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An Update on Diversity and Inclusion at FutureLearn in 2021

Where we were in 2020

In November 2020, we wrote about reflecting on our diversity and inclusion beliefs and practices. At the time, we had come up with a diversity brief that has since been published on our website and job adverts. As part of a commitment to holding each other accountable, we created five strong pillars endorsed by the executive board and embedded in our company-wide objectives and key results.  

We value all the great benefits that diversity brings and encourage everyone to bring their whole self at work, regardless of gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age or disability. At FutureLearn, we take care of each other and we have zero tolerance for any kind of exclusion.

We outlined these objectives as follows: 

  • Improve the overall representation of minorities and representation in leadership roles
  • Minimise bias through training and awareness 
  • Embed diversity and inclusion in policies and everyday practices
  • Celebrate diversity and educate/advocate 
  • Champion diversity within the edtech sector 

The progress we’ve made since 

With these objectives in mind, we’ve made sure to measure the progress that we’ve made. Below, we’ve picked out some of the improvements and successes we’ve made throughout the business. 

  • We’ve increased the ethnic diversity among our staff by 15% compared to last year. 
  • We’ve moved to be proactive on job websites that are focused on talent from diverse backgrounds.
  • We continue to have at least one diverse candidate on every shortlist.
  • Our internal surveys show that our diverse colleagues are more engaged (minority ethnicities were 6% more engaged than company average, those who are neurodiverse or disabled were 10% more engaged than company average).
  • We’ve continued to focus on inclusion, launching our values which are framed around a more inclusive culture.
  • We’ve created an agenda for a more regular cadence of internal LGBTQIA+ activity. This includes:
    • Electing a LGBTQIA+ Mental Health First Aid Champion so that there’s access to support for LGBTQIA+ staff from someone in the community
    • Appointing a diversity champion who works closely with our LGBTQIA+ champion to create intersectional celebrations and ensure FutureLearn does all we can to be an inclusive workplace.

We certainly feel that the steps we’ve taken so far represent progress in some essential areas. However, we also recognise that there is still work to be done to ensure we continue to make FutureLearn a diverse and inclusive place to work. 

Our plans for the future 

As well as regularly reviewing, measuring and reporting on our progress, we’ve also planned some internal activities for the future. These include: 

  • We’ve created a roadmap of celebratory events supporting LGBTQIA+ businesses and economy. This includes events such as attending LGBTQIA+ theatre shows, for example. 
  • Continuing to educate staff on key issues, including:
    • A focus on trans, non-binary and bisexual identities (which are less known)
    • Training in LGBTQIA+ lexicon, so they can make the choice to enter the conversation regarding LGBTQIA+ issues and create a more inclusive workplace for all
    • Continuing with our BLM Forums, which provide a company-wide opportunity to discuss projects, progress, feedback and accountability around the topics of inclusivity, equality, and celebrating diversity as a company and employer.
  • Hosting an intersectional fundraiser for Black Pride to donate money to a Black LGBTQIA+ charity that offers mental health support. This also actively celebrates people of colour from the LGBTQIA+ community, both internally and externally. 

We hope that through these efforts and our continued commitment to our diversity and inclusion beliefs, we can champion inclusivity within the edtech sector. Through self-reflection and positive actions, we can ensure FutureLearn is a welcoming place for all. 


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