Supporting our Black Employees, Students, and Teachers: Jan. 2021 Update

In June of 2020, when police brutality in the United States sparked global protests against racism, Code.org published a blog post outlining our commitment to supporting our Black employees, partners, teachers, and students.

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In that post, we wrote that “our first action will be to engage all our employees in a company-wide brainstorm and reflection, because the work we do won’t be limited to one day or one week, and we want all our employees to contribute to it.” After multiple brainstorming sessions for our entire staff, we came up with a long list of ideas. Every 6 months we will report on our actions taken and results of our work from this list.

Below are actions we’ve taken at Code.org in the last 6 months towards our Black Employees Students and Teachers (BEST) plan.

Code.org has historically reported student diversity by aggregating students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in a single group. We’ve begun a long-term process to disaggregate our data, to identify gaps in representation among specific racial/ethnic groups.

Below is the chart showing the racial/ethnic distribution of the tens of millions of students on Code.org:

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The racial and ethnic makeup of students with accounts on Code.org.

We’ve analyzed and published deeper data on race/gender intersectionality among Code.org students, College Board AP CS exam participants, and University CS degree holders. We published a complete report and published the first blog post in a series on this topic.

There are many parts to this:

  • As part of our spotlight Hour of Code: AI, we produced and promoted multiple videos focused on AI and Ethics (Ethics & AI: Equal Access and Bias, Ethics & AI: Privacy & the Future of Work), as well as an AI/Ethics lesson plan for classrooms, all of which have an emphasis on racial equity.
  • We hosted a live panel discussion about AI and Ethics during CSEdWeek, with an emphasis on racial equity
  • Our CodeBytes live lessons during CS Education Week included multiple CS for Good themes, including Apps for Good, a virus simulation, and AI for Good. Our marketing messaging around Hour of Code emphasized these themes.
  • As part of transitioning leadership of CSEdWeek to the CS Teachers Association, the 2020 CSEdWeek theme is #CSforSocialJustice.

We held a “Hack Days” event for our entire team to work on over 30 different projects with a focus on identifying and improving ways that the Code.org product, curriculum, and Web site can better reflect the racial diversity of students represented in our classrooms.

Aligned to our organization’s effort to disaggregate data by race and ethnicity, we performed a first-ever, full analysis of participation by Black students in CS, including intersection with gender, as part of the 2020 State of CS Report.

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Informed by research from our internal Equity Working Group, we’ve replaced “underrepresented minorities” language across our website, research, and marketing materials, to shift away from the word “minorities” and to use language that better reflects the diversity of the students we serve. You can read more about this change here.

We created an equity rubric for measuring the equity aspects of implementation of our nine recommended policies, and included the findings in the 2020 State of CS Report. The published equity rubric as part of our nine policy ideas evaluation can be reviewed here.

We contracted with external facilitators to engage the executive leadership team in five, multi-hour listening sessions with Black employees. The goal of these sessions was to assist us in identifying where we as an organization can better support an inclusive work environment.

We completed an internal survey using a third party tool, Culture Amp, to better measure inclusion and belonging in our workplace and how it varies by gender, race, and other demographic measures.

This is just a start.

As we wrote in June, this work won’t be limited to one day or one week or even one year.

Over the next 6–12 months, our future roadmap includes many new efforts, such as:

  • A video campaign and a speaker panel to inspire Black students to try computer science (during Black History Month)
  • A third-party review of our curriculum to identify opportunities for improved cultural responsiveness (by race and gender)
  • A mentorship program for employees, with intentional support for our Black employees
  • A third-party study of employee pay equity (by race and gender) to address any wage gaps
  • Sharing the insights and any corresponding actions from our internal surveys and listening sessions.

Code.org was founded on the vision that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science, and our work is not done until we reach balanced representation in K-12 computer science.

We look forward to reporting again on our progress in June or July.

-The Code.org Team

Code.org® is dedicated to expanding access to computer science increasing participation by young women and students from other underrepresented groups.

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