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By Grace Carr
Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business is set to offer a spring course on how to reject gender and racial biases and promote an inclusive workplace environment.
Stanford’s new course will help “entrepreneurs create more conscientious companies,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The course offering follows numerous accusations of gender and racial discrimination against Silicon Valley companies, many of which are taking a new approach to work culture in response.
This is the first official course that Stanford has offered dedicated to evaluating startup policies, following recent discrimination battles plaguing major tech companies. Both Facebook and Google have been fighting allegations of pay discrimination, while Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigned after accusations of sexism in the workplace.
The “Building Diverse and Inclusive Organizations” course plans to examine how to “prevent bias from creeping into job descriptions and managers’ feedback — and how to promote stronger feelings of belonging” — with the aim of retaining women and underrepresented minorities at tech companies.
The course will ask students to look at case studies of companies’ attempts to improve diversity through policies, like expanded parental leave. “We’ll study approaches to organizational design that limit unconscious bias and produce more objective decisions across the employee experience,” its description reads.
“This class made me hopeful that more people who haven’t typically needed to pay attention to these issues are beginning to now,” said Colton Heward-Mills, a black student who enrolled in the May pilot course.
“We’re at a tipping point, as people begin to realize that inclusion has to be built into the fabric of the company,” said Fern Mandelbaum, the course leader and co-founder of Vista Venture Partners. She calls herself a “corporate diversity coach,” teaching “Entrepreneurship from Diverse Perspectives” and conducting workshops on “creating supportive work environments” at Stanford.
The course description makes no mention of how it will address prospective employee qualifications, appearing to focus solely on diversity. The class will also not address how to balance the ability to be black or female with the ability to do the job.
The inclusivity theme has surfaced in other companies like Freestyle Capital, which has invited Mandelbaum to lead a panel on inclusion that will look at startups’ commitments to “diverse hiring and inclusive promotion practices.”