Stanford GSB Action Plan for Racial Equity

Dean Jon Levin and Senior Associate Dean Sarah Soule write to the Stanford GSB community with strategies to increase representation, build inclusion, and ensure accountability.

July 26, 2020

The recent wave of protests has shone a light on racial injustice in the United States, the need for action to eradicate structural racism, and the importance of securing equal opportunity, freedom, and human dignity for Black Americans.

Stanford Graduate School of Business commits to addressing racial inequality in society and within our own corridors. Over the past weeks, we have listened to the stories of our Black students, alumni, staff, and faculty. We have heard sobering and powerful accounts of bias, including on our own campus, and the obstacles many in our community have overcome to succeed. We have been inspired by the energy of the GSB community to work together toward racial equity across our country and the world.

These discussions have helped to motivate and inform our Stanford GSB Action Plan for Racial Equity. The goals and strategies in the plan aim to increase representation, build greater inclusion, drive positive change beyond the GSB, and ensure accountability.

Increasing Representation

We are committed to increasing significantly the representation of Black and other underrepresented minority (URM) teaching faculty, staff, and students at the GSB. This commitment builds on the momentum of our ongoing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts. We are acutely conscious that prior efforts, especially in the area of faculty recruiting, have stalled, which calls for fresh thinking and renewed commitment. Recent discussions also have highlighted opportunities to make the GSB more accessible to students from less privileged backgrounds, especially Black and other URM students from families of lower socioeconomic status.

Key pillars of this effort will include improving our teaching faculty and student recruitment strategies and processes; working with our alumni to identify outstanding lecturers who are Black, URM, or from other underrepresented backgrounds; and ensuring active outreach and robust efforts to eliminate bias in our staff hiring processes. Two near-term priorities will be to launch the GSB BOLD Fellows Program (Building Opportunities for Leadership Diversity) to augment financial support for students who have shown a deep commitment to obtaining an education in the face of significant financial hardship, and to actively engage in an ambitious cross-Stanford effort to attract faculty focused on The Impacts of Race in America.

Building a Culture of Inclusion and Belonging

We are committed to strengthening our culture of inclusion and belonging. This has been a priority over the last several years as we have developed workshops around managing sensitive topics in the classroom, new training for staff managers, and a student GSB Pods program to engage with issues of diversity. Our discussions with Black students, staff, and faculty have highlighted the work that remains and areas where we have an opportunity to make immediate and tangible progress.

In the coming year, we will introduce two new courses: Leadership for Society: Race and Power, to educate future leaders about racial injustice and inequality and to inspire them to make positive change; and Blocking Bias in Academe, to educate PhD students to be more effective professors and leaders in diverse university environments. We intend to increase the number of Black and URM guest speakers and case protagonists, with the assistance of GSB alumni. We also will organize a Stanford GSB Rising Scholars Conference for diverse PhD and postdoctoral students to present their work and interact with faculty from the GSB and other institutions.

Making Positive Change Beyond the GSB

Stanford GSB has an opportunity and a responsibility to contribute to a broad national effort to eliminate racial inequity and injustice. We are committed to empowering faculty, alumni, staff, and students to work collectively to elevate Black Americans and address the United States’ legacy of systemic racism. We envision these efforts as both ambitious and long-term, requiring substantial planning and resources.

Over the coming months, we will launch the GSB Racial Equity Initiative in partnership with our alumni to increase representation, strengthen leadership, and foster economic inclusion beyond our campus. The first step will be the creation of a task force to scope and secure resources for the initiative. As part of this effort, we will support the GSB Alumni Consulting Team to undertake 50 projects over the next five years for organizations that are committed to inclusion and racial equity. Finally, we intend to introduce a Supporting Black Business Leadership executive education program to accelerate and advance the careers of exceptional business leaders.

Holding Ourselves Accountable

As we continue this journey and implement these initiatives, we must hold ourselves accountable and measure our effectiveness. This fall, we will create a new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council of faculty, staff, and students to sustain momentum on our broad DEI goals across every area of the GSB and to ensure that we achieve progress around Black representation and inclusion. We also will continue to publish Stanford GSB’s Annual DEI Report, adding more metrics, including those designed to measure representation and our culture of inclusion. In addition, we will work with the university to contribute to, and improve upon, the Stanford IDEAL Dashboard.


The goals and actions we set out today will require sustained effort and commitment. We have been gratified to see the extraordinary and deep-rooted desire of GSBers to contribute to the effort to eliminate racial inequities. We are confident that, together, we will build a more just and equitable world.


Jon and Sarah

Jonathan Levin, Philip H. Knight Professor and Dean of Stanford Graduate School of Business

Sarah A. Soule, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, The Morgridge Professor of Organizational Behavior

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