May 20, 2024

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Here’s How Harvard Business School Plans to Advance Racial Equality

In an effort to promote racial equality, Harvard Business School said it would boost its enrollment of Black students in future classes, hire a chief diversity officer and recruit more Black faculty and staff. The school plans to build more issues of race and diversity into its case-study method of teaching and make conversations about race a higher priority in its curriculum, it said last week.

1. The school recently acknowledged past missteps involving race.

In June, following the national outcry stemming from George Floyd’s death while in police custody, Nitin Nohria, dean of the school, wrote a letter that said past efforts to recruit Black students to Harvard were insufficient. “I apologize that we have not fought racism as effectively as we could have,” he wrote.

2. The number of Black M.B.A. students at the school has stagnated.

For three decades the number of Black students on the program has stayed the same, at around 50 people per class, or roughly 5% of enrollment, Nohria said in the letter. M.B.A. programs across the country have struggled to attract greater numbers of Black students for the past 10 years, with the national average stalled under 10% of enrollment.

3. The school plans to broaden its outreach.

The new plan, announced last Wednesday, calls for collaborations between Harvard Business School professors and faculty at historically Black colleges and universities, although it didn’t indicate what that relationship would look like. Harvard said it would pledge $25 million over 10 years and seek additional support from donors to fund the new measures on race. The school said it can recruit more underrepresented minority students by increasing scholarships and expanding outreach efforts to prospective students while they are still undergraduates.

4. The plan has drawn some criticism.

Alterrell Mills, a 2016 M.B.A. graduate and former co-president of the HBS African American Student Union, said the plan lacks specificity. He said that talk of recruiting more Black students and staff doesn’t address existing internal obstacles, such as the retention of Black professors. He added that the school’s measures fall short of the racial initiatives Stanford’s Graduate School of Business released earlier this summer, which he said included more firm commitments, including two new courses on racial injustice and creating a Black business leadership executive education program.

Read the original article by Patrick Thomas here.

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