Belonging, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at Udemy

Constance Wilson, Director of Belonging, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at Udemy

DEI stands for diversity, equity, and inclusion.  At Udemy, we added a “B” for Belonging – creating, “BEDI.” We made this addition because we want to nurture a diverse environment where everyone is treated equitably, and not only feel included, but also feel like they belong.

Dr. Verna Myers, a DEI thought-leader and VP of Inclusion Strategy at Netflix, coined the phrase, “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” It’s a great analogy and we’ve expanded on the party theme to underscore the importance of belonging and equity at Udemy.

After you dance, you’re hungry and check out the menu. You see that the menus are available in multiple languages and braille; that’s equity. As you’re stuffing your face, the DJ gives you a special shout out letting you know that you’re amazing and the next song is dedicated to you. That’s belonging. 

We want all Udemates to feel like they belong so we’ve been intentional around fostering an inclusive environment. For example, we have established 10 Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), convened a BEDI council, and created learning paths to help our employees have foundational knowledge around BEDI topics. 

As a result, we have almost 600 people affiliated with our ERGs – about half of our employee population. Our BEDI council has representatives from all parts of our organization, and serves as an advisory board for our executive team while creating organizational accountability for BEDI efforts. And lastly, the UBelong learning path on our platform includes courses such as, “DEI: A Beginners Guide,” and “Fostering Psychological Safety and Belonging on Teams.” 

In addition, we recently launched, “Be Represented.” A self identification initiative asking Udemates to volunteer their demographic information such as; gender identity, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, and more. We ask for this information to better understand the many dimensions of diversity of our employees. We also updated our internal systems to ask questions around caretaker status, religion, and languages spoken at home. This is because we believe that understanding the intersectionality of our people is vital to driving sustainable efforts to support them in their professional growth.

The road to creating an organization that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive, where people feel they belong is a long one. We’re excited to experience the effect these initiatives will have for our entire employee-base, and though we recognize that the changes we are seeking won’t happen overnight, we will proceed until they are realized.