The governance model of HBS is much likethat of Harvard more broadly — a matrixwhere strategy, decisions, and activitiesbubble up or exist or are made at the locallevel (e.g., within a particular departmentor program), but then are hopefully woventogether in service of a School-wide strategy. One of the most significant factors incausing inclusion to be felt and experiencedas a shared responsibility at HBS was the dean early in his tenure naming “inclusion”as among his “5i” priorities (innovation, intellectual ambition, internationalization, inclusion, and integration) — specifically,“to make HBS a place where everyone is able to thrive and do their best work.”The priorities are widely known throughoutthe community; progress toward them is shared annually through forums like the town hall (for staff ) or the annual update (a letter to alumni and the on-campuscommunity). The dean also adopted amantra of “make difficult issues discuss-able” (also phrased as “sunshine is thebest disinfectant”). Questions like whywomen were failing to achieve honors in the M.B.A. program at a rate proportionalto their representation there, questionsthat had been thought but not articulatedfor a number of years, became topics of discussion at faculty meetings, and then part of more systematic study. Similarly,whether male and female faculty memberswere being promoted at the same rate couldthen be examined and analyzed.
It is widely acknowledged that increasinginclusion and belonging requires a culturechange as well as structures and processes.This example highlights two key piecesof culture change. First, senior leadersneed to publicly and repeatedly makeclear that inclusion and belonging arestrategic priorities. Second, they have to provide a forum for having uncomfortableconversations about where we are falling short on our commitments to diversity,inclusion, and belonging.