Seizing the Day for DEI

Foster leadership establishes strategic priority to incorporate a diversity, equity and inclusion focus into every decision

Since stepping into our new roles at the Foster School, we have established a strategic priority to incorporate a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) focus into every decision we make.

Together with the input of faculty, staff, students and alumni, we have established a set of guiding principles for how we will approach our work in this area:

  1. DEI is everyone’s work. It is a shared responsibility that requires every member of the Foster community to think deeply about how we do our work and how our work impacts others.

  2. Listen first. Recognize that we will make the most meaningful and impactful change if our decisions are driven by listening to our community. Actively work to build structures and pathways for all voices to be heard.

  3. Systemic over episodic change. Trainings and celebrations are not enough to change our culture. We also need to do the hard work of changing the systems that dictate how our work gets done, work that may be less visible today but will have greater impact in the long run.

  4. Progress, not perfection. DEI work is hard, and we will all make mistakes as we navigate the nuances and complexity of discussing difficult topics and making difficult decisions. We will support each other by focusing on growth and learning and extending grace to each other as we try new things, cope with vulnerability and push ourselves outside our comfort zones.

With these guiding principles in mind, here are some of the steps we are already taking:

Expanding thought leadership to ensure that Foster students are exposed to a greater diversity of authorities, experts and role models in our classrooms. We have established a new Dean’s Impact Scholar position to invite leaders from our diverse business community to mentor students and provide valuable strategic consulting on our DEI efforts, and we’re rewriting job descriptions to be more attractive to a greater diversity of candidates.

Creating belonging in our classrooms and community by equipping faculty with best practices for teaching more inclusively, by training faculty leaders to identify bias, prevent microaggressions and create an inclusive learning environment, by diversifying case study protagonists, by creating an active community of practice related to DEI issues, by promoting a DEI focus among student organizations, and by re-envisioning our DEI website to help our community engage in conversations and action.

Increasing access and outreach by establishing the Fostering Inclusion and Diversity Fund (supported by all levels of Foster leadership), by creating a DEI dashboard to track our progress, and by continuing to invest in programs widening pathways into the Foster School, such as Business Bridge and Young Executives of Color.

There is hard but critical work ahead of us if we are to fulfill our commitment to creating a community in which everyone feels safe, heard and valued. We will continue to learn more, work more and keep fostering progress toward these ideals.

We invite you to reach out with thoughts, ideas or input as we continue on this journey. We are committed to the continuous improvement embedded in our motto: Better Together, Better Tomorrow.

Frank Hodge is the Orin and Janet Smith Endowed Dean and a professor of accounting ([email protected]). Christina Fong is the associate dean of inclusion and diversity, the William D. Bradford Endowed Professor, and a teaching professor of management ([email protected]).

Ed Kromer Ed Kromer Managing Editor Foster School

Ed Kromer is the managing editor of Foster Business magazine. Over the past two decades, he has served as the school’s senior storyteller, writing about a wide array people, programs, insights and innovations that power the Foster School community.