Black History Month: Celebrating Representation At Stanford GSB

Stanford Black Business Students Association Class of '22

A group photo of members of the Black Business Students Association at Stanford Graduate School of Business. Courtesy photo

In her career and through her volunteering, Meghan Hunter has witnessed the power media and storytelling have in elevating underrepresented stories.

She started her career in consulting after graduating from New York University, and spent a lot of time working in media and tech. She has also volunteered on behalf of various service and social justice issues, including at Rikers Island and, this summer, with the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala.

“I was really blown away by how important storytelling and narrative work is in amplifying this very complex issue,” says Hunter, MBA ‘22, co-president of the Black Business Students Association (BBSA) at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. “I came to Stanford with those two very different but complementary passions around media and exploring social impact in the innovation space.”

All month long, Stanford University is hosting events to celebrate its Black students, faculty and staff in recognition of Black History Month. Highlights include the Beyoncé Mass, a worship service to amplify the voices of Black women; a show by comedian Dwayne Perkins; and a number of panel discussions. The BBSA is leading its own initiatives aimed at empowering Black students in business.

Poets&Quants recently connected with the BBSA’s two co-presidents, Hunter and Davon Robertson, MBA ‘22. Robertson played football at Harvard University and earned a degree in economics. He worked in corporate strategy and development before coming to Stanford GSB. Our conversation, focused on the power of representation in lifting up Black leaders, and it is presented below, edited slightly for length and clarity.

We are also profiling six BBSA members to show the rich diversity in background and experience within the BBSA community – from former Marines, to war refugees, to world travelers. Scroll through to the end of this story to read them.

Thank you, both, for taking the time. If you would, please explain the mission of the BBSA and its importance for representing Black students at Stanford GSB.

Stanford GSB’s Black Business Students Association has events planned throughout Black History Month to lift representation.

Megan Hunter: When I think about the responsibility Davon and I have as co-presidents of BBSA, it is important for me to foster a space where our members, spanning their brilliant spectrum of Black experiences and identities, feel supported, entirely included and embraced. And I think that that looks like different things on different days. But, I think knowing that everyone has a place on this campus and in this community that they can count on, and hopefully continue to come back to after we all graduate, is important. Whatever I can do in my time here to just plant that seed for this community and steward it forward is part of the mission for me for the BBSA.

Davon Robertson: I visualize the mission in two buckets: There’s the community advocate, and then there’s how we can use power as a group to move the administration to do more things for Black people. I went into business, and the reason I’m interested in business leadership, is to try to support Black people and create economic mobility.

From the community perspective, the BBSA hosts a lot of gatherings where people can speak and feel comfortable in a space which doesn’t always have a comfortable aspect to it. Having a group to confide in, but also to appreciate the unique differences between people within the Black race, because we have people who descended from American slavery, we have African we have East and West Africans. So it’s also a place to appreciate those unique differences.

On the power side, we’ve been working with administration on how to bring more Black people into GSB. How can we increase the yields, how can we increase admissions? I see that as such a critical part of our value, and also to educate some other people. I think we also have power to educate our white classmates or other minority classmates within GSB.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek’s diversity index in its latest ranking, the U.S. population is about 14.1% Black while Stanford GSB reported having about 7% Black students. What do you think can be done to help improve Black representation at GSB and other institutions?

Davon Robertson: We need to do a better job all around in bringing more Black people into the GSB. I believe that once we do that, then there is a pipeline to corporate America or entrepreneurship, which will start to change the power imbalance that has caused things like George Floyd, and everyone who has gotten murdered, poverty, everything that has contributed to the negative effects of capitalism in the U.S. I think GSB needs to do a better job of finding that pipeline of people and supporting them earlier. One of the initiatives we have with the Black Lives Matter group does a little bit of that, but they need do better at funding and then also admitting and supporting our Black students.

Megan Hunter: One thing I would add is there is a huge opportunity for the Black voices that we bring to class – whether it be represented in our lectures or guest lecturers who are coming in. For example, there’s an important nuance to capture when we are having discussions around risk taking and who is able to start a venture right after graduation. I am not privileged to have the same failsafes that others might, and I think there is some nuance to how we frame and think about certain business contexts. I think there is so much opportunity to have Black lecturers and guests come into these classes and join that nuanced conversation.

Next page: Poets&Quants’ conversation with BBSA co-presidents Meghan Hunter and Davon Robertson continues.

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