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Stanford GSB Releases its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Report for 2020

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The Stanford University Graduate School of Business has released its second annual Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Report, documenting progress made towards diversity on campus and in the broader community, equity in the school and the business world at large, and inclusion of people and perspectives necessary for success.

Efforts Outlined in the Action Plan for Racial Equality

This year, the Action Plan for Racial Equality (APRE), released in July 2020, is the report’s centerpiece. Launched in the wake of the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd in the first half of 2020 and the subsequent outpouring of activism, the APRE maps the school’s efforts into four key areas: increasing representation, building a culture of inclusion and belonging, making positive change beyond GSB, and accountability. 

Sarah Soule, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

Stanford GSB puts much of the credit in the hands of Black students, alumni, and their allies, whom the school calls “instrumental” in crafting the APRE. “At the GSB, we are blessed because all of our communities are always engaged, at an incredibly high level,” says Sarah Soule, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and a professor of sociology at the GSB. “This was really a galvanizing moment for so many—and this is all in some ways very obvious—but what became such a gift to us and the administration was that our alums, our students, and staff and faculty wanted to help.”

Beyond student recruitment, the report details how the school is working to increase representation among staff, faculty, guest speakers, and visitors by supporting a diverse pipeline, focused searches, and improving processes to remove biases and other barriers. Stanford has also begun reviewing applicants for the Provost IDEAL Fellows. Announced as part of the ARPE in June, the fellowships are a key piece of its promise to devote resources to research into DEI. 

Broadly Defined Diversity

The GSB is bringing opportunities for engagement into the classroom and curriculum by thinking about diversity more broadly. “There are so many dimensions of diversity, and one of the things we also heard from our Black and brown students is that yes, race is super important, but you have to remember that increasingly so, we have wonderful dimensions of intersectionality,” says Soule. “Focus on intersectionality, and you’re capturing so much more.”

Simone Hill, Stanford DEI Consultant, GSB MBA 14

“The GSB has always had a very strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, that goes well beyond just the surface level representation, even in the way the university has defined diversity,” says Simone Hill, GSB Class of 2014 and DEI consultant with the school. “There’s a lot of intentionality about diversity of experience: where you worked, geographic diversity, all different types. I have to give significant kudos to the MBA programs office who does such a wonderful job of crafting sections, squads, and discussion sections with all of that in mind, to try and bring all of that diversity out.”

The report highlights changes in reporting and the development of programs and campus organizations surrounding neurodiversity, LGBTQ+ students, and first-generation low-income college students. Some examples are the virtual Veterans’ Visit Day, part of enhanced recruitment efforts of active duty military and veterans, and the Sí Se Puede Latin American Fee Waiver program launched earlier this year to reduce the financial burden for applicants from Latin America.

Alumni Efforts

For Simone Hill, re-engagement with DEI at the GSB started with her class. After the death of George Floyd, several of Hill’s fellow Black alums got together to discuss how they were impacted. As they had previously engaged on other social issues, they extended an invitation to the rest of the class to decide what they could do. 

The report outlines the leadership role GSB alumni have taken alongside students on DEI with the Alumni Relations team and the newly-established alumni Stanford GSB Racial Equity Initiative Task Force, a body designed to facilitate resources and provide governance and accountability.

The Stanford Alumni Consulting Team (ACT) was formed to provide pro-bono consulting services for non-profit projects focused on inclusion and racial equity. Under the commitments made in the APRE, the team is facilitating 50 projects over the next five years. Hill is working with the head of this program to ensure its success in addition to her work supporting the task force. “To do this well, we don’t want to just pick 50 projects; there’s infrastructure that needs to be created. Staff and volunteers need training, and we have to be thoughtful about making sure we are creating a space that allows for a great dialog between these new client partners and the volunteers. There’s just a lot of intentionality that’s going on behind the scenes,” Hill says.

Go to the next page for more on DEI efforts beyond the GSB, how the school is creating accountability and more.

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.