LONDON– Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, today announced the appointment of Dr. Florida E. Starks as SVP, Chief Diversity Officer. Dr. Starks will lead a cross-functional, company wide effort to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at Pearson and will serve as an advocate for these issues within the education and learning community.
Dr. Starks, who will report to chief human resources officer Anna Vikström Persson, brings more than fifteen years of DEI leadership experience, most recently at ConAgra Brands and Best Buy. She is a published thought-leader in the DEI community with a track record of successfully scaling up internal and external programs that promote inclusivity.
“Learning remains one of the most powerful forces for change in our world. Pearson has a unique opportunity as the world’s leading learning company to address the injustice and systemic racism that exist across society,” said Andy Bird, chief executive officer, Pearson. “I look forward to having Florida as a strategic partner who can help our businesses build a more inclusive perspective and culture; drive equity through our products and services; and help learners claim the opportunities they deserve.”
"We are experiencing a pivotal moment in global diversity, equity, and inclusion. There is an urgent need to address topics that have been out of scope for far too long. My commitment to DEI is grounded in opening this dialogue and celebrating individual identities while building a culture where each voice is amplified,” said Dr. Florida E. Starks, senior vice president and chief diversity officer, Pearson. “I am thrilled to join Pearson to advance this meaningful work and look forward to collaborating with employees, learners, and partners to further the impact of DEI on our enterprise strategy and on the ability to meet the unique needs of communities we serve."
“Florida brings the energy, creativity and expertise to help Pearson ensure our employees feel a true sense of belonging and learners see themselves in our products and services,” said Anna Vikström Persson, chief human resources officer, Pearson. “We are proud to welcome a leader of her caliber to build on the efforts already underway to promote equity and inclusion, both inside and outside of Pearson.”
In August, Pearson unveiled its DEI Action Plan, developed by a diverse group of employees, which included fifty board approved actions. Dr. Starks will help build on these actions, which include:
- Making a major financial investment in a new talent recruitment platform
- Hiring a new assessment equity advisor to ensure Pearson tests are free from bias or content that would put certain students at a disadvantage
- Reviewing 100 top courseware titles to eliminate any bias and ensure they represent the customers we serve
- Launching a new social justice portal on the Pearson website, with free social justice learning content and a form to report potential bias in learning materials
- Release of global race, ethnicity and gender content guidelines
Dr. Starks holds a degree in Human Resources Management from Lindenwood University, a master’s degree in Adult Education Management from Strayer University, a doctorate degree in Higher Ed Leadership from Capella University, and is a certified diversity and inclusion professional (CPD). She will be based out of Hoboken, NJ.
Scott Overland, (202) 909-4520 Scott.Overland@pearson.com
We are the world’s leading learning company with more than 22,500 employees operating in 70 countries. We provide content, assessment and digital services to learners, educational institutions, employers, governments and other partners globally. We are committed to helping equip learners with the skills they need to enhance their employability prospects and to succeed in the changing world of work. We believe that wherever learning flourishes so do people. Visit www.pearson.com.