Black History Month 2021 (2024)

The Black Lives Matter movement is raising awareness of systemic racism and inequity. In June of 2020, Harvard Business School committed to beginning the work of being actively anti-racist with an Anti-Racism Task Force and Plan for Racial Equity. Below are links to articles, blog posts, and videos describing the work of the School and highlighting the efforts of Black students, alumni and other members of our community to create a more just and equitable society.

Plan for Racial Equity

The dean, senior associate deans, and senior staff of Harvard Business School—along with the entire community of HBS faculty, staff, students, and alumni—are resolved to take the following actions to promote racial equity on our campus and in the world.

  • Process
    The killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020—coming after similar deaths of many Black Americans—ignited a long-overdue racial reckoning across America and in much of the world. In conversations on race in mid-June and beyond, HBS community members made it resoundingly clear that they felt the School had failed to do all it could and should have done to welcome and advance Black talent, advance knowledge related to race, educate students about racism and anti-racism, and engage the business community in change efforts. The School needed a new action plan.
  • Action PlanOur action plan begins with a clear position: Harvard Business School rejects racism in all its forms, and anti-Black racism in particular, as wrong and fundamentally inconsistent with our mission and values.

Standing Together

We take seriously our responsibility to make business a force for good in our society. We know that structural racism has been ignored for too long. We hear the calls for the School to move swiftly to address the impacts of racism on our campus and in higher education. And we acknowledge that there is no quick solution to a 400-year-long crisis. We must all stand together on the long, difficult, and vital journey towards racial justice, inclusion, and equity.

In sharing the diverse voices of our community’s perspectives on race and racism, we hope to leverage our collective knowledge, passion, and influence in support of creating a more just campus and world.

Articles and Blogs

Agents of Change
Since 1915, over 2,300 Black students have attended HBS and embraced the School’s mission to become leaders who make a difference in the world. Through their guidance, impact, and influence, they have shaped the economic, social, and political landscape of their time. Their accomplishments have been felt in the hypercompetitive environment of finance and investment; in the corridors of local, national, and global governments; in the formation and funding of new enterprises; on the manufacturing floor and in the sale of innovative products and services; and in the stimulating worlds of media, sports, and technology. As academics and business professionals, they have mentored, nurtured, and educated the next generation of Black leaders.

While no display can do justice to the breadth and depth of the accomplishments of these 2,300 graduates, we have attempted to highlight a small subset (84 pre-1990 graduates) who are exemplars of alumni who have made a difference in the world.

Can Being the ‘Token’ Give Women and Minorities a Competitive Edge?
Underrepresented professionals are more likely to choose predominantly male or white workgroups if it helps their ideas stand out, according to research by Edward H. Chang and colleagues.

Community Conversation on Race: June 11, 2020
Dean Nitin Nohria welcomed more than 2,500 participants to the June 11 event led by Senior Lecturers Andy Zelleke and Tony Mayo. Following the Dean’s introduction, HBS alumni, staff, and students—Mia Mends (MBA 2003), George Ellis (MBA 1984), HBS CIO Ron Chandler, Chichi Anyoku (MPP/MBA 2021), Ronnie Wimberley (MBA 2021), Priyanka Chaurasia (MBA 2021), and Mike Klain (JD/MBA 2022) —shared their lived experiences in reaction to and in reflection of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and those before them.

Creating the Minority Renaissance for Venture Capital: Interview with Henri Pierre-Jacques and Jarrid Tingle, Managing Partners at Harlem Capital
Walking into Harvard Business School as friends, roommates, and colleagues in 2017, Henri Pierre-Jacques (MBA 2019) and Jarrid Tingle (MBA 2019) already knew each other well. What they didn’t know yet was how their angel syndicate, Harlem Capital, would grow, evolve, and change the face of entrepreneurship over the next two years and beyond.

HBS Leadership Initiative Launches Dialogue for Women of Color: Addressing Challenges and Accelerating Development
A special Zoom workshop last semester brought together 160 women of color from the HBS community of alumni, students, staff, and faculty, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion executives from global organizations, to answer two questions: What can HBS do to accelerate the development of women leaders of color? What are the key challenges and opportunities faced by women leaders of color, and how do we address them?

