Adina D. Sterling
Adina D. Sterling joined Columbia Business School in 2023 as the Katherine Phillips Associate Professor of Business in the Management Division. Adina’s research advances an understanding of how inequality persists in labor markets and workplaces, despite the efforts of many leaders to create fair and equitable organizations. In particular, her work demonstrates the various ways labor markets and hiring processes lead societal inequalities to be maintained and reinforced. For example, her work indicates how organizational behaviors such as employee turnover are not only affected by internal factors within organizations (such as employee satisfaction), but factors outside of organizations such as proximity to reliable transportation. These societal factors often cut across racial, class, and gender lines. Her research has been published in numerous top management journals (e.g., Administrative Science Quarterly, Management Science, Organization Science) and science journals (e.g., PNAS), as well as covered by many media outlets (e.g., the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Business Insider, and Fast Company).
In 2018, Adina founded the Equity by Design Lab (EBDL) while she was at Stanford University. As director of the lab she works with doctoral students, postdocs, and pre-doctoral students to work on solving problems related to workplace and labor market inequality. Researchers in the EBDL use a mix of methods, including archival data analyses, longitudinal surveys, interviews, field and laboratory experiments and computational techniques, to uncover mechanisms generating inequality that are often hidden from view. To learn how to address these inequalities, she creates academic and industry partnerships that focus on the ways workplace inequality can be reduced.
Adina has taught MBA, PhD, executive, and undergraduate courses, as well as consulted and trained employees at companies including at firms in high tech, venture capital, and law. While at Stanford she developed a very popular MBA elective titled, Equity by Design: How to Build Diverse and Inclusive Organizations. In her teaching she uses a ‘bench-to-classroom’ approach that actively integrates her own academic research and that of other scholars on hiring, promotions, evaluation, and networks to help students design organizations more equitably. Pedagogically, she develops new frameworks (e.g., “Go to the MAT: Merit, Accountability, Transparency”), publishes scholarly translation articles (e.g., Harvard Business Review), and create experiential exercises, to enhance students’ learning across diverse learning modes.
Prior to getting a PhD, Adina worked for five years at Procter and Gamble as a senior engineer, working on the development of consumer products. She received her PhD from Goizueta Business School at Emory University in Organization and Management in 2011. She was on the faculty at Washington University’s Olin Business School from 2011-2015, and Stanford University from 2015-2023.