on important national issues really makes all team members feel welcome, supported, and safe in the work environment.” — Recent survey response from a Continued team member