Supporting our Black Employees, Partners, Students, and Teachers: June 2021 Update

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

We hosted a brainstorm for our entire staff, made a multi-year plan of action, and committed to public updates twice a year. (The January 2021 update is here).

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

1) Launched a video featuring Black role models to inspire CS students, in partnership with over a dozen nonprofits led by people of color

View on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn

The video received over 1 million views and 3,000 shares across different platforms. We thank our partners in this work: AfroTech, All Star Code, Black Girls Code, CodeCrew, Codehouse, ColorStack, /dev/color, The Hidden Genius Project, INTech Camp for Girls, Kapor Center, Khan Academy, National Society of Black Engineers, Scratch Foundation, SMASH, STEM NOLA, and Streetcode Academy.

2) Ran a campaign throughout Black History Month focused on inspiring Black CS students

For Black History Month, we published a page featuring inspirational pioneers in computer science, data on the inequitable access to CS education, and videos of role models to inspire students. Throughout the month, we used our social media reach to amplify these examples and other posts to support Black computer scientists.

3) Hosted multiple panels focused on recruiting Black students and teachers in CS

We hosted multiple panels featuring celebrated educators and nonprofit leaders to bring focus to the importance of deliberate efforts to recruit Black students and teachers in computer science. Stay tuned for more!

Panel 1: Recruiting Black teachers and students into CS

Panel 2: Engaging Black students and teachers in CS

4) Published datasets for students to explore the racial impact of technology and AI

In the datasets for our App Lab tool (used in our CS Principles classrooms), and in our upcoming AI unit for CS Discoveries, we added datasets for students and classrooms to explore data through a racial lens, or to learn how training data may cause AI to perpetuate historical racial biases.

For example, in App Lab, we included a dataset with demographic data about the US incarcerated population, by race and ethnicity and region. Or, in our AI unit, students uncover how data used to train AI to make medical recommendations could be racially biased (a scenario based on real events).

5) Commissioned a 3rd-party study of our employee pay equity (by race and gender)

We worked with Syndio to analyze compensation for all Code.org employees, to identify gaps in pay by race and by gender, with a commitment to address any wage gaps.

We were pleased that the Syndio study found that women at Code.org are paid equally compared to men in similar positions, and that people of color at Code.org are paid equally to white employees in similar positions.

Note: Our team was too small for Syndio to analyze whether there are any statistically-significant gaps in pay specific to our Black employees.

6) Shared insights from our internal surveys and listening sessions with all managers.

In January’s update we noted hosting a series of listening sessions for all our Black employees with our executive team, as well as a team-wide survey focused on diversity and inclusion. We’ve shared the survey results with all managers at Code.org and hosted sub-team discussions about areas for improvement, and we have shared the summary findings (“emergences”) from our listening sessions with our managers as well.

7) Onboarded a new team (internal and external) for continued DEI work

We hired a full-time Learning and Development Manager, as well as a consulting firm, who will work together to facilitate internal sessions focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion, with a goal to continue growing an inclusive culture for all employees regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, age, marital status, sexual orientation, or identity.

8) Audited our hiring practices with an eye towards hiring diverse talent

We audited our hiring approach to ensure we are following industry best-practices for attracting, identifying, and recruiting diverse talent on the team at Code.org. We publish our team diversity numbers annually at Code.org/diversity.

A look at Code.org’s internal diversity numbers. See more at code.org/diversity.

9) Made Juneteenth an official company holiday

To commemorate and celebrate the day of emancipation and the end of slavery in the United States, we are making June 19 (today) an official holiday at Code.org, and using the opportunity to help our team learn and celebrate.

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:

  • Analyzing our classroom data to identify (and work to close) gaps separating Black students from their peers.
  • A third-party review of our curriculum to identify opportunities for improved cultural responsiveness or affirmation (by race and gender).
  • Taking focused action to increase participation by Black students in the AP Computer science Principles exam.
  • Expanding on the analysis above, to develop and track key measures of in-classroom inclusivity and learning to compare student classroom experiences by race, to identify and improve experiences for Black students.
  • Establish a mentorship program for our employees, with intentional support for our Black employees.

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 early 2022.

-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.