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DEI Digest – October 2023

Welcome to the relaunch of Foster’s DEI Digest!

It is my pleasure to introduce the next chapter of the DEI Digest, which was the brainchild of the DEI Communities of Practice [CoP]. The DEI Digest team has grown to include not only the DEI CoP, but also our Marketing and Communications Team, for which we could not be happier.

Practices change as time moves on, so look for the Digest to be published every other month starting in October. We’ll send out an email each issue with links to all of the stories and resources.

What has not changed is the dedication of the Digest to share the good news about equity and inclusion events, activities, resources and amazing people at Foster.

Let me express my gratitude to the new DEI Digest team—Kristin Anderson, Megha Arora, Vladimir Bejdo, Samantha Einarson, David Fenigsohn, Randy Hyde, Ed Kromer and Mike Westrick—for stepping up to keep this tradition moving forward.

Go Foster! Go Dawgs!

Michelle Purnell-Hepburn
Associate Dean for Inclusion & Diversity


Celebrate Latiné / Hispanic Heritage

September 15 to October 15 is National Latiné /Hispanic Heritage Month, a time to honor and celebrate the diverse histories, cultures, achievements and contributions of people whose ancestors came to the United States from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The first nationally recognized Hispanic heritage observation came in 1968 with a weeklong commemoration. The recognition was expanded to a full month in 1988.

Significant days within Latiné/Hispanic Heritage Month include September 15, the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Also, Indigenous Peoples’ Day or Día de la Raza, is October 12.

Let us take some time to familiarize ourselves with Latiné/Hispanic histories, art, food, customs and culture—all of which are part of our collective history and current experience in the U.S.

Learn more about Latiné/Hispanic Heritage at the UW, discover Foster student organizations LatinX MBA @ Foster and the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA), and meet remarkable recent Foster grads Rosalinda Mendoza, Luis Vicencio, Cynthia Vargas Hernandez and Suleiny Altamirano.

Foster’s annual Latiné Alumni Celebration

Before Latiné/Hispanic Heritage Month wraps up, join us for Foster’s annual Latiné Alumni Celebration, Wednesday, October 11, from 6:30-8:30 in Founders Hall. The celebration, presented with support from Amazon and Boeing, will feature a panel discussion and networking. This is the space to connect, meet Latiné alumni and build community!

This year’s topic of discussion: What role does big business play in the local and regional Latiné community? Panelists include Rosalinda Mendoza (MBA 2015), co-founder and CEO of Mocel Mezcal; Aracely Godinez (MBA 2016), regional marketing director at Boeing; and Vanessa Osorio Brewster Laughlin (MBA 2007), principal and founder of Banister Advisors, LLC.

Register Here

While this space honors Foster’s Latiné community, all who are committed to supporting and increasing racially diverse business and academic populations are welcomed!

Spratlen family loans painting for display in Founders Hall

The Spratlen family—progeny of the late, great Thaddeus and Lois Spratlen—has lent “Black Odyssey,” an extraordinary painting by Al Doggett, to the Foster School for display in the Spratlen Lounge for Inclusion and Diversity.

Thad and Lois, both esteemed professors emeritus at the UW, commissioned the work to Doggett and were active in its development.

Spratlen family loans “Black Odyssey” painting for display in Founders Hall

Dean Frank Hodge and Associate Dean for Inclusion & Diversity Michelle Purnell-Hepburn welcomed artist Al Doggett and University of Washington School of Social Work Professor Khalfani Mwamba to Founder’s Hall to celebrate the Spratlen family loaning Doggett’s painting “Black Odyssey”…

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September 28, 2023

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“This painting is about a journey,” remarked Dean Frank Hodge. “There’s hardship in this picture, but there’s also success. It is very fitting that we welcome this picture into this space and celebrate the journey that Thad and Lois had on this campus, and the impact that Thad had on this school.”

Khalfani Mwamba, a professor of social work at the UW and one of the Spratlens’ children, was on hand at the installation’s dedication, which preceded Foster’s annual Black Student Welcome BBQ.

“You’ve given me a golden opportunity to posthumously and vicariously loan an asset back to my folks,” Mwamba said. “And you’ve given me an opportunity to teach good stewardship to my children.”

Remembering Thaddeus Spratlen

Trailblazing scholar, teacher, mentor and advocate for equity brought the Foster School into the community

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May 25, 2021

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Foster-led Tenure Project grows in second year

Esther Uduehi, an assistant professor of marketing, co-founded The Tenure Project to raise important dialogues about the issues facing Black, Latiné and Native American junior faculty as they work to obtain tenure at business schools.

The initiative has grown since its founding in 2022, welcoming 140 junior faculty members and dozens of senior faculty to its second annual conference, this year hosted by The Wharton School. Foster sent a large contingent of faculty, demonstrating the school’s widespread commitment to helping historically marginalized junior faculty achieve tenure.

