SODI 2017 Kick-Off Convening
September 12-13, University of Chicago

The Science of Diversity & Inclusion Initiative invited select companies and top researchers in diversity to form a “living laboratory” at the University of Chicago this year. This coalition of innovators designed, tested, and sought out to scale new models that accelerate diversity, inclusivity, and belonging in the workplace.


Marianne Bertrand

Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Professor at Booth School of Business
University of Chicago

Iris Bohnet

Author of “What Works: Gender Equality by Design”
Professor at Kennedy School of Government
Harvard University

John List

Chairman at Department of Economics
Professor of Economics
University of Chicago

Katherine Phillips

Senior Vice Dean of Columbia Business School
Professor of Leadership and Ethics
Columbia University

Melissa Thomas-Hunt

Vice Provost for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
Professor of Management
Vanderbilt University

Lise Vesterlund

Research Associate
National Bureau of Economic Research
Professor of Economics
University of Pittsburgh



To integrate practice + research to spark transformative solutions.


Design High-Impact

  • Work in a small mixed team of researchers and corporate practitioners
  • Clarify top priorities in D&I efforts
  • Discuss low-cost, high-impact interventions informed by research
  • Design beta-test innovations that enable rapid feedback and precise measurement of impact

Create Partnerships
& Shared Agenda

  • Build researcher-company partnerships
  • Advance evidence-based solutions enhancing workplace diversity and inclusion
  • Drive progress toward company diversity objectives
  • Identify top priorities of practitioners to help guide future research.

Exchange Knowledge
& Evidence

  • Engage in both formal talks and informal discussions to learn from each other as leaders in our own respective areas expertise
  • Ask the important questions: What has research and experience taught us?; What works, what doesn’t?; What are best practices?; Where must we improve?; What remains unknown?


Day One (Full Day)

  • Featured talks by top scholars and industry leaders in diversity
  • Small breakouts into “intervention design teams”
  • Structured partnership-building activities
  • Panel talk by practitioners & researchers on top opportunities for collaboration in diversity efforts
  • Networking
  • Dinner in matched teams

Day Two (Half Day)

  • Innovation Design Sessions: matched researcher-company teams will design new methods to advance firm diversity/inclusion goals. Informal presentations of (and feedback on) innovative practice ideas and the experiment plan to measure their impacts.

At a Glance