Part of the university’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategy for staff, the IDEAL Learning Journey is a new educational experience aimed at transforming our workplace culture to be more engaging and respectful, and one in which all members feel they belong. The IDEAL Learning Journey, one of the many IDEAL (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access in a Learning Environment) initiatives underway, begins in March. The initiative is a partnership with University HR and the IDEAL Staff Advisory Committee and is supported by the Offices of the President and Provost and university leadership.

Overview of the learning journey

The IDEAL Learning Journey has been designed for a high degree of impact and is meant to be completed over time, which reflects that our learning about diversity, equity and inclusion is a life-long journey. 

To accommodate on-site, hybrid and remote work schedules, all components are online or virtual. Participation is considered paid work time, and managers are expected to work with their teams to ensure operational needs are met during the time when team members are participating. 

Learning components will be added to each staff member’s “All Learning” page on the STARS tab in Axess so staff can easily get started on their learning journey.

Through the experience, learners will have opportunities for self-reflection, to build awareness and observe role-play exercises in how to have race-based conversations, learn how to apply these learnings at work and engage in discussions with others to share learnings and insights. 

Learning journey components and path

Participants will experience a progression of learning journey components:

  • A variety of self-paced learning components, including videos, articles, self-assessments and e‑learning courses and for which staff have the flexibility to manage the time spent on components based on work priorities
  • Two interactive workshops, one focused on the Foundations of Racial Equity and the second on Allyship in Action
  • Open discussion groups offered monthly on various topics (optional)

The learning journey path is progressive; as the self-paced components are completed, staff are then able to enroll in the quarterly interactive workshops and sign up for one or more of the open discussion groups. 

People managers will receive one additional e-learning course on managing bias in recruiting and the content in their two interactive workshops will have an added focus on their role in managing the work environment. Initially, the majority of the quarterly interactive workshops being offered will be for people managers.

Patrick Dunkley, the vice provost for institutional equity, access and community and special advisor to the president, as well as a strategic advisor to the IDEAL Staff Advisory Committee, shared his excitement: “The results of the recent IDEAL DEI Survey reinforce and amplify the need for a change in our culture. Understanding our biases and the impact of our behaviors, intended or not, is key to that culture change. The IDEAL Learning Journey is the cornerstone to a change toward a community that is more inclusive and equitable, and where everyone feels a sense of belonging. It is also an extremely thoughtful approach to achieving a shared set of expected behaviors across our campus. Key among those behaviors is being allies and upstanders when we see inappropriate conduct or language. We aspire to be one community, and I truly believe the learning journey can help accomplish this goal.” 

Insights from last summer’s pilot

Over 250 staff participated in last summer’s pilot of the learning journey and their feedback was incorporated into the final design. In January, over 100 attended a debrief session to review data from the pilot evaluation and weigh in on the plans for the broad rollout. When asked what pilot participants would share with colleagues who will be participating in the learning journey, comments included:

  • “This isn’t the time to be a bystander!”
  • “I think the course is eye-opening and I think it will bring awareness to many that they have not been as strong of allies as they thought they were going into the course.”
  •  “I love that we are learning the same language.”
  • “I’m impressed with the real changes planned for the program. It’s hard to do with something this big and complex.
  • “Great idea to make this part of our Stanford culture.”

Eric Abrams, Chief Inclusion Officer for the Graduate School of Education and a member of the IDEAL Staff Advisory Committee (as well as the chair of the subcommittee on learning and development), stated, “The pilot participants gave us tons of feedback about the experience, which strengthens the impact of the learning journey to improve our culture. We are aiming to fundamentally change the way we interact with each other. That takes each of us having the courage to stand up to discrimination of any type by speaking up and interrupting harm. We want to make sure everyone feels heard and knows they have a home at Stanford – that they belong here and feel supported no matter their background, gender, disability status, race, age, sexual orientation, identity, faith or political views.” 

Program rollout plan and communication

It will take time for all staff (including new hires on an ongoing basis) to participate; and because the experience is intended for life-long learning, additional curriculum may be offered in the future and will be communicated. 

Shirley Everett, senior associate vice provost for Residential & Dining Enterprises and senior adviser to the provost on equity and inclusion, as well as a strategic advisor to the IDEAL Staff Advisory Committee, emphasized the importance of this experience, stating, “The IDEAL Learning Journey is a key ingredient to advancing Stanford’s DEI goals.”

A digital invitation will be sent when The IDEAL Learning Journey is open. Detailed information is on the Cardinal at Work website.