An Update on our work to improve Inclusion and Diversity at the Foster School

Dear Foster Community,

In July, Christina officially assumed her role as Foster’s Associate Dean of Inclusion and Diversity. She immediately joined other leaders at Foster in a multi-day strategic retreat to assess our purpose and strategic priorities.  One of the priorities that emerged was incorporating an inclusion, diversity and equity focus into every decision we make. Below, we provide an update on some of the work that we have been doing towards this strategic priority.

Together, we have established a set of guiding principles for how we will approach our work in this area:

Foster Dean Frank Hodge and Associate Dean for Inclusion and Diversity Christina Fong

DEI is everyone’s work. DEI is not the work of a few folks within the organization but is rather 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.

Listen first. As we do this work together, let’s begin by listening and recognizing that we will make the most meaningful and impactful change if our decisions are driven by listening to our community. We are actively working to build structures and pathways for all voices in the Foster community to be heard and acknowledged.

Systemic over episodic change. It is tempting to try to change our culture via events such as trainings and celebrations. While events are important in building knowledge and community, they are not enough. We also need to do the hard work of thinking about the systems that dictate how our work gets done. This work often feels less visible in the short term but will have greater impact in the long run.

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. Let’s all support each other by focusing on growth and learning and extending grace to each other as we try new things, make ourselves more vulnerable, and push ourselves out of our comfort zones.

With these guiding principles in mind, we wanted to share some of the steps that we have taken along our DEI journey over the summer.

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 position, the Deans Impact Scholar to invite leaders from our diverse business community to join us as a visiting faculty member. While they are at Foster, these Impact scholars will spend time mentoring and teaching students and will also provide valuable strategic consulting on our DEI efforts. We are actively recruiting for this position now.
  • In addition, for all of our faculty searches, we are rewriting job descriptions to be more attractive to a greater diversity of applicants.

 

CREATING BELONGING in our classrooms and community

  • As part of our annual teaching best practices forum, all faculty have received a set of resources designed to equip them to teach more inclusively. These resources include training on the usage of Canvas NameCoach which helps our faculty pronounce student names more accurately, anti-racism resources, and information about how to facilitate more equitable and inclusive classroom/virtual discussions.
  • Six Foster faculty have joined faculty from the Evans School and the iSchool in a six week long seminar focused on inclusive teaching practices. Topics include identifying bias in curriculum selection, identity-based microaggressions in the classroom and creating an inclusive classroom environment.
  • We have begun a systematic audit of the cases that are being taught in Foster classrooms to evaluate the diversity of case protagonists featured in course content. This study has begun with the full time MBA program, with plans to expand to additional programs soon.
  • Foster staff and faculty have created a self-organized Community of Practice (CoP) to share resources, news and best practices related to DEI. The CoP is working on planning some events and DEI trainings for the Fall quarter, curating a hub of resources on the Foster Intranet, facilitating a DEI book club, and supporting Affinity groups for BIPOC staff. The CoP has members from almost every program and unit within Foster.
  • Many student groups have dedicated programming during their Orientation sessions to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and this programming is designed to continue throughout the student experience.
  • We have created two dynamic resources to help our community engage in conversations about DEI- a glossary of commonly used DEI terms and a set of DEI resources. We encourage you to check each of these out and provide your input.

 

INCREASING ACCESS AND OUTREACH

  • We have established the new “Fostering Inclusion and Diversity Fund” to support our work towards increasing access, diversifying our faculty, and creating belonging. To demonstrate our commitment, the Foster leadership, including all Deans and Department Chairs have made donations to seed this new fund so that it can create meaningful impact sooner rather than later.
  • We have begun work on the creation of a “DEI Dashboard” to track metrics on our progress towards being a more diverse community.
  • We continue to invest in programs that will widen pathways into the Foster School For instance, the Business Bridge program, which supports under-represented minority students in their first year of college just completed its 10th program and the Young Executives of Color, a college pipeline program for high school students in Washington state, launches their 14th cohort this fall.

The announcement that that no one would be charged in the tragic death of Breonna Taylor serves as a reminder of the work we have to do in fulfilling 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 towards these ideals. We invite each of you to reach out with thoughts, ideas or input as we continue on this journey; we are committed to the incremental improvement embedded in our “Better Together, Better Tomorrow” motto. THANK YOU for all that you do to help us towards our goals!

Kind regards,

Frank Hodge (Dean) and Christina Fong (Associate Dean for Inclusion and Diversity)