Over the years, I’ve gotten to know lots of companies in the edtech space.
In my experience, one company stands out for its success in recruiting a diverse workforce. In recruiting and retaining and promoting a set of people, at every level of the organization, that aligns with the demographics of our students.
That company is 2U.
2U has been much on my mind, as I spent some time this week immersed in the company’s financial documents. (See Reading the Latest 2U 10-K as Academic Research).
A couple of things. First, 2U is not a partner at my institution. We have talked to 2U about potential programs and courses and may do so in the future. But I have no professional collaboration with the company. Second, I don’t own any stock or have any consulting arrangements with 2U. This is a policy that I follow with every edtech company that I write about.
So my recognition of 2U’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is meant only to recognize what I see as a real success of the company and a model for the rest of higher ed technology.
Recognizing 2U’s leadership in recruiting, retaining, and promoting a diverse team is important given what we know about the demographic profile of the higher ed IT workforce.
I also want to be clear that my judgment about 2U having lots of leadership people who don’t look like me - I’m a white guy - is not based on data. Instead, my judgment is based solely on the interactions that I’ve had with numerous 2U people over the years. I’ve also visited the 2U headquarters in Lanham, MD.
In speaking to 2U leaders such as Chip Paucek (CEO and co-founder) and David Sutphen (chief strategy and engagement officer), it is clear that a commitment to diversity and inclusion is deeply baked into the 2U corporate culture. 2U’s leadership seems to understand, in a fundamental way, that diversity of views and experiences and backgrounds is a competitive advantage. They talk about how diverse teams both understand the needs of a diverse student population, but about how a range of perspectives and orientations sparks team creativity.
I’m reluctant to mention specific 2U people by name beyond those with a public presence - as I always like to check with folks before calling them out in this space. So maybe those of you who have worked with 2U on programs and courses can verify my observations.
In doing some research to write this piece (I did not speak with 2U), I was not surprised to learn that the Washington Post has named 2U as a “Top Workplace” for four consecutive years. This sort of thing matters - or should matter - to schools when they consider which company to partner with for online courses and programs.
What schools are to work with companies where the people stick around. And we want to work with companies that hire and retain people whose values align with ours.
I’d like to see some data about the demographic profile of the edtech industry. Does it exist?
For now, based only on my personal experience, I’d like to recognize (or at least hypothesize) that 2U is a leader when it comes to diversity and inclusion.
Do my observations match your own?