Advancing Racial Equity: Harnessing the Power of Diversity and Inclusion in Organizations

To Be Announced  
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Lan To
Associate Director, Programs in Social Enterprise
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Certificate Credits: 3
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Preferred pricing is available for groups of two or more from the same company. Nonprofits are eligible for tuition assistance. To inquire, email [email protected].

“When harnessed effectively, racial diversity in the workplace can be the catalyst for creative and innovative breakthroughs and the pathway to effective teams and increased organizational performance. This program is designed to equip leaders with frameworks to diagnose diversity dynamics on their own team and in their organization so that they can intervene to create the conditions for everyone to perform to their highest potential.”
– The Program’s Faculty Directors

Advancing Racial Equity

The program's faculty directors: Modupe Akinola, Adam Galinsky, and Caryn Block

Advancing racial equity is a stated goal of many organizations. Although leaders are committed to achieving this goal, they may not have the tools to turn this ambition into reality. This program will provide participants with an in-depth understanding of the barriers that organizations face in increasing diversity and racial equity, offering a range of solutions and hands-on tools for eliminating these barriers and creating more inclusive organizations.

Throughout this program, we will build an inclusive community for participants to learn together and from one another about issues of racial equity in organizations. Participants will work in small groups to solve a leadership challenge they are facing in advancing racial equity in their own organizations. As the capstone part of the program, each working group will present a plan to address their leadership challenge, while also sharing insights and lessons learned.


This program provides a safe environment for leaders to receive the knowledge, skills, and feedback that will make them more comfortable when talking about and managing through issues of diversity, racial equity, and inclusion.

Participants will:

  • Gain greater awareness of the roles that stereotypes and unconscious bias play in organizational decisions and how they influence systemic racism
  • Learn frameworks that can be used to diagnose individual and institutional barriers that prevent people of color from achieving their full potential within their organizations
  • Obtain strategies to create inclusive climates that effectively leverage diversity
  • Acquire tools to address power dynamics that perpetuate racial inequity
  • Build self-awareness around racial dynamics to increase the capacity of participants to lead diverse teams
  • Develop a support network within a psychologically safe community to help guide each participant in their continued journey towards racial equity in their organizations

Upon completion of this program, you will also earn three credits towards a Certificate in Business Excellence from Columbia Business School, granting select alumni and tuition benefits. Learn more.


PLEASE NOTE: This program will take place in a live, virtual setting. See the agenda.

The program covers the following interconnected topics that will be shared throughout the program by the faculty. To help integrate these ideas, there is a practical application component to the program called the REAL Challenge (Racial Equity Advancement and Leadership), which is also described below.

Topic 1: Diversity Dynamics in Systems
Gain an understanding of the influence of diversity dynamics in teams and organizations and their influence on both individual and organizational performance. You’ll get introduced to a model of organizational change to help you think systematically about the integration of diversity and inclusion into your organization. The various ways we can think about diversity dynamics, including race, will be discussed.

Topic 2: Understanding the Benefits of Diversity in Teams
There has been a great deal of research that demonstrates the benefits of diversity in decisions made by groups and the costs of working in homogeneous teams. In this session, participants get equipped with the necessary logic and data to make the case in their own organizations for the importance of leveraging the diversity of teams.

Topic 3: The Role of Unconscious Bias and Stereotypes in Organizational Life
You'll learn about diagnostic frameworks that provide insight into how reliance on stereotypes results in gender and racial disparities in leadership positions. You'll also learn how a mismatch between stereotypes of characteristics required by jobs and stereotypes of individuals result in bias. Key questions that will be addressed include: How might stereotypes be playing a role in decisions I make when working with others? How can leaders combat these stereotypes in working with others?

Topic 4: How Individuals Contend with Stereotype Threat in Organizations
Stereotype threat is the expectation that one will be judged or perceived on the basis of social identity group membership rather than actual performance and potential. We shed light on the conditions that lead to the experience of stereotype threat at work, learn about strategies that people use to contend with stereotype threat at work and evaluate the costs and benefits associated with these responses for them and their organization. We will discuss ways that leaders and organizations can intervene to minimize the effects of stereotype threat as a barrier faced by women and people of color as they progress into leadership roles.

Topic 5: Diagnosing Diversity Dynamics in Teams and Organizations
Get equipped with a tool to develop “x-ray vision” to see covert dynamics operating beneath the surface. By linking overt behavior with covert dynamics, participants will learn how to diagnose diversity dynamics and develop a systemic perspective of team and organizational life. Developing a more comprehensive diagnosis of diversity dynamics and thinking systemically will help participants achieve more effective interventions in service of inclusive environments.

Topic 6: Creating Inclusive Climates
Research shows that employees who work in more inclusive climates report higher levels of commitment, satisfaction, perceived organizational support, willingness to engage in citizenship behaviors, and a lesser likelihood to leave the organization compared to employees working in less inclusive environments. You will be introduced to tools that will help you assess the extent to which your organization is inclusive and anti-racist. Understanding how organizations implement employment practices and make decisions can help participants identify where your organization can promote greater inclusion and equity. We will discuss the importance of how this work is undertaken so that longer-term changes to the organizational climate can occur.