Response to the Tenure Project conference has been stellar. “It’s so exciting to be in a room with people who share similar interests and are really interested in trying to understand how to tackle these major problems in academia,” Uduehi says. “To see such a really supportive room is just so powerful.”

Second annual Tenure Project conference convenes underrepresented junior business faculty developing academic careers

For junior faculty members across the country, achieving tenure is the ultimate goal—the culmination of years of work, a personal mark of one’s dedication to an institution, and an opportunity to lead within the school. However, with precious few Black,…

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September 28, 2023

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Visit the Foster Prayer/Meditation Room

Did you know that the Foster School has a Prayer/Meditation Room? It is located in Founders Hall, room 459. We encourage students, faculty and staff to use this space for contemplation.

The creation of the Prayer/Meditation Room was sparked by a need for a dedicated, quiet place for members of the Foster community to pray, meditate or refresh themselves within the Foster campus. Undergraduate students Arsh Vahora and Mubasheer Joban had noted to Foster leadership that the nearest such room is in the Husky Union Building (HUB), which made it inconvenient to reach during busy class days.

UW Muslim Student Association members Vahora and Joban and president Safa Aynoor collaborated with a team of Foster staff—representing Undergraduate Diversity Services, Facilities and the Dean’s Office—to repurpose the Founders Hall room to accommodate the need. The Foster Prayer/Meditation Room opened in March 2023, in time for the holy month of Ramadan.

Please feel welcome to use the Prayer/Meditation Room. And note the signage, which indicates its availability.

PhD student wins “Business for a Better World” dissertation prize

Ekonkaur Kaur, a doctoral student at Foster, has won this year’s “Business for a Better World Dissertation Proposal Competition” for her investigations of the effect of remote work on mental health—specifically depression.

Her pilot studies have yielded mixed early indications.

“Remote work can exacerbate the depressive tendencies to be more socially inhibited and less active,” Kaur explains. “But it also can provide an environment in which people can feel that they are more in control to manage their condition, and less need to perform ‘surface acting,’ or pretending everything is fine when it is not.”

If these observations hold up under more rigorous scrutiny, it suggests that organizations could view flexible work arrangements as a useful accommodation to those experiencing depression and perhaps other common mental health issues—depending on their condition and circumstance.

Remotely Well

Foster PhD student Ekonkar Kaur wins “Business for a Better World” dissertation prize for investigating the effects of remote work on mental health

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September 27, 2023

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Foster finding: disclosing pay ranges doesn’t always lead to greater equity

A growing number of states, including Washington, are requiring salary ranges to be disclosed in job listings as a means of creating greater pay equity. But disclosing a pay range that is too vast can do the opposite, according new research by Darren Bernard, an associate professor of accounting and John B. and Delores L. Fery Faculty Fellow at the Foster, and Foster doctoral students Joe Croom and Benjamin Yang.

They find that gaping salary ranges signal potential inequity to women—whose personal experience make them most vigilant—and may dissuade them from putting themselves in a position where they may face it again.

“Our results suggest that pay range disclosures, when widened, may exacerbate rather than mitigate gender differences and work against the intended goal of pay range disclosure laws,” says Bernard. “Consequently, policymakers may consider putting more defined limits on the width of disclosed pay ranges or requiring companies to provide more detail on their disclosed pay ranges.”

Fairer Pay?

Disclosing salary range in job listings does not lead to greater equity if the range is too vast

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September 28, 2023

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Reflections of the Young Women’s Leadership Summit

Echo He writes about her experience as one of 40 area high school seniors who experienced this year’s Young Women’s Leadership Summit. Presented by Foster’s Undergraduate Program Office and Undergraduate Diversity Services, YWLS is a four-day immersion into the business world through lectures, activities, networking and company tours (including Amazon and RSM). Damariz Ibanez, a member of the UDS team, is the organizer of the event.

“These last four days were like a dream to me,” writes Echo, who plans to apply to Foster via Freshman Direct this fall. “They went by so quickly, but also felt so fulfilling because I was able to meet and make connections with so many inspiring, impressive individuals at YWLS. Those memories will last forever. I know that we are all future women leaders and will have a bright future.”

Young Women’s Leadership Summit provides high school seniors a golden opportunity to learn, grow, network—and experience Foster

This post was written by Echo He, a rising senior at Skyline High School in Sammamish, WA, who wants to study business administration in college. Echo participated in the Young Women’s Leadership Summit this summer and had an amazing experience…

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September 18, 2023

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Great DEI-dea: read “Braiding Sweetgrass”

Looking to find greater harmony and meaning in life? Samantha Einarson makes a strong recommendation to read “Braiding Sweetgrass,” a book by Robin Wall Kimmer.

The author, a botanist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, shares the gifts and lessons we can receive from other living beings—asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae and sweetgrass.

Samantha says the book “opens a door for readers into a world where nature speaks to those who listen. The author combines science and Indigenous knowledge as she weaves a message designed to raise ecological awareness through simple storytelling.”

Learn more about “Braiding Sweetgrass.”