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Workplace Practices: Fostering Diversity and Inclusion

Urology staff photo

The Department of Urology has weekly "huddles" to boost their effectiveness and collaboration.

Our workplace is typically described as accepting, respectful and inclusive with all community members. To continue reflecting these values, Cardinal at Work Insider collected several “best practices” to learn approaches each of us can consider implementing in the workplace.

Best Practices

Get to know your colleagues

Have a “20-minute huddle” like the Urology core administration team in the School of Medicine does each week, separate from their staff meeting, where the group meets to share what is important to each other. Team members feel the huddle helps them work more effectively and collaboratively together.

  • Shahla Haider, Director of Finance and Administration in Urology, says team members share everything from a heads up about the latest research the Urology faculty has published, to key information from another meeting, to more personal viewpoints, such as a movie recently seen.

Share information learned in other settings

  • A core philosophy for Shahla is that we all want to feel part of something bigger than ourselves, so she makes sure to share information that helps her team understand their school’s mission and vision and how each individual connects to that with their day-to-day roles. Sharing information demonstrates an inclusive approach.

Acknowledge differing viewpoints are another aspect of diversity, and support collaborative decision making

  • Recognize there will be differing viewpoints and be open to that. Shahla stated, “I think to be open to others’ experiences and to show respect, take the vantage point of 'I’m curious to know more,' particularly when disagreements occur.”
  • John Ousterhout, VMware Founders Professor in Computer Science and Professor, by courtesy, of Electrical Engineering, offers guidance on open decision making, useful in all work settings, to bring out a diversity of opinions, have open discussion, and reach a decision within groups.

Support employees connecting with each other

At the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Paul Chiames, Chief Human Resources Officer, shares some actions they've taken:

  • Sponsor Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). "We have some active ERGs, including a multicultural group, a women’s group and a veterans’ group. Collectively, these groups have initiatived and sponsored other engaging activities from a summer Green Scholars Program for underrepresented high school students in STEM, a fun multicultural food fest (where employees bring dishes that reflect their culture or favorite food), soon-to-begin mentoring programs, and a new hire buddy program so inclusion is reinforced as a core value. There are many ways groups can come together, which in and of itself helps to forge more inclusive workplace connections."
  • Invite speakers to help educate folks about the importance of fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace, such as a speaker from the Clayman Institute for Gender Research to come to an all-manager or all-hands meeting to share insights and guidance related to bias in the workplace.

Examine and modify work practices

  • Paul stated that at SLAC, a significant focus has been on putting bias-mitigating practices into place when evaluating talent, and they have taken a fresh approach to their people processes, from search and selection (ensuring language in job descriptions is not skewed toward male characteristics, ensuring consistent the same selection criteria is used for all candidates, and slowing down the decision process to ensure a fair and thorough practice). They're also tackling performance reviews, talent assessments, and selection of participants for development programs as people practices that may need to change.
  • In Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE), their focus is to implement proactive strategies and improve process efficiencies. They have recently modified their recruitment and hiring practices to reach a more diverse audience and are developing new training for search committee members, which include a diverse cross-section of the organization to represent employees at varying levels. The training will emphasize best practices for interviewing and recognizing unconscious bias. In addition, under the leadership of Shirley Everett, Sr. Associate Vice Provost for R&DE, a Women's Leadership program is dedicated to the advancement of women leaders. Ann Marie Musto, Executive Director of Human Resources in R&DE, stated, “As an organization, we are thoughtfully planning how to attract diverse candidate pools and as a result, have been successful in hiring diverse mission-critical roles.”

Involve employees in decision making and solicit feedback

Ann Marie also recommends taking these workplace approaches:

  • Find ways to include employees at all levels in decision-making opportunities. “As one example, we are inviting R&DE staff members to provide feedback about our newly modified recruitment process. Additionally, we will be asking staff to give input to decide which speaker(s) we plan to bring in to facilitate dialogue for an unconscious bias training.”
  • Encourage employee feedback often. Effective communication is critical to increase diversity and inclusion. Offer many ways of gathering feedback throughout the organization, such as group and 1:1 feedback, written or verbal feedback, etc.

Have 18 minutes to learn and be inspired? Watch a video toolkit created by the Clayman Institute for Gender Research, “Four Big Ideas for the Future of Work” (18:03). Get guidance from professors and corporate leaders about work practices that foster increasing diversity and building inclusive environments.


Online Resources


  • Look in STARS (in the Axess portal) for training on topics related to diversity and inclusion, such as sessions offered by the Diversity and FirstGen office in Vice Provost for Student Affairs, and by Talent Management & Workforce Strategy in University HR.

Support Services

  • Diversity & Access Office: Facilitation of discussions and programs for faculty, including workshops, leadership development and 1:1 coaching, relevant to recruitment, hiring and retention strategies. VPFDD oversees several campus-wide initiatives that support faculty diversity.
  • Faculty Development and Diversity: Programs for faculty, such as orientation, talks, workshops, and events for new and junior faculty, department chairs and deans, and initiatives that support faculty diversity.
  • Faculty Affairs Officers in each academic area serve as a local resource to faculty and academic staff.
  • Human Resources Managers in each school and unit serve as a local resource to all employees.
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