HBS Summer Fellows Focus on Racial Equity and Justice
The HBS Social Enterprise Initiative aims to educate, support, and inspire leaders to tackle society’s toughest challenges and make a difference in the world. We are committed to the fight for racial justice and to promoting diversity and equity across all sectors, and we are proud to support many students engaging in this critical work. This summer, HBS is supporting a record 161 Social Enterprise Summer Fellows, with many organizations and projects focused on racial equity and justice. The Social Enterprise Initiative connected with some of the fellows to hear more about their work this summer and going forward.

Highlighting Black Founders: MBA Class of 2021In the past few months, the nation and the world have shifted their focus to COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement—aspiring to help while reflecting on how they have historically and systemically failed Black communities. The business world—and Harvard Business School—has also turned their lens towards righting past wrongs and seeking social and racial justice. No single approach has been perfect—what’s important is where we go from here. HBS has acknowledged its failures and is actively working to address these problems via an Anti-Racism Task Force and an anti-racism action plan. The road will be long, and it won’t be easy, but these efforts are imperative to our journey toward racial justice, inclusion, and equity.

Juneteenth Case Pledge: Q+A with Class of 2021's Annie Plachta and Caleb Bradford, and Jan Rivkin and Matt Weinzierl
In mid-June, MBA Student Association Co-Presidents Annie Plachta (MBA 2021) and Caleb Bradford (MBA/MPP 2021) sent an email to all Harvard Business School faculty with an important ask: to sign a pledge. The “Juneteenth Case Pledge,” in honor of the date that the final slaves were emancipated from the Confederacy, asked each faculty member to commit to write a case with a Black protagonist by Juneteenth (June 19) of 2021 (or 2022 if met with serious challenges). Further, they asked that faculty sustain their diversity efforts by having the set of cases in their courses reflect the composition of the student body, as closely as teaching objectives permit, by the 2022-2023 academic year.

Leading Race Work at HBS: From the Back Yard to the Front LawnEchoing the call from Ann Fudge, retired chairman and CEO, Young & Rubicam Brands, “Let the much-needed conversations begin!” exclaimed Laura Morgan Roberts, former Harvard Business School professor and current professor at University of Virginia Darden School of Business, as she kicked off “Leading Race Work in Business Schools,” a Gender Initiative Symposium on Friday, February 7, 2020.

Protagonists of Color Case Collection
Reading about and seeing leaders who reflect a diverse range of racial and ethnic identities is critical for students’ learning and development. The cases taught throughout any course, regardless of discipline or topic, send a message about what leadership looks like. Yet many curricula include very few leaders who share students’ racial or ethnic identity. This case collection, curated by the HBS Gender Initiative, strives to help educators better represent diversity in their course materials.

Racial Justice Reading ListCheck out our Racial Justice Reading List, carefully curated by Baker Library. The list is divided into two sections, “Business and Industry” and “Race and Racial Justice,” and includes works from Harvard Business School faculty.

Racism and Digital Design: How Online Platforms Can Thwart Discrimination
Poor design decisions contribute to racial discrimination on many online platforms. Michael Luca and colleagues offer tips for reducing the risk, used by Airbnb and other companies.

Six Steps to Building a Better Workplace for Black Employees
To support black employees, business leaders must challenge biases and help employees be themselves, according to a new book co-edited by Anthony J. Mayo, Laura Morgan Roberts, and David A. Thomas.

Standing Together: A Q+A with Jennifer Eliason, Associate Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (Part 1)
In this first of two conversations with Jen Eliason, we ask her about her role, what this moment means at HBS, and how we can start to become anti-racist.

Standing Together: A Q+A with Jennifer Eliason, Associate Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (Part 2)
In Part Two of our conversation with the HBS Associate Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Jennifer Eliason, we dig into how to engage in anti-racist work at HBS.

Students Pair with Local Black-Owned Businesses in New MBA Field Course
Scaling Minority Businesses, a new field class in the Elective Curriculum (EC) this fall, aims Harvard Business School (HBS) resources straight at Black-owned businesses in greater Boston. By pairing local businesses with MBA students as consultants, teaching relevant cases, and bringing in expert speakers, Professors Henry McGee (MBA 1979), Jeff Bussgang (MBA 1995), and Archie Jones (MBA 1998) hope to make a lasting difference in the fight for racial justice and against systemic racism.

