- Harvard Business School (HBS) will work with the Executive Leadership Council (ELC), a nonprofit that aims to promote the development of Black business leaders, to enhance educational opportunities for Black executives and "build a pipeline of Black corporate talent," the organizations announced Dec. 18.
- As part of the effort, HBS said it would provide financial support for an ELC scholarship program that supports Black undergraduate and graduate students. HBS also will identify internship opportunities for ELC scholars.
- Additionally, HBS is supporting ELC's executive education platform with a customized course for ELC members and access to existing HBS courses and programs. The two organizations also said they are planning to collaborate on speaking opportunities and community events.
The announcement touches on a complex topic, progress on which is impeded by systemic inequality. It can be challenging to enable diverse leadership, sources previously told HR Dive, in part because Black employees — and those in other underrepresented groups — often are not mentored, sponsored, promoted or considered candidates for leadership.
Obstacles to advancement drive many such employees to leave organizations entirely. A 2019 survey of female professionals by Working Mother Media found that about half of Asian, Black and Latinx women surveyed were considering leaving their companies within a two-year period. Multicultural women in the survey said that intersectionality made it more difficult to advance to senior positions.
As the HR industry's focus on D&I issues sharpened in 2020, multiple organizations announced plans to improve diverse representation in their workforces. Such efforts were particularly visible in the retail industry. Target, for example, said it would aim to increase the representation of Black employees in its workforce by 20% through 2023 in part by developing pathways to leadership and other functions with low representation. Kroger laid out a plan to support a mentorship program that would connect diverse employees with the company's senior leaders.
For such efforts to work, employers might explore concepts such as "impact hiring," in which they seek out candidates who might otherwise have been left out of hiring pipelines due to historical barriers, a Generation USA program leader, Alexandra D. Rudnick, previously told HR Dive. Organizations also have explored compensation models that encourage hiring diversity by linking D&I progress to executive pay.