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 put these steps into action.
“We are proud of the steps we have taken to further diversity and inclusion within our company, and we are fully committed to continuous learning and growth to ensure we don’t stop here,” said HR Director Asher Primrose.
“We believe we can learn from each and every team member if we maintain an open environment where listening and learning is celebrated.”
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 two years. 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've also established new annual company holidays in recognition of Juneteenth and Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
— Ronaldo Olivas, director, member marketing & subscription management + 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.
When we invited team members to submit a feedback survey (again, this gave them a chance to win a prize drawing), 81% of people who submitted the survey said they had taken at least one implicit bias test.
Another step we took was to add personal pronouns to our email signatures and in our Slack profiles. Sharing your pronouns is optional; we’ve provided instructions for anyone who wants 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. 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 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 created an educational library that allows 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 job postings, and we collaborated with HR on a manager training focused on reducing implicit bias during the hiring 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
“Over the past two years, I believe our company and the Project Shift committee have made great strides toward ensuring that diversity, equity, and inclusion are prioritized within our culture and across our business practices,” said Maura Lavelle, manager, Learning & Simulation Development, Simucase.
“It’s wonderful to see that these initiatives are entrenched in so many aspects of what we do and have impacted our company’s content library offerings, hiring practices, and product accessibility. We’ve also hosted internal webinars and educational activities that have created a welcoming environment where all voices are celebrated.”
Related: Read about how Continued and Simucase have joined forces with two universities to prepare future leaders from historically underrepresented groups for careers in the communication sciences and disorders fields: IMPACT program provides mentorship, support to underrepresented students