Skip to main content

The IDEAL Learning Journey completes its first step

A pilot of the IDEAL Learning Journey, which began in late June with 251 staff members, is coming to a close. This fall, program administrators will evaluate the pilot’s effectiveness and make any necessary changes before offering the IDEAL Learning Journey to all Stanford staff.  

The university has achieved an important milestone in its ongoing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy through the completion of the first step of the IDEAL Learning Journey. Its primary goal is to drive culture change and improve the employment experience for all staff.

This effort is part of the larger IDEAL (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access in a Learning Environment) strategic vision initiative. A pilot of the learning journey, which began in late June with 251 staff members, is now coming to a close. In early fall, program administrators will evaluate its effectiveness and make any necessary changes before offering the IDEAL Learning Journey to all Stanford staff.

The program has been advised by three leaders: Patrick Dunkley, Vice Provost, Institutional Equity, Access & Community, and Executive Director of IDEAL; Shirley Everett, Sr. Associate Vice Provost, Residential & Dining Enterprises, and Sr. Advisor to the Provost, Equity & Inclusion; and Elizabeth Zacharias, Vice President for Human Resources. Patrick shared his viewpoints about the initiative, “The ultimate objective of the learning journey is to go beyond traditional DEI training by not just helping to build awareness, but also challenging employees to adopt a new mindset, build inclusive behaviors, and identify actions to contribute to meaningful and sustained cultural change at Stanford. The pilot has been instrumental in helping us refine our strategy for achieving our DEI vision. We are grateful for the participation of so many in this pilot, and their valuable feedback will assist us in refining the program to maximize its effectiveness when rolled out to all staff.”

An overview of the experience

Of the 251 staff members who participated in the pilot program, 140 were people managers and 111 were individual contributors, of which 18 are in a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) role at the university. Pilot participants experienced the learning journey in cohort groups of approximately 80: one cohort with individual contributors, one with people managers, and a third cohort with a mix of people managers and individual contributors.

The learning components included:

  • An orientation session to hear from university leaders about Stanford’s vision for diversity, equity, and inclusion, to understand the learning journey goals and components, and how the program can accelerate improvements in the staff experience and Stanford culture.
  • Self-paced foundation work, with videos and articles to build awareness about self and others on diversity, followed by self-reflective journaling.
  • Implicit Association Tests by Harvard (participants were asked to complete at least one assessment) to provide learners with a baseline measurement of implicit attitudes and beliefs that they may not be aware of.
  • Five eLearning courses and one additional course for leaders (provided by the University of California system), to introduce participants to concepts such as implicit bias, its impact on our actions, and conscious de-biasing.
  • Three interactive workshops on racial equity, facilitated by the DEI vendor partner (IBIS). Topics discussed were: Racial Consciousness, Framework for Race Conversations, and Allyship in Action. Anonymous audio recordings were created to share personal stories from 12 current staff who shared their experiences with racism, discrimination, and/or microaggressions.
  • An action planning session, also facilitated by the vendor partner, to debrief learnings and identify specific actions to take.

Feedback on the program

Throughout the learning journey, participant feedback was gathered, including three self-assessments about the personal impact of the learning; a pulse survey after the foundations work and the eLearning to assess levels of engagement and motivation for the different learning journey components; and three “pulse plus” surveys, sent after each of the interactive workshops, to measure workshop content engagement, motivation, and facilitation.

In addition, participants were invited to form “journey squads,” small groups of three to six, to meet periodically to share learnings, experiences, and insights with each other. More than 100 of the pilot participants signed up for these self-managed groups.

Optional focus groups also are being offered at the close of the pilot program for those who wish to provide in-depth feedback about the learning journey.

Next steps

Although the final assessment of the entire pilot program is pending, feedback from pilot participants to date shows that the majority (greater than 75 percent) agree they learned something that made them think differently. 

This fall, an in-depth evaluation of the pilot will be completed to assess the effectiveness of the experience and to determine any programmatic changes to both enhance the experience and facilitate implementing the program university-wide. Feedback and data from participant focus groups, self-assessments and several surveys implemented throughout the learning journey will be analyzed as part of the evaluation. Detailed plans will be developed to offer the program to all staff university-wide, with additional communication coming during the fall quarter.

For more information, visit The IDEAL Learning Journey webpage.