Since the IDEAL Learning Journey launched in March to all staff, more than 2,000 have begun their learning experiences to increase awareness and build skills to help our workplace be one in which everyone can thrive and feel a sense of belonging. While it will take time for over 15,000 staff to participate, organizers hope that this momentum will lead to more staff beginning to participate during the summer months.
The initiative is driven by University Human Resources and the IDEAL Staff Advisory Committee, a university-wide group whose focus includes advancing Stanford’s diversity, equity, and inclusion commitments for staff and ensuring the consistent application of strategies for the workforce. So far, the feedback the project team has received from those participating is encouraging, as well as constructive.
Insights from participants
When asked to share perspectives, staff reflected on what the experience means to them personally: “Since the IDEAL learning journey self-paced sections, I have been noticing all the automatic judgments I make about others based on tiny bits of information.”
“No one is immune to bias and we all have room to grow when it comes to checking our biases and contributing to an inclusive community,” one staffer said. “Change is possible when enough people commit to learning, changing their behavior, and holding themselves, others, and institutions accountable.”
Others who have participated in the learning journey have also respectfully called out how the experience could be improved: “A lot of people in my department have mentioned that these trainings provide a lot of information on what not to say, but have trouble with what TO say.”
And they highlighted the need to make the materials more accessible to all staff who either do not have access to computers and/or learn best in their primary language. A cross-functional project is currently underway to design and provide curriculum in various formats and languages.
“I hope the learning journey helps us make progress toward a workplace where we can all just do our jobs and not have any discrimination happening. I've encountered it; it's fatiguing and a productivity killer. One program won't magically cure that, but it's a positive step and staff have never been invited—across the entire university—to join this type of program in the past, so I'm hopeful it helps all of us.”
Ensuring progress starts with leadership
A number of staff mentioned that the shared learning environment is critical to creating real change.“ My only concern is general participation of the Stanford community,” one staffer said. “I am participating because I want to learn about how to combat bias in the workplace and ultimately contribute to a more inclusive community. … I also appreciate that the IDEAL workshop was strongly recommended to staff by the administrators at my school. I hope that staff at other schools have received similar encouragement and I hope that all administrators and faculty also take the time to complete the learning journey.”
Patrick Dunkley, Vice Provost for Institutional Equity, Inclusion and Community, and Executive Director of IDEAL, believes leaders must be visible in their commitment to improvement and expect improvement in their areas. “We’re advancing a movement here, a DEIB movement, and it will take all of us talking, learning and working together to make progress.” Patrick says. He adds his belief that "If we collectively learn together, and take action to be upstanders with and for others, we will make the progress I know we are capable of making toward eradicating racism and discrimination from our community."
To keep The IDEAL Learning Journey visible to leaders for its duration, the project team has developed a progress dashboard and is providing support to help leaders engage with their staff within all schools and units. Leaders will see data reflecting university-wide participation as well as data for their specific school or unit.
“I would like to see people managers and those in leadership proactively share their own discoveries and learning and tuck these in practically into our daily operations,” one staffer noted. “If the only participants/voices are more junior, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and disempowered. … [this] should not be ‘separate’ from our regular work, because it can't be. Time to move beyond the buzzwords and focus on impact.”
How to join in the learning
Staff are able to access The IDEAL Learning Journey at any time by logging into Axess and clicking on the STARS tab (click ‘All Learning’ to launch program components). You’ll see:
- Self-paced learning component to increase awareness: Many options for learning from videos, articles, perception “tests” and e-learning modules.
- Two virtual and interactive workshops to help us increase comfort and skill associated with being allies with others.
You may wish to keep private notes of self-reflection along your learning journey; some of the content may spark thoughts or emotions that can be useful to write them out, plus you are encouraged to identify specific actions you can take based on your learnings.
People managers are encouraged to have shared learning discussions with team members, and a chart with recommended approaches is on the learning journey’s Manager Tools webpage. Managers can also reach out to their school/unit human resources group for specific support.
Everyone in the community can share their commitment to learning more by downloading and using a virtual background in meetings. Visit the ‘share your personal commitment’ webpage. In Slack, two emojis are available to set your status and use in posts if you mention your participation in the learning journey; search for ‘learning-journey’ and ‘learning-together.’
Shirley Everett, Sr. Associate Vice Provost for Residential & Dining Enterprises and Senior Advisor to the Provost on diversity and inclusion shared her encouragement by saying, “People are asking what they can do to make a positive difference, and to me, one step we can all take is to participate in The IDEAL Learning Journey. Let’s learn together how to have a place where everyone can thrive and feel a sense of belonging. Stanford has always prioritized excellence in research, education, and innovation; The IDEAL Learning Journey provides a golden opportunity for faculty and staff to prioritize this same level of excellence for advancing DEIB throughout the Stanford community.”