At Turnitin, we’re proud to acknowledge Black History Month. In February, the US celebrates Black History Month in honor of African Americans, African American history, and the artistic, cultural, and political achievements of Black people, some of whom include:
- Charlotte Forten Grimke, the first Black teacher at the Penn School, formed for freed slaves, the first African American graduate of Salem State, and an acclaimed poet. You can read more about Ms. Grimke here.
- Kelly Miller, the first Black graduate student in Mathematics and a dean at Howard University. You can read some of his work, including correspondence with Woodrow Wilson, here.
- Marva Collins, who won the National Humanities Medal for teaching “unteachable” students and founded Westside Preparatory School in 1974. You can read The New York Times commemoration of her life here.
- and Charles Hamilton Houston, a dean at Howard University who argued Supreme Court cases that laid a foundation for the Brown v. Education ruling. Harvard Law Today reflected on his life accomplishments here.
These pioneering educators paved the way to create diversity, equity, and inclusion for students, values that we embrace at Turnitin. It is this work that we uphold everyday and use as models for our own, whether through assessment with integrity or how we strive to work together as individual employees. And we want to support ongoing innovation.
Community is the bedrock of education–within classrooms and at institutions–and we recognize the importance of creating safe spaces for Black employees in our Turnitin community. In particular, we want to encourage employee-driven safe spaces focused on inclusion and belonging. Empowering our employees to make positive change is a fundamental component of our mission to uphold integrity and our brand value of showing up as our authentic selves. In doing so, we hope to continue the legacy of educators who have made a positive impact on the ecosystem of education and nurture students in their lifelong educational journeys.
One way companies have historically created safe spaces is with Employee Resource Groups (ERGS). ERGs are resources for enabling employee networking and facilitating discussions based on shared lived experiences, identities, and allyship, rooted in advocacy and with the goal of providing safe spaces so employees can be their best authentic selves.
In 1964, Xerox formed the country’s first official ERG to create a space for Black employees to advocate for change and mitigate discrimination within Xerox. Since then, ERGs have blossomed worldwide, growing beyond identity groups to groups based on shared interests like environmental activism and wellness, tying individual employees to business goals.
In 2021, we are continuing our work to uphold diversity, equity, and inclusion; to foster a sense of belonging, we launched, with the support of Turnitin’s Diversity Council, a Women’s Employee Resource Group (ERG), LGBTQ+ ERG, and Black ERG, enabling employees to surface ways to better the lives and careers of historically marginalized voices. We look forward to supporting more employee-driven ERGs that support our Turnitin community and beyond.
Turnitin’s ERGs will strive to better the ways in which we communicate and action our values of integrity and global mindset. They will work towards initiatives that not only support our internal workings but our offerings to customers in the form of products that continue to help educators and students grow and maintain a sense of belonging in the classroom and the world. We are proud of their potential and for the passion of employees who have helped found our ERGs.
We hope future generations can look back and laud the history we build going forward–and for that, we are grateful for educators who are the model for our own work and for sustaining the future.