Topic 7: Enhancing Your Intercultural Competence
While diversity focuses on the “who” (the mix of differences and representation) and inclusion focuses on the “what” (feeling valued and engaged), intercultural competence focuses on the “how” (making diversity work). In order to enhance intercultural competence, participants will consider their own cultural programming. Participants will have the opportunity to engage in individual and small group reflection focused on individual, team, and organizational implications.

Topics 8: Authentic Leadership for Inclusion and Racial Equity
Participants will think about how the intersectionality of their own multiple identities contributes to what aspects of their identities will show up at work. We then use this self-knowledge to facilitate participants' understanding of the complexity in others that they work with. Participants learn the importance of being curious about others’ unique multiple identities without seeing them through the narrow lens of one identity. Participants also learn the importance of sharing their own journey with their team to help create conditions of psychological safety that have been shown to have a positive effect on creating an inclusive climate and workplaces that support racial equity.

The REAL Challenge

Prior to the program, participants will identify a particular challenge they are facing regarding the REAL (Racial Equity Advancement and Leadership) work in their lives. Using self-reflection and peer coaching throughout the program, each participant will have the opportunity to continuously revisit their REAL Challenge and move it towards REAL solutions.

For a complete program schedule, please download the agenda.


This program is designed for mid- to upper-level executives that are new to leading or plan on leading racial equity and inclusivity efforts in their organization as well as executives who would like to become better at leading their teams inclusively and reap the benefits of racially equal and diverse teams for their organization.

The program is also appropriate for HR professionals who would like to learn best practices and strategies for workplace diversity and inclusion.

Columbia Business School alumni and up to four of their colleagues are eligible for a 25 percent tuition benefit for this program. More on the Alumni Tuition Benefit.


Modupe Akinola, Faculty Co-Director
Associate Professor of Management, Columbia Business School
Director of the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Center for Leadership and Ethics

Modupe Akinola is an expert in workforce diversity, specifically the strategies organizations employ to increase the diversity of their talent pool and the biases that affect the recruitment and retention of minorities in organizations.

Professor Akinola also researches how organizational environments — characterized by deadlines, multi-tasking, and other attributes such as having low status — can engender stress, and how this stress can have spill-over effects on performance. She uses a multi-method approach that includes behavioral observation, implicit and reaction time measures, and physiological responses (specifically hormonal and cardiovascular responses) to examine how cognitive outcomes are affected by stress.

Prior to pursuing a career in academia, Professor Akinola worked in professional services at Bain & Company and Merrill Lynch.

Caryn Block, Faculty Co-Director
Professor of Psychology and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University
Director of Doctoral Training, Social and Organizational Psychology Program

Caryn Block is a Professor in the Department of Organization and Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University. She joined Columbia University in 1991. She has received numerous awards for her excellence in teaching. Professor Block is also a faculty member in the Columbia Business School Executive Education programs that focus on leadership development. She has been working with Executive Education programs at Columbia Business School since 1997. Professor Block received her PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from New York University and her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

Professor Block’s research focuses on how leaders can create climates of inclusion that foster engagement and high performance for all members of their team. Her publications include work on understanding how women and people of color successfully navigate careers in professional contexts when they are in the demographic minority, as well as the influence of gender and racial stereotypes on perceptions of leaders. She has collaborated with researchers at the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health to examine the impact of perceived racial discrimination at work on adjustment and with researchers at the ADVANCE Project of the National Science Foundation examining the long-term effects of stereotype threat on women scientists. She has published this work in journals such as Journal of Vocational Behavior, Academy of Management Journal and Journal of Applied Psychology.

Professor Block brings this work to a number of organizations in her consulting practice. She works with leaders in organizations to enhance their effectiveness at managing teams, working with diverse individuals, and creating inclusive climates. Her consulting experience has included work with senior leaders in a wide variety of industries in the United States, Asia, Israel, and Australia.

Adam Galinsky, Faculty Co-Director
Paul Calello Professor of Leadership and Ethics, Columbia Business School

Adam Galinsky’s research and teaching focus on leadership, power, negotiations, decision making, diversity, and ethics. He is the co-author of the critically acclaimed and best-selling book, Friend & Foe, and he has published more than 200 scientific articles, chapters, and teaching cases in the fields of management and social psychology. His Ted talk, How to Speak Up for Yourself, is one of the most popular of all time with over 5.9 million views.

His research has received numerous national and international awards from the scientific community, including the most prestigious mid-career award in Social Psychology. He has received teaching awards at the Kellogg School of Management and Princeton University. Based on his research and teaching, Poets and Quants selected him as one of the World’s 50 Best B-School Professors in 2012.

Professor Galinsky has consulted with and conducted executive workshops for hundreds of clients across the globe, including Fortune 100 firms, non-profits, and local and national governments.


Along with Professors Akinola, Block, and Galinsky, additional Columbia Business School and Teachers College faculty contribute to and teach in the program.


Do you have questions about our live online programs? Please review our commonly asked questions on our live online programs FAQs page.