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Message from the President and Provost

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November 2021

Dear Stanford community,

Today we are releasing the findings from Stanford’s first-ever campus-wide Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) survey. Conducted in May of this year, the survey focused on the individual experiences of community members, and included questions about inclusion and belonging, as well as questions about experiences with harassing and discriminatory behavior. The survey also collected data about race/ethnicity and other identities. Nearly 15,000 students, postdocs, faculty and staff took part in the survey.

The high level of participation by our community demonstrates the importance and urgency of these issues. The data derived from the survey are extremely valuable in assisting us in our efforts to clarify and quantify some of the anecdotal information we have heard, as well as to capture new information about our underrepresented communities. 

To foreground the results of the survey, we want to emphasize two points. First and foremost, the harmful behaviors reported in this survey have no place at Stanford and should never be tolerated. Second, the survey results provide valuable data, but they are not the end of a process. They establish a baseline against which we will be able to measure our ongoing work to improve our culture. 

Some of the findings are very troubling, in particular how widespread discriminatory and harassing behaviors are on our campus and how they have disproportionally affected our communities of color, as well as our non-cisgender / non-binary, trans and disabled communities. This will not be surprising to many members of marginalized groups in our community who will find the data reflect their lived experiences. 

The impact of these harmful behaviors is profound. In the survey, community members who have experienced discrimination and harassment reported a variety of negative effects such as discomfort with voicing opinions, feelings of ostracization, avoidance of professional events, difficulty concentrating or focusing on professional or academic work and thoughts of leaving Stanford. 

We also suspect these findings will be enlightening to some members of our community who neither have had to bear these painful experiences nor have had open conversations about those experiences with those who have. We hope you will take some time to fully review and digest the data.

Survey website

While there are many important data points in the survey report that warrant close attention, we would like to point out four significant findings:

  • Sixty-three percent of Black respondents indicated at least one experience with microaggression
  • Of the 1,313 staff who said they experienced verbal harassing behaviors, 41 percent indicated their boss or supervisor was the perpetrator and 26 percent indicated a faculty member was the perpetrator
  • Nearly half of survey respondents who identified as trans reported experiencing harassing behaviors
  • Nearly half of undergraduates who identified as having a disability reported experiencing at least one discriminatory behavior 

These reported behaviors are seen in every administrative unit and in every school. We are deeply sorry for the experiences of those individuals who have had to endure this kind of treatment. Please know that both of us are committed to doing all we can to eliminate these behaviors and make substantial improvements to our campus culture. 

For the past two years, we have been engaged in a number of efforts to advance the IDEAL initiative in the areas of inclusion and belonging, including the IDEAL Staff Advisory Committee and IDEAL Learning Journey for staff; DEI Strategic Leadership Alignment sessions for senior leaders; DEI training (Creating Inclusive Spaces of Belonging) and Anti-bias training resources for faculty; and for students, a new Protected Identity Harm reporting protocol. These efforts will continue, but clearly we need to do more, and we will. 

We are committed to using the results of this survey to inform our work going forward. We will soon be asking the community to help us take the next steps: to find solutions either by refining or enhancing efforts already under way, or by developing all new approaches. Before taking this step we will need to complete our analysis of the many open-ended comments that were gathered from the survey. We expect to compile and share these data in the winter quarter. We will schedule a series of focus groups and community forums. We also will conduct some additional online information gathering. 

You can read more about our steps already under way and additional efforts we intend to take here.

At Stanford, we strive to create an environment that welcomes, supports, and celebrates people of all backgrounds, races, genders, identities, ages, religions, physical abilities, and perspectives. Based on the survey results, it is clear that we are not meeting our own expectations for the kind of inclusive culture we hope to create at Stanford. We must all work together to eliminate these behaviors that the survey showed are widespread in our community. 

We are grateful to all those who participated in the DEI survey, as well as to those who helped shape the survey instrument and analyze the data. We look forward to working with the community on our next steps to create the diverse, inclusive, and equitable university we all want Stanford to be.


Marc Tessier-Lavigne, President

Persis Drell, Provost