Summit: Pathways to a Just Digital Future
Technology strives to make things better, but its applications and uses are often biased. The reality is tech can be inadvertently or even deliberately weaponized to uphold and reinforce systems of inequality.

We’re teaming up with our good friends at the HBS Gender Initiative, a team that catalyzes and shares research aimed at eradicating gender, race, and other forms of inequality. Together, we’ll explore how inequality both reveals and conceals itself in the digital world. Our aim is to apply these learnings towards actionable changes within powerful systems. We recognize that this goal is ambitious, but we believe if change is going to come from somewhere, it’s going to come from you — as you train your next machine learning model, design your next interface, or build your next team. Let’s get to work…

Turning a Moment into a Movement: How the Anti-racism Fund Co-founders Are Fighting Racism and Encouraging Other Companies to Do Their Part
In the spring of 2020, Kenneth Chenault (MBA 2019), Kevin Chenault (MBA 2021), Carter Lewis (MBA 2023), Lindsey Ferguson, Nicolle Mora, and Sesana Allen were each pursuing their own careers, utilizing their skills and interests to make an impact on the world. Then they witnessed a series of heartbreaking events, watching alongside the rest of the world as Ahmaud Arbery, Christian Cooper, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade were targeted in public places for the color of their skin. These were not the first incidents of racial injustice of this kind, but the six friends and talented professionals wanted to do their part to make them the last.


Cold Call: Black Business Leaders SeriesView Video

On our Cold Call podcast in February, faculty discuss cases with Black business leaders and issues of race and diversity at the forefront. Hear from Francesca Gino and Jeffrey Huizinga on their case, “Bill Riddick and the Durham S.O.S Charrette,” Tsedal Neeley on “Shellye Archambeau: Becoming a CEO,” Tony Mayo about “Rosalind Fox at John Deere,” and Reshmaan Hussam about her case, “Race and Mass Incarceration,” which includes a story from Alexis Jackson (HBS ’21). Updated weekly throughout the month of February.


Managing Diversity: A Conversation with Professor Emeritus James Cash and Dean Nitin Nohria
The Managing Diversity speaker series brings together leading scholars and business leaders in a series of conversations on the impact of systemic racism in business and in society, the policies and practices that have worked (and that haven’t) to ameliorate racism, and the critical ongoing leadership role that business must play.The first event of the Managing Diversity series features Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria interviewing James Cash, the first Black faculty member to receive tenure at HBS and a scholar and business leader whose accomplishments range from serving as a board member of companies such as General Electric, Microsoft, and Walmart to being part owner of the Boston Celtics. View the videos.

Managing Diversity: A Conversation with Mellody Hobson, Co-CEO and president of Ariel Investments, and Hubert Joly
View Video

"Genius and talent do not discriminate. They don't come to you based upon race or gender," says Mellody Hobson, Co-CEO & President of Ariel Investments. "They are equally distributed in society, but it does not show up in our places of work." This conversation between Hobson, and Hubert Joly, a senior lecturer at HBS and former CEO of Best Buy, is part of the Managing Diversity speaker series addressing the role of race in business and society. The series brings together leading scholars and business practitioners in conversations on the impact of systemic racism in business and in society, the policies and practices that have worked (and that haven’t) to ameliorate racism, and the critical ongoing leadership role that business must play.

Managing Diversity: A Conversation Between Roger Ferguson, CEO of TIAA, and Hubert Joly, HBS Senior LecturerView Video

This conversation between Roger Ferguson, president and CEO of TIAA, and Hubert Joly, a senior lecturer at HBS and former CEO of Best Buy, is part of the Managing Diversity speaker series addressing the role of race in business and society. The series brings together leading scholars and business practitioners in conversations on the impact of systemic racism in business and in society, the policies and practices that have worked (and that haven’t) to ameliorate racism, and the critical ongoing leadership role that business must play.

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Black History Month 2021 (2024)
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