How Harvard Business School Approaches Diversity
Diversity and inclusion.
That’s what Harvard Business School has been promoting.
In an exclusive interview with the Harvard Crimson, Dean Nitin Nohria says the school is focused on improving gender diversity and addressing deeply-rooted disparities at the school.
“There’s a much more intentional effort to create an educational, as well as a social, experience at Harvard Business School that reflects the diversity of our students,” Nohria tells The Harvard Crimson.
Making All Feel Welcome
The school, according to Nohria, has pushed to ensure that all its students can thrive at HBS.
To do this, the school has focused on reaching out to newly admitted students to get their take on how the school can support students of all backgrounds.
“Whenever we admit someone, [we] approach that person to make sure that they understand that Harvard Business School would be welcoming of them,” Nohria tells the Crimson.
Another way the school tries to build a welcoming campus community is through Peek Weekend, where students can come to visit HBS and experience the MBA program prior to applying.
“Peek Weekend will help participants develop a greater understanding of the challenges leaders face, the many dimensions inherent in the business world, and the impact participants can have on their community and the world through organizational leadership,” according to HBS. “Peek Weekend seeks a diverse group of college students who are exploring career options and want to understand how an MBA can help them achieve their long-term goals.”
Highlighting Diversity a Key Topic
The school has also made it a priority to integrate diversity and inclusivity into its sections, or groups of students who take courses together.
“Every section at Harvard Business School now has the students have elected a [Diversity and Inclusion] officer, they have created a [Diversity and Inclusion] council,” Nohria tells the Crimson. “We meet with that group so that we’re trying to work these issues not one group by one group, but even to look across things that are common across all of the underrepresented minority groups at Harvard Business School.”
The school has also tried to emphasize programs that work to increase gender diversity in the business world. The Gender Initiative is a program that “supports research, education, and knowledge dissemination to accelerate the advancement of women leaders and promote gender equity in business and society,” according to HBS.
“The school saw a need and an opportunity to create more of a community for that work,” Colleen C. Ammerman, the initiative’s director, tells the Crimson.
One of the initiative’s goals is to increase education opportunities and move women up the corporate ladder.
“We take unbelievably great women from around the world and we hope to teach them — during the period of the program — how boards work, what are the stakeholders, what are the functions and responsibilities of the board,” Program co-chair and Business School Professor Boris Groysberg tells the Crimson.
At HBS, gender diversity and inclusion isn’t something the school wants to end when students graduate.
“We had the Boston Women’s Leadership Accelerator — these are women alumnae who have organized a conference where they get together,” Nohria tells the Crimson. “Now we have had one after that in San Francisco, we’ve now had one in New York, we are thinking of one in London.”