At Renaissance our mission is, “To accelerate learning for all children and adults of all ability levels and ethnic and social backgrounds, worldwide.” Inherent in a mission that strives to serve “all children and adults” is the need to recognize the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our culture, in our work, and in our products. That is why our DEI mission is, “Accelerate learning for all by building a Renaissance for all.”
In 2020, Renaissance began to reckon with the impact systemic racism has on our communities, our employees, and our customers. Being passive in opposition to racism was no longer an option and did not align with our company values or mission. It also began to publicly prompt difficult questions – How representative is our team of the districts and students that we serve? What voices may be missing from important conversations? What voices may be here at Renaissance already but aren’t being heard?
Our CEO, Chris Bauleke hosted a company-wide All Hands to center the voices and experience of Black employees and begin prompting conversations about the importance of DEI at Renaissance. This kicked off our formal DEI work and we built a strategy around three pillars of DEI: Equitable Talent Practices, Inclusive Culture, and Equity in Education. Renaissance’s Inclusion Council—a group of employees who represent different identities, locations, job levels, and functions from across the company—is helping to shape and execute that strategy.
Since then, we have created a fully organized DEI ecosystem that involves people throughout the organization and is embedded within the very structure of Renaissance. Some of our DEI work in the past year includes:
- Creating Employee Resource Groups, such as the Renaissance Black Employee Network and the Workin’ Moms of Renaissance.
- Training for the Senior Leadership Team on topics such as managing unconscious bias, leading inclusively, addressing microaggressions, and practicing allyship.
- Facilitating dialogues and employee roundtables to better understand the experience of underrepresented employees at Renaissance.
- Analyzing the results of our annual inclusion survey as well as internal data on representation and turnover to assess how best to focus our DEI efforts.
- Partnering with vendors like Jopwell and Textio to increase our ability to source a diverse slate of candidates.
- Implementing skills-based, structured interviewing to remove bias in the selection process.
- Integrating our values into the performance management process to help remove bias in performance reviews and ensure that we are committed to living our values in our day-to-day work life.
While we have come a long way in the past year, there is still plenty of work to do. A true commitment to creating an inclusive and equitable workplace requires ongoing evaluation, accountability, and action woven into every corner of our company culture.
As Chris Bauleke recently reminded all employees:
“… Black Lives Matter at Renaissance and to me. As a company, we still have a lot of work to do to build a truly inclusive culture. And that work will continue to challenge us.
In the meantime, our company values can help guide each of us. At Renaissance, we believe that doing what is right and communicating openly with one another – to Trust Each Other – is foundational to supporting inclusion and equity at Renaissance and across the communities we serve. We also recognize that we come to these conversations with different lived experiences and there will no doubt be some growing pains, and perhaps even conflict, as we learn to navigate these topics and conversations – as we Grow and Evolve – together.”