by VERNĀ MYERS
Originally published: May 24, 2017
Last week Dean Nitin Nohria of Harvard Business School penned an editorial for the Washington Post on how diversity fails without inclusion. I appreciate how hard it must have been to go public on a subject that seems controversial to some: the lack of respect and equal opportunity for people of all backgrounds that still pervades our most august institutions. As a Black woman from working-class Baltimore and a Harvard-trained lawyer and Barnard alumna, I have my own experiences in elite and majority white-male educational and corporate institutions. I realize it’s especially hard for “the Asian Dean” of HBS to say such, because people of color who have “made it” are supposed to be grateful and not complain. We are supposed to be evidence that all is right with the world.
But that’s simply not the case. As an expert in the field for over 20 years, what is clear to me — from meeting with young people who are surprised by both the lack of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) on their campuses and workplaces — is that our institutions need to step it up. D&I is not a controversial subject to most young folks; it is assumed and expected. If organizations like Harvard Business School are going to remain leaders in their fields, they must commit to transforming their cultural norms and systems.