DEI strategic plan progress update: following the task force’s work

As we begin the semester, I want to update you on the work of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force, appointed in the summer of 2020 and charged with guiding us toward a DEI strategic plan for WashU Olin. The task force, comprised of staff, students and faculty within the business school as well as subject matter experts from other parts of the university, concluded its work recently.

The task force focused on developing Olin’s strategic plan for diversity, equity and inclusion and the relevant audiences, high-level strategies, and measurement requirements.

In the process, the task force identified a variety of short-term goals among these high-level initiatives—goals that the task force expects to be tackled in the first year. These include:

In relation to the student population

  • Infuse our commitment to diversity in what we teach, why we develop tomorrow’s business leaders, and how we facilitate the classroom experience (i.e., putting into practice Olin’s commitment to diversity as a core value by making it tangible).
  • Engage students to provide more input on DEI and create more feedback loops to gauge/track impact from their perspective.
  • Build greater access into the school by evaluating and revising our financial/scholarship criteria; enhancing the pipeline through expanded outreach; attracting more local/domestic students; providing more support for first-generation undergraduates and graduates.
  • Establish affinity groups at the undergraduate level (similar to our graduate level offerings).

In relation to faculty

  • Review and enhance hiring processes to recruit Black, Latinx and other underrepresented faculty of color.
  • Set clear expectations and develop DEI standards, policies and practices specific to faculty.
  • Develop incentives, consequences, and mechanisms to foster accountability.
    Strengthen retention of diverse faculty.

In relation to staff

  • Review and enhance hiring processes to recruit Black, Latinx and other underrepresented staff of color.
  • Set clear expectations and develop DEI standards, policies and practices specific to staff.
  • Develop incentives, consequences and mechanisms to foster accountability among staff.
  • Create a lifecycle for DEI (from hire to exit).

In relation to alumni and the business community

  • Get alumni DEI input (e.g., establish an advisory council).
  • Develop a database (or filter) of diverse alumni.
  • Develop ongoing communication (i.e., the why, the value of DEI, etc.) to our alumni.
  • Open CEL to small businesses owned by entrepreneurs of color.
  • Open Small Business Initiative to graduate-level students.

For the school overall

  • Form the governance structure (responsibilities, funding/budget, etc.) to ensure accountability for this DEI strategic plan.
  • Conduct semi-annual climate survey of students/faculty/staff to assess impact and gather stakeholder input for annual planning.
  • Conduct ongoing DEI training and development (i.e., in diversity and inclusion, cultural competency, racial sensitivity, bias, etc.).
  • Develop a consistent and transparent communication plan.
  • Formalize annual DEI planning cycle, implementation and progress tracking.

The plan also includes several long-term initiatives and goals, which will be addressed with urgency. I have appointed champions in each goal area to develop action plans (with specific initiatives and tactics) that will move us toward fulfilling the priorities outlined by the task force. The plan champions are listed at the bottom of this note. I will continue to lead this process directly, and the work of our team begins immediately.

We intend to develop action plans by the end of the first quarter. However, I want to be clear that we are prioritizing the need for sustainable change. We want to allow time to get feedback on our plans and distill that feedback.

Finally, I also want you to know that the search process for a new associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion is underway. When I have more details, I will be certain to pass them along.

Thank you for your attention to this process. I appreciate the feedback our students, staff, faculty and alumni have shared with me. I am also deeply grateful for the work of each member of the task force. I take this process seriously, and I am determined to see it through toward a clear, tangible and actionable plan for improvement.

DEI strategic plan champions

Student initiatives

  • Ashley Macrander, associate dean and director of graduate programs student affairs
  • Paige LaRose, associate dean of undergraduate programs
  • Ohad Kadan, H. Frederick Hagemann Jr. Professor of Finance and vice dean for education and globalization
  • Jessica Hatch, associate director of doctoral admissions and student affairs

Faculty initiatives

  • Todd Milbourn, Hubert C. & Dorothy R. Moog Professor of Finance and vice dean of faculty and research 

Staff initiatives

  • Jacqueline Carter Slack, diversity and inclusion program manager
  • Jessica Roberts Martin, senior associate dean and chief of staff

Alumni/corporate relations initiatives

  • Paula Crews, associate dean and director of marketing and communications
  • Jen Whitten, associate dean and director of the Weston Career Center
  • Dorothy Kittner, associate dean and director of corporate relations
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