New Executive Education Program to Advance Black Leadership in Business and Communities

The Stanford Executive Education Black Leaders Program is the only program of its kind offered by a leading business school.

March 30, 2021

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Brian Lowery, The Walter Kenneth Kilpatrick Professor of Organizational Behavior and Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Credit: Elena Zhukova

“I want participants to leave this course with a better understanding of themselves, to see themselves in the context they inhabit more clearly, and in that clarity gain more power to achieve their goals.” | Elena Zhukova

Driven by the commitment to make positive change in diversity, equity, and inclusion, Stanford Graduate School of Business announces the launch of the Stanford Executive Education Black Leaders Program, a new online offering for Black leaders and allies focused on strengthening personal and organizational leadership and building community. The innovative three-part program begins with live online coursework August 9–19 and ends on Nov. 10, 2021, after a three-month personal leadership project.

“Considering the underrepresentation of Black leaders at every level in the corporate world, this Black Leaders Program is long overdue,” said Faculty Director Brian S. Lowery, the Walter Kenneth Kilpatrick Professor of Organizational Behavior and Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. “The program is designed to create a productive and meaningful network for aspiring, promising leaders and those who support them, through reflection and connection with people who share similar experiences. By carving out a space to have honest conversations about Black identity in the workplace and barriers to success, this unique program takes participants on a learning journey of self-awareness, growth, and transformation.”

Yet, the benefits of the program can be expected to extend beyond individuals’ professional development.

As Camye Mackey, Chief People, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer of the Atlanta Hawks basketball team, sees it, strengthening the leadership abilities of individuals driven to serve the community in which they live and work strengthens the organization as well. She says this civic-minded approach to leadership development ripples beyond the individual. “Just as important to us is the impact of leaders on the community. We know that diversity in our organization serves as a positive model for residents and other companies in the greater Atlanta community,” said Mackey.

The Hawks have already pledged to support the program.

“This is not a program about race,” said Lowery. “It’s a program about leadership for people who will manage how others think about race. The curriculum will incorporate the foundational leadership education that Stanford Graduate School of Business is known for — including how to scale your organization — taught through the lens of race throughout corporations. Significant elements will examine the implications of being Black in predominantly White spaces, and how to manage identity effectively and proactively.”

The Black Leaders Program begins with a 9-day intensive schedule of live online leadership sessions, August 9–19, that creates the space and support to delve into the challenges and opportunities of being a Black leader today. Three months of a self-generated personal leadership project follows, with a culmination event on Nov. 10, 2021. The program is designed for promising Black leaders preparing to take on increasing levels of responsibility and challenges as they move into more senior leadership or management roles, as well as those interested in advancing Black leadership in business.

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This is not a program about race. It’s a program about leadership for people who will manage how others think about race.
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Brian Lowery

Through real-time faculty-led lectures, small-group exercises, guest speakers, and facilitated conversations, participants will gain new skills, insights, and approaches to grow as a leader. These learnings will be put into action during the capstone project, a personal career advancement project that kicks off during the live online sessions and continues for three months with small-group coaching and feedback from peers.

“I want participants to leave this course with a better understanding of themselves, to see themselves in the context they inhabit more clearly, and in that clarity gain more power to achieve their goals,” said Lowery. “The course will have succeeded if students learn to see the world around them differently — and in fact expanded — and in that expansion they see opportunity.”

Diversity-Focused Stanford Executive Education Programs

The Stanford Executive Education Black Leaders Program builds on Stanford GSB’s pioneering portfolio of personal leadership training focused on diversifying the top rungs of the corporate ladder. These programs include:

In addition, two new DEI-focused Executive Education offerings launched last year:

In July 2020, Stanford GSB released its Action Plan for Racial Equity, which signaled the school’s intention to create a Black leadership executive program. One of the goals outlined in the plan is to make lasting, positive change toward eliminating bias and anti-Black racism beyond its campus.

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