August 19, 2020
In a recent statement, Cengage CEO Michael Hansen emphasized the collective and individual responsibility we have to create equality, justice and opportunity for all. As an education company serving millions of students and educators globally, we have a critical role to play in providing quality, inclusive materials to combat the ignorance that allows systemic racism to persist. Creating an inclusive and diverse environment at Cengage is necessary in order to provide diverse perspectives in our education materials and foster an inclusive learning experience.
To further this work, we’ve recently held a series of townhalls and Employee Resource Group-led discussions, where we have created an open forum for leaders and employees across the company to share, listen and learn. These discussions will continue and are critical in forging our path forward.
Our ultimate goal is to make inclusion and diversity a sustainable and core part of the Cengage culture. To achieve this, Cengage has established a basic framework to guide practices and foster an inclusive culture and diverse workforce. Examples of the immediate short term actions the company is taking include:
- Unconscious bias training led by AWE, a women and minority-owned business focused on diversity, inclusion and building a human-centered workforce. Our Executive Team, ERG leaders and HR business partners piloted the program, which was subsequently rolled out to the Cengage senior leadership team covering virtually all VPs and SVPs within the company. In the coming weeks, we will be finalizing plans to roll this training out to the broader employee base, beginning with our people managers.
- Proactive recruitment efforts to attract diverse candidates to fill our vacant board seat.
- Reviewing our vendor selection criteria to ensure the selection process adequately considers inclusion and diversity practices.
- Empowering each of our global offices to advance the progress of racial equality and social justice in their respective communities.
- Evaluating the company calendar to take a critical look at allocation of company holidays, volunteer time, and other PTO to ensure that they reflect our inclusion and diversity goals.
In addition to these company commitments, Cengage has an important responsibility to take action when it comes to our education content and products that support learners around the globe. We have begun an immediate review of our practices and products – textbooks, learning platforms and research materials across markets – to improve inclusivity and incorporate more diverse voices. This review extends to all of our businesses and brands. Examples of these efforts include:
- Higher Education and Skills: The Higher Ed team follows four Quality Learning Principles that prioritize Intentional, Authentic, Personalized and Inclusive experiences when developing and updating products. Building on that, the team developed robust Inclusivity Guidelines to further guide product teams, authors and vendors when creating new content and products. Our product team is trained in the Quality Learning Principles, as well as in Universal Design for Learning, Accessibility (UDL) and Inclusive design. Guided by this and our Quality Learning Rubric, our product team is reviewing previously published materials across a number of disciplines including history, criminal justice and computer science to improve inclusivity and incorporate more diverse voices. Ed2go and Milady follow the same quality learning and Universal Design principals, and Milady currently has a call for public comment on its most commonly used title.
- K-12: National Geographic Learning (NGL) is committed to producing materials that show respect for all populations, recognizing that multinational, multicultural and bias free content honors the experience each student brings to the classroom. Cultural diversity, empathy, curiosity and global understanding are the principles upon which NGL programs are developed. NGL aligns its products to national and state learning objectives and ensures accessibility by following Universal Design learning principles and WCAG 2.1 AA accessibility standards and Section 508 compliance. Materials are carefully reviewed by diverse specialists in a variety of fields to ensure that content represents current pedagogical and scholarly interpretations. Programs promote thoughtful student inquiry through careful curriculum planning and development of teaching materials that ensure inclusion and support diversity in the classroom.
- Library: Gale aims to eliminate any implicit racial bias within its publishing program through an ongoing audit of the people and processes in product development. This includes efforts like ensuring diversity among its global network of scholarly advisors and a balanced representation of individuals and groups within its products, improving the accessibility of its software, and continuing to invest in technology that enables more equitable access to critical library resources. Gale’s advocacy and publishing strategies remain focused on providing the essential historical perspectives that enrich the teaching and learning of social justice issues, like racism, to shape a better future.
- International: When it comes to the number of education products Cengage sells across the globe, our mission is to ensure students receive a diverse and broad understanding of the world, led by experience. Our international teams are dedicated to working with regional experts to ensure our products are inclusive and offer diverse perspectives. At National Geographic Learning English Language Teaching, our R&D approach and publications celebrate the principles of diversity and inclusion outlined in leading global frameworks such as PISA’s Essentials of Global Competence, International Baccalaureate’s international-mindedness principles, and UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goals of gender equality and universal justice.
Cengage recognizes the immense responsibility we have, and we are committed to the continued evolution of our materials to support instructors and better educate students.