As the leader in beauty school education, Milady has a responsibility to advance inclusion and diversity (I&D) efforts throughout the curricula it provides to learners and educators. Developing content that promotes progress and enables inclusion has always been—and always will be—a top priority.
What does inclusivity and diversity mean to Milady?
Diversity and inclusion can have a powerful effect on the way students learn, both inside and outside the classroom. At Milady, we don’t believe in the idea of a generic student. Instead, our materials seek to affirm the fullness of human diversity, including the many experiences and identities that students and educators might bring to the classroom—and that they will encounter when working with clients. These I&D efforts not only include skin color and hair type, but also gender identity, learners of varying abilities, people for whom English is a second language, cultural or economic differences, and geographic norms.
Offering materials that are truly inclusive and diverse will better equip educators to teach students and better prepare students to serve their clientele. This ultimately creates a better experience for everyone: students, educators, and clients alike.
These efforts—particularly when combined with a commitment by schools, educators, and state boards to deliver a curriculum that’s truly inclusive and diverse—can help create a more enriching and rewarding experience for all within our community.
How is Milady working to be inclusive and diverse in its product offerings?
We do more than simply acknowledge diversity. We actively strive for inclusivity in content through the solicitation, promotion, recruitment, valuation, and incorporation of different views and experiences. Our efforts center on recognizing and reducing implicit biases, being intentional in our learning design, and including diverse sources of authorship.
To that end, the Milady product team follows four Quality Learning Principles that prioritize Intentional, Authentic, Personalized, and Inclusive experiences when developing and updating products. Our product and content teams are trained in the Quality Learning Principles, as well as in Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and accessible design.
Additionally, the team has built a comprehensive Inclusivity & Diversity (I&D) program and framework, collaborating with expert external consultants and our internal teams to establish a clear roadmap of actions we will take, how we will measure progress, and more.
What key I&D actions has, and is, Milady undertaking?
- Engage Experts. We engage with diverse experts who review our content from an I&D lens and provide meaningful guidance and content revisions related to their specific areas of expertise.
- Incorporate a Thoughtful Approach. We are always thoughtful and intentional in how we approach and apply I&D efforts in all our products. It’s never a one-size-fits-all formula.
- Institute I&D Guidelines. We have I&D content and authoring guidelines that our authors and content teams use as we develop new products, including print, digital (both photography and video), narrative, assessment, and supplemental materials.
- Audit Our Products. We have audited, and will continue to audit, our content with I&D specifically in mind so that we can identify where changes are needed. This is part of our normal review process when evaluating any content for revisions.
- Train Our Team. We have implemented I&D trainings for our Product team members, updated our internal online Inclusivity course, and will continue to build out our training program to ingrain our I&D standards.
- Continuously Improve. Because I&D work is never “done,” we’re never done with our efforts. We’re always looking for ways to improve ourselves and our products.
How does Milady embrace I&D within the workplace itself?
If we didn’t “practice what we preached” within our own workplace culture at Milady and Cengage, our parent company, we wouldn’t be able to create authentic I&D product offerings for our customers. That’s why fostering a safe, inclusive, and diverse workspace for our employees is essential and begins with the following:
- Unconscious bias training led by facilitators of diverse backgrounds and a business focused on diversity, inclusion, and building a human-centered workforce.
- Proactive recruitment efforts to attract diverse candidates for available job openings.
- Mindful vendor selection to ensure the process adequately considers inclusion and diversity practices.
- Comprehensive and inclusive policies and benefits that have been recognized by receiving a perfect rating from the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index.
- Employee Resource Groups that provide community engagement, resources, and support as well as professional development programs for diverse employees.
- Support and celebration of authentic expression. We prize authenticity and fully support our employees in the fullest expression of their authentic selves.
What current and upcoming deliverables demonstrate Milady’s ongoing commitment to I&D?
Milady continually strives to be inclusive and diverse in its content development and in its collaborations with authors, subject matter experts, and contributors.
For the current edition of Standard Cosmetology, celebrity stylist Ted Gibson served as Creative Director along with a diverse group of contributors who are experts in their respective fields and experienced with clients across backgrounds and identities.
While we’re proud of our past efforts, we also acknowledge there’s always more work to do. I&D is never “done,” nor is it a box to simply check off. We take our ongoing commitment to I&D seriously, particularly when it comes to updating content for flagship products, like Milady Standard Cosmetology.
For example, in 2013, to supplement the content in Standard Cosmetology about different hair textures, we developed a standalone curriculum dedicated to natural haircare and braiding. We are working toward further integrating and including this curriculum into Milady Standard Cosmetology itself.
At the end of 2021, we’ll be releasing our revised 14th Edition of Standard Cosmetology, which will reflect our most recent I&D efforts, including feedback from customers as well as I&D panel discussions that we held with stakeholders from across the beauty industry.
One of the resulting updates will be the holistic integration of more textured hair content throughout our print and digital resources. In addition, we’ll be incorporating more gender-neutral language and expanding diversity in our imagery to include non-binary models.
We look forward to continuing our partnerships to bring textured hair educational and consultation videos to our school customers, and we look forward to continued collaborations with the Professional Beauty Association’s CUT IT OUT program and Polaris Project to create our Milady RISE Certification in Client Well-Being and Safety.
The Milady RISE certification focuses on recognizing domestic violence and human trafficking. While anyone can be a victim, studies and data suggest that people of color are disproportionately affected. To help increase awareness around these important topics, we offer a complimentary Milady RISE Partnership Program. Launched in October of 2020, this program has 250+ partner schools, reaching 30,000+ students (as of April 2021). This program empowers future professionals to think beyond simply being a service provider. Instead, it encourages them to envision how they can have a real impact within their communities.
At Milady, we’re committed to a culture of “continuous improvement” as well as a growth mindset—concepts we promote to students, instructors, and industry professionals alike. This continuous improvement and growth mindset most certainly begins with us—and our doors are always open to your feedback. We’ll continue to learn, evolve, and improve existing materials while bringing new materials to the marketplace that celebrate inclusivity and diversity.