‘THERE ARE VERY FEW PEER SCHOOLS THAT ARE SHARING DATA’
Indeed, a key disappointment is the lack of comparative data in the report. “There are very few peer schools that are sharing data,” explains Soule. “Columbia has released a dashboard but it is very difficult to find reliable data on our peer schools. What I hope is that our work will inspire change at other schools as well.”
Yet numbers are hardly the complete picture. “Diversity is important but we need to work on inclusion,” explains Soule. “Diversity efforts will not be fulfilled if we cannot have an inclusive environment.”
To that end, Soule and Lori Mackenzie, the initiative’s lead strategist, led a project to review every single case study in the school’s core MBA curriculum. Of the 249 case studies taught in the core MBA curriculum from 2015 to 2017, only 16% of the protagonists were women.
STANFORD NOW TRAINING FACULTY ON HOW TO INSURE AN INCLUSIVE CLASSROOM
“It wasn’t just a count of female protagonists but the language used to describe them,” says Soule, who found that many of the women in the cases were portrayed in a way that promoted gender steretypes or reinforced gender roles. “So part of it is about the materials in the classroom and part of it is training our faculty on how to build an inclusive environment.” After an initial faculty training, more sessions will roll out over the next two months. Meantime, Soule and her team are now reviewing all the case studies in Stanford’s elective MBA courses.
The school also tapped into its alumni base to create a database of potential classroom speakers “to better reflect a more diverse community including race, ethnicity, gender, industry and geography, which will be offered to GSB faculty for their use in the classroom and/or in their future case-writing endeavors.”
‘EXERCISE CLASSES, YOGA AND MEDITATION WERE MADE MORE READILY ACCESSIBLE’
The report goes into far more detail on how the initiative impacts both applicants and students, including MBA curriculum changes that increased the range of topics covered and expanded the faculty who lead sessions in the program. Experiential sessions offered a variety of ways to engage with the material.
“The first place we looked at was the way we recruit candidates,” according to the report. “As we know from research, organizations can inadvertently send signals during recruiting that turn people away from applying. In order to make the program more broadly appealing, we broadened the definition of success, outlining not only business skills but also the individual’s impact: being a leader that matters.
“We shored up the focus on the ‘whole’ participant. Exercise classes, yoga, and meditation were made more readily accessible, which many participants welcomed. For people with families joining them for part or all of the program, our staff created pathways for their families to take part in all that Stanford has to offer. We created a weekly family dinner and offered family housing.”
FIVE GOALS FOR 2020 AT STANFORD GSB
The initiative even led to taking down images on campus. “We noticed that the images used in our buildings, classroom materials, and marketing did not fully represent the diversity of our community and in some cases, reflected traditional stereotypes,” according to the report. “In an effort led by our marketing team, we held a number of photo shoots of the current faculty, students, and staff and we are now using these new images of our community widely, for example in the corridors of the faculty building, in presentations, external collateral, on our website and in this report.”
The school laid out five goals for 2020:
1. Increase the diversity of our Stanford GSB community.
2. Create an inclusive classroom and learning experience.
3. Create an inclusive and welcoming campus community.
4. Empower and support communities underrepresented in our efforts to date.
5. Support new research efforts.
“I will say that this process has been really fantastic because there are many things we have been doing led by staff and students that have us so much further than I really knew, and I have been at the school for 11 years now,” adds Soule. “So that is the optimistic part. In two and one-half years, I hope we have reached every single one of the pieces we want to get to in the report. The wind is at our backs. The momentum at the school is strong. All arrows are pointed in the right direction so this is the perfect time for this to happen in my opinion.”