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Driving DEI Certificate Program Success for the University of South Florida

When the University of South Florida's Muma College of Business, headed by Dean Moez Limayem, decided to introduce digital credentials into their DEI certification program, "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace," they had no idea they were building a worldwide phenomenon.

The University’s College of Business partnered with local powerhouses, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Jabil Innovation Institute, to educate business and community leaders in the essential practices and tools designed to increase employee diversity and build business models that embrace equity and inclusion. 

Course participants delved into how workforces that include people of different races, religions, ages, genders, sexual orientations, and abilities can solve broader societal issues as well as offer perspectives that directly affect the way organizations develop new business practices, increase revenue, and improve performance. The seven modules focus on topics such as emotional intelligence, stereotypes and biases, recruitment and retention, and community outreach.

Why digital badges were key

The University of South Florida partners with Credly to offer 75 digital credentials and counting to their students. Many of their courses offer students the opportunity to earn a digital credential to add to their resumes and share online. USF understands that their students use digital badges to visualize their growing knowledge, skills, and abilities and create pathways for career advancement. Because of this partnership, it was a natural fit for USF to turn to Credly when Dean Limayem and his team were thinking of offering a course on diversity and inclusion.

To earn their digital badge, course participants needed to complete seven two-hour modules with quizzes following each module.

Overwhelming response to USF's DEI certification program

While the USF team planned out this course, they focused on the rethinking, updating, and revamping that companies need to make to their diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies and initiatives. While DEI is currently a large focus for human resources professionals and C-suite leaders, the USF team designed this program to be meaningful for people across levels and industries.

At the outset of this digital certification program, USF asked themselves: How will we measure the success of this program? They agreed that enrolling and issuing digital badges to 100 to 200 participants during the six-week run of the free course would be their goal.

When nearly 150,000 people worldwide participated in the course, they were stunned. More than 62,000 participants earned their digital credential over the course of six weeks.

Course participants included enterprise companies across various industries, like JP Morgan, Bank of America, United Way, Boeing, NASCAR, Disney, Amazon, Oracle, the EPA, and Wells Fargo, as well as military organizations such as the U.S. Army and Air Force.

Course metrics include:

  • 62,000+ badges issued
  • 75% share rate
  • 160,000+ views of USF DEI badges
  • 25,000+ clicks on USF DEI badges

When looking at the metrics and the overwhelming response to the course, the high share rate on USF's digital badge stands out to Dean Limayem. Seventy-five percent of the participants who completed the course and earned their digital badge have shared this badge on a networking site like LinkedIn, to their digital resume, or in their email signature. "They are proud to have taken the course and share the badge," he said.

Speaking with DEI badge earners

We asked a few USF DEI badge earners from Credly about their takeaways from this course. Susan Manning, Credly's Chief Success Strategist, shared her thoughts on how this course impacted her perception of advocacy, stereotypes, and difference in the workplace. Here’s an overview of how that conversation went:

What were your takeaways from the University of South Florida’s course on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace?

USF's DEI course reinforced quite a few of my personal values, which made participating relatively easy for me. Still, there were a couple awkward moments that may have had the greatest impact.

The first moment was a question of understanding the question, “Wait –– what am I?” Defining oneself based on pre-set labels doesn't often capture the essence of who we are. I might be in the majority for race as a white woman but in other areas, I am clearly in the minority. Those descriptors (woman, older) intersect and can be used to help me be more sensitive to others and shape the voice I bring to discussions?

You mention labels and age. Would you mind sharing some of your thoughts on the stereotypes around age in the workplace? Did this course bring anything to light?

How often do we think young people have no experience and older workers are either set in their ways or cannot grasp technology? Verified skills tell a different story, and yet there are missed opportunities because those who hire and manage talent filter candidates based on slight nuances that are unverified (e.g. the date one completed a degree or other indicators on a resume).

While I might not be in a hiring position, I can at least check my own assumptions when interacting with colleagues.

Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences. Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I am a firm believer that people bring their whole selves to work. A little curiosity goes a long way in terms of exploring what we have in common and some of the traditions and foundations.

The USF team had originally prepared to only run this program once, however, may be revisiting this decision. Updates about future enrollment periods or similar courses will be posted to the course certification overview page on USF's website.

If you're interested in learning more about how offering digital badges can increase participation in your courses, contact us today to schedule a free demo.