26 Letters offers a data-driven approach to inclusion and diversity in workplaces and organizations

A Twin Cities-based company is helping employers and organizations foster inclusion and diversity.

26 Letters uses a multi-faceted approach including a text-based resource for employees, inclusion-oriented assessments, and educational content to build awareness of and engagement on diversity in workplaces and other spaces where teams work.

Founder Caroline Karanja is presenting at 1 Million Cups Fargo on Wednesday, March 27.

Karanja said the company “started accidentally;” it grew out of conversations she was having with consulting clients about increasing diversity in their organizations. Those conversations grew into a company in early 2016.

“It was something that I had been doing anyway for a little while,” Karanja said.

26 Letters’ process starts with assessments to determine what a client’s areas of opportunity are. These assessments involve understanding employees’ perceptions of how they fit into their organization and review of relevant data regarding the organization.

“We take a pretty data-driven approach to all of this,” Karanja said.

The company also offers services to educators, schools, and school districts, including continuing education units for professional development.

The name 26 Letters comes, of course, from the number of letters in the alphabet, representing what Karanja called “the lowest denominator” of language, capable of bridging cultural, linguistic, and ideological gaps, depending on how one puts the letters together.

26 Letters prioritizes “giving people the tools and the resources and the learning to connect,” Karanja said. The About page of the company’s website describes its work as “A Language of Inclusion.”

The background Karanja brings to 26 Letters includes studying American Studies and English as an undergraduate, then teaching herself software development during her last semester.

“It was really more to relieve the stress of finishing college,” Karanja said of learning software development, although she has made use of the skill since acquiring it. 26 Letters combines both her humanities background and her digital skills.

One of the goals of 26 Letters is to build a society and a community that is more empathetic.

“It was really a process of productizing those steps,” Karanja said.

For more information on 26 Letters, visit 26letters.co. 1 Million Cups Fargo takes place each Wednesday from 9:15 – 10:15 a.m. at The Stage at Island Park.

Austin Gerth