Ross Commitment to Action

June 10, 2020

Like you, I remain heartbroken, sad, and angry over the senseless murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, among too many others. I also recognize these recent events are the latest in what has been many years of systemic racism and violence in our society, and we must come together and identify actions we can take to create real and lasting change.
 
I want to thank our Black Business Student Association for their call to action and for their partnership in working together towards change. As your Dean, I stand with you in solidarity and am deeply committed to working together. I also want to express my gratitude to our student leaders, faculty and staff leadership, DEI team, and alumni who have shared their experiences with me, their wisdom, and their time and talents as we develop our Ross Commitment to Action to end racism and advance racial justice in business and beyond.
 
Below is our Ross Commitment to Action. Some of these actions were previously implemented and ongoing, and some of these actions will be implemented in the weeks ahead. In addition, we will add actions to our Ross Commitment to Action as we work with our students, faculty, staff, and alumni to identify additional needs and opportunities. Importantly, our Ross Commitment to Action will evolve over time, align with our DEI strategic plan, and serve as a roadmap for shared accountability so that we sustain our commitment over time.

Leadership

Diversify the Ross School leadership team.

Beginning July 1, 50% of my direct reports will be women or minorities. We have also increased representation of the LGBTQ community, increased national and cultural diversity, and embraced a diverse set of religious beliefs and political affiliations.

Elevate diverse voices in Ross School leadership.

Effective immediately, I am creating a Dean’s Council for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion that will be composed of students, faculty, staff, and alumni. This Council will be my primary advisory group for DEI-related initiatives and priorities, establishing goals and tracking progress with visible metrics and reporting, and mobilizing people and resources to ensure we achieve our shared goals. Founding members of the Council will include Ross Professor Scott Page and alumni Tamika Curry-Smith and Robin Washington. Along with representation from our Ross DEI team, we will be adding to the Council additional faculty, staff, and student leaders from our undergraduate and graduate programs.

Teaching and Learning

Create a DEI Curriculum Taskforce.

Beginning July 1, we will establish a new curriculum task force that will be charged with looking at DEI broadly, and race specifically, in Ross School courses and co-curricular activities. The scope of this task force will include but not be limited to case studies used in class, the topics discussed in class, the composition of panels and speaker events, and the many workshops we offer through our academic programs, Centers and Institutes, and corporate partners. Professors Tom Buchmueller and David Wooten, who will both serve on the Ross School leadership team beginning July 1, will co-chair this task force. The task force will include students, faculty, and staff, and we will seek input from leaders across the school about the process we use to identify candidates.

Create new courses focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The DEI curriculum task force will identify ways to enhance diversity in our courses and co-curricular offerings. In addition, we will expand our DEI course offerings. This week, for example, the Ross School and U-M’s Office of Academic Innovation announced a new online course initiative led by Ross Professor Lindy Greer titled Leading Diverse and Inclusive Teams and Organizations.

Launch a speaker series focused on race in business.

The Ross School’s Business & Society speaker series for 2020-21 will focus on race in business. Planning will commence in July, and the organizing team will consist of students, faculty, and staff.

Expand representation of minority-owned businesses.

We will increase the number of minority-owned businesses represented in our action-based learning portfolio (e.g., MAP projects), entrepreneurship programs, and student recruitment activities.

Expand inclusive teaching programs.

 In addition to our current opt-in inclusive teaching workshops and programs, which have engaged 35% of our faculty, we will add programs that are tailored to each academic area and increase overall participation.

HR Policies and Practices

Mandatory DEI training.

All faculty and staff who are engaged in recruiting of new faculty and staff must engage in DEI training prior to beginning the recruitment process.

Expand unconscious bias training.

We are increasing the number of unconscious bias training sessions for Ross faculty and staff.

Continue emphasizing DEI in faculty performance.

Three years ago, we incorporated DEI formally into faculty activity reports and annual evaluations. Last year, over 50% of Ross faculty reported DEI-related contributions, and we will continue emphasizing the importance of these contributions in the years ahead.

Diversity and Inclusion in Our Community

Develop the next generation of faculty.

We will expand our current PhD bridge program and work to attract, develop and retain more diverse PhD students and faculty.

Expand support for diverse students.

We will expand support for our Ross School outreach programs, increase scholarship support for students, and work to elevate student voices in the Ross School and beyond. To this end, we plan to announce several new philanthropic gifts and student support programs in the coming weeks.

Ross School Operations

Diversify the Ross School supply chain.

We launched and will continue an initiative to examine the Ross School’s supply chain, with an explicit goal of increasing the number of minority- and women-owned businesses represented among our preferred suppliers and vendors.

Personal Development

Develop personal action plans.

Real change must begin with ourselves. As leaders, professionals, and human beings, we all have room to learn and grow. For me personally, I am developing my own action plan for how I can improve my knowledge and understanding of identity, race, justice, and the experience of marginalized communities. I am also asking everyone on my leadership team to do the same. Our team will then set aside time to talk through our action plans and lessons learned.

In this spirit of personal development, below are a few articles and resources that I have found immensely helpful. I share them with you in the hope that you too will find them helpful.

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism
Between the World and Me
Race Work and Leadership
How you can be an ally in the fight for racial justice
Bryan Stevenson: We need to talk about an injustice | TED Talk

I also invite you to join a conversation hosted by the Michigan Ross Center for Positive Organizations on June 16, titled Race, Justice, and Equity in the Workplace and Beyond: A Call to Action.

In closing, you can and should expect more from us. We hear you. We support you. And we share your values and ideals. Our Ross Commitment to Action is not the beginning, but it is an important next step in our commitment to ending racism, promoting justice, and fostering a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community at the Ross School and beyond. Together, we will create real and lasting change.

Sincerely, 

Scott DeRue
Edward J. Frey Dean
Stephen M. Ross Professor of Business