June 7, 2020
Yesterday many of us gathered in Stanford GSB’s Town Square to stand in solidarity with the Black community. We stood in silence for eight minutes and forty-six seconds, the time it took to end George Floyd’s life. We listened as our Black students and their classmates shared their thoughts and feelings.
There was grief at the senseless killings of Black men and women; anger at the racism that is our country’s greatest sin; exhaustion at our painfully slow progress toward racial equity. There was also hope that the diverse coalition in the streets, here and abroad, is a harbinger of meaningful change. Orlando Patterson, the great sociologist, captured these emotions in a weekend essay in the Wall Street Journal. He wrote: “It is hard to believe that the better angels of America will not prevail. But in these times, it is naive not to be deeply worried.” I share his hope and his concern, and commit to doing everything in my power to effect change.
Our faculty and students have written this week of their own commitment to change, and the importance of community and collective action. I felt that community in our staff town hall, as staff members shared readings and resources in the group chat. For Stanford GSB staff, we are planning follow-up “Brave Spaces” discussion forums in conjunction with Stanford’s IDEAL initiative. The staff DEI Working Group met and offered suggestions for further engagement, and our HR team welcomes ideas so we can continue to learn from one another. I also want to reiterate my commitment to support staff members who need time right now for reflection and healing, and for their families and loved ones.
As with many individuals and institutions, we at Stanford GSB strive to be inclusive and welcoming. Yet, at this time it’s clear that we can and must do better. For the coming year, we will make our Black community a specific focus of our work. We are working to broaden our speakers and case studies, and to create programs for diverse business leaders and alumni. We have made a commitment to measure and report our progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion. We understand that this is just a beginning and welcome input and support as we continue on this journey.
I am excited to engage our Black alumni in this effort. Their commitment to the school was visible this year when many traveled from across the country to help us recognize Ira Hall as the first Black recipient of the Stanford GSB’s Arbuckle Award. They have been powerful forces for change in the broader world, and have brought their experience and insights back to the school. As just one example, I look forward to participating in events that Daryn Dodson and Jenna Nicholas, who created Impact Experience, are organizing on racial justice later this month.
Our graduates and students play an essential role as leaders for society — and we’re proud of the contributions they’re already making. Shawon Jackson was awarded an Impact Design Immersion Fellowship to work on Our Voices Matter, which teaches high school students of color the skills to advocate for social change. He stated it well: “We are incredibly privileged at the GSB, and — in line with our school’s motto — we must consider how to use this privilege to change the world.” Ultimately, one of the greatest impacts the school has is through educating leaders who are committed to broad social change. By working together, I am confident that we can contribute to the progress our country needs to make.
Thank you for joining our efforts to deliver on Stanford GSB’s vision of a just and inclusive world,
Philip H. Knight Professor and Dean