Stacia Jones brings her business acumen and DEI expertise to the Foster School as its inaugural Dean’s Impact Scholar
On March 29, 2021, the University of Washington Foster School of Business welcomed Stacia Jones, Esq., as the inaugural Dean’s Impact Scholar, a role created by Dean Frank Hodge as part of his plan to increase faculty diversity at Foster.
Dean Hodge was looking for a leader from the Seattle business community with demonstrated expertise in diversity, equity and inclusion who would also be dedicated to spending time mentoring and teaching students and actively participating in Foster’s inclusion and diversity efforts.
An alumna of Ohio State University, Jones earned degrees in journalism and law. She went on to work at the law firm of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP for eight years before joining and then climbing the ranks at Abercrombie & Fitch. As vice president, associate general counsel and chief diversity & inclusion officer (global). Jones helped A&F accomplish a 400+ percent increase in US workplace diversity and consistently high satisfaction scores globally on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts including training and initiatives—while also leading global efforts on all labor and employment matters for 30K+ employees in 22 countries.
Andrew Krueger, Foster’s senior director of alumni and media engagement, talked with Jones in advance of her assuming the role.
Andrew Krueger: How has your career been impacted by your race?
Stacia Jones: The approach I have taken to my career is to learn as much as I can, move at a steady pace while making qualitative and quantitative impact, be an expert in as many areas as I can, and have significant positive influence on all those I support and lead, and on those by whom I am led.
One of the main drivers pushing me on my career journey is the understanding that I must work harder to prove that I am capable and to rise above and move beyond the hurdles that individual and systemic bias and bigotry place in my path. So, my race (alongside my faith, gender and other intersections of my identity) has been fuel to push me when I am tired, pick me up when I am knocked down, and propel me forward where there is opportunity.
What role should universities play in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion? Have they traditionally helped or hindered?
For many professions, universities are the gateway. Having a gateway that is wide enough, welcoming to diversity, sufficiently accommodating and necessarily equitable to attract, retain and promote individuals of diverse backgrounds is essential to ensuring that many professions have a pipeline that advances diversity. Universities are also important to cultivating innovative minds that continue to inform employers, institutions and programs on the most effective ways to ensure inclusion and drive equity.
Universities, like any other institution, are heavily impacted by systemic bias that uplifts those with privilege and creates barriers for those without. Those institutions that acknowledge systemic bias and are active in dismantling it, even when that means the privilege of some is not what it could be, are most effective in creating inclusion and equity.
You are the inaugural Dean’s Impact Scholar. Do you like going first?
“Going first” is something with which I have become very acquainted—so much so that it feels normal. I have a certain level of comfort and confidence being the first, but also overwhelming pressure (positive pressure) to create a wide and accessible path for those who will come after.
For many professions, universities are the gateway. Having a gateway that is wide enough, welcoming to diversity, sufficiently accommodating and necessarily equitable to attract, retain and promote individuals of diverse backgrounds is essential to ensuring that many professions have a pipeline that advances diversity.”
Do you feel that a more diverse faculty will lead to new and exciting ways that the Foster School can become better today, better tomorrow? In your career have you seen examples where increased diversity has led to this type of change?
I do agree. Creating diversity in the infrastructure and at the top is always essential to creating a more diverse organization. One of the things I have noticed with organizations that are successful at increasing diversity is the strong showing of leaders who look like the individuals an organization is attempting to attract. Accordingly, if the university desires a more diverse student base, it is necessary to have professors and administration from diverse backgrounds.
In corporate America, we often see individuals who are being recruited ask about the diversity of the workforce and the makeup of leadership as an indicator of how inclusive a company might be and how likely the recruit is to be successful after hire.
In addition, research indicates that women and underrepresented racialized individuals are more likely to advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion programs. Further, a more diverse faculty will lead to more innovation and, as a result, lead to the Foster School’s goal of uncovering “new and exciting ways” to become “better together, better tomorrow.”
You have been a guest speaker at Foster before. What were some of your takeaways from your time in the classroom?
My main takeaway is that I love working with students. Listening to their impassioned, not yet adulterated, view on issues that we struggle with on a regular basis in the corporate world is refreshing.
What are some of the messages regarding DEI you plan to convey to students with whom you speak during your time at Foster?
DEI is a social justice effort to ensure that we all can enjoy the benefits of education, work and life; yet it must be approached as any other essential function within a business. There is a true human aspect to DEI work. But for it to be successful, we have to unpack the business case for DEI, set strategy and goals, and demand accountability and results.
The Dean’s Impact Scholar will either teach or co-teach an existing or new class. Can you give us a teaser of the class you plan to teach in the fall quarter?
The class will discuss the intersection of DEI and the law, and deep dive into the impact of social justice, customer influence and employee activism.