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Stanford Graduate School of Business Releases Action Plan to Address Racial Inequity and Bias

After conversations with the Black Alumni Association and the Black Business Student Association, The Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) has implemented an action plan to address racial inequity and bias at the institutional level and within the higher education sector.

“After the wave of protests that occurred following the death of George Floyd, senior staff members went on a ‘listening tour’ of our Black students, alumni, staff and faculty to understand where we are falling short as an institution,” said Dr. Sarah A. Soule, GSB’s senior associate dean for academic affairs. “We have heard sobering and powerful accounts of bias, including on our own campus, and the obstacles many in our community have had to overcome to succeed. Although we released our very first report on diversity, equity and inclusion last year, we learned we still have a lot of work to do to increase Black and underrepresented minority student and faculty representation and actively prevent racism at Stanford GSB.”

Under the plan, the goals are to increase representation, maintain institutional accountability, create an inclusive environment and implement positive change outside of the school.

Dr. Sarah A. SouleDr. Sarah A. Soule

To increase the number of underrepresented faculty members, Stanford GSB will improve its recruitment strategies by partnering with alumni to identify talented Black lecturers.

During the hiring process, biases will be identified and an internship program will be established in order to attract talented potential staff stemming with disadvantaged backgrounds.

Stanford GSB will also participate in the Impacts of Race in America: Faculty Cluster Hire, one of the initiatives of Dr. Marc Tessier-Lavigne, president of Stanford University. The search looks for scholars who will study the impact of race within the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), social sciences and humanities fields.

To increase the number of Black students pursuing a master’s in business or a doctoral degree at the university, recruitment will occur from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and organizations such as the Ph.D Project. Additionally, the Stanford Building Opportunities for Leadership Diversity (BOLD) Fellowship will be launched to support those students who have “shown a deep commitment to obtaining an education in the face of financial hardship,” according to the action plan.

As part of establishing an inclusive environment, Stanford GSB introduced two courses for the fall, “Leadership for Society: Race and Power,” and “Blocking Bias in Academe.”

The school will also search for and encourage faculty to identify potential new guest speakers to inform audiences about Black and underrepresented minority leaders.

A Stanford GSB Rising Scholars Conference is planned to allow for a diverse group of Ph.D. and postdoctoral students to convene and present their work to faculty from the university and other institutions.

In partnership with alumni, the Stanford GSB will establish a racial equity initiative to “increase representation, strengthen leadership and foster economic inclusion” as well as a task force, according to the plan. Over the next five years, the Stanford GSB Alumni Consulting Team will undertake 50 projects for organizations committed to inclusion and racial equity.

Additionally, the school will establish a Supporting Black Business Leadership Executive Education program to support Black students’ careers in business.

Under the accountability aspect of the action plan, Stanford GSB plans to establish a Diversity Equity and Inclusion Council. Participants will include faculty, staff and students and the council aims to achieve set goals around Black representation and inclusion. Lastly, the school will continue to publish its annual DEI report and add metrics including those designed to measure “representation and our culture of inclusion,” the plan said.

“We look forward to continuing these conversations as the students begin their fall quarter in mid-September,” said Soule. “As this plan is still new, we’re still gathering reactions from all of our key stakeholders and we’re working diligently with additional members of our team and community, with specific emphasis on Black and underrepresented minority voices, to ensure that this plan is justly representative of all groups involved.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all councils and meetings regarding these plans will be held virtually. However, if permitted, they will be held in-person with mask and social distancing precautions, according to Soule.

She recognized that Stanford and other institutions “still have a lot of work to do on campus and beyond.”

Members of the Stanford GSB community also signed a pledge demonstrating their commitment to ending systemic racism.

“Additional measures for addressing racism and inequities are not one size fits all, but there are a few areas we feel could be improved across the higher education ecosystem,” said Soule. “These include proactively working to identify and prevent racial microaggressions and ensuring that curriculum is not only diverse in content and authorship, but also presents numerous sides of an argument for a well-rounded understanding of all perspectives. Additional areas include being purposeful and public in your efforts and make them collaborative and Socratic in nature to hear from key stakeholders and individuals, while establishing policies that are clear and action-oriented.”

Sarah Wood can be reached at [email protected].

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