Meet the Joint Committee on Diversity

The Joint Committee on Diversity was founded in 2005 and is composed of 6 students and 3 HBS administrators who collaborate to create and implement diversity initiatives at HBS. This academic year they undertook 5 such initiatives. They are currently recruiting new members.

HBS is the most diverse community most of us have ever belonged to. Every day we interact with people from around the world of different ethnicities and races, whose sexual orientation, gender, and past work and life experiences may differ from our own. JCD works to ensure that the benefits of this diversity are widely enjoyed. You’ve never heard of the JCD? Well, here’s how it started, who is involved, and what do they do.

In the spring of 2005, student representatives from the African American Student Union, Latin American Students Association, Asian American Business Association, South Asian Business Association, Jewish Students Association, Islamic Society, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Student Association, and the Women’s Student Association gathered as a “Diversity Council” to discuss diversity at HBS replica breitling. They wanted to create a forum for student leaders to discuss the challenges their members face here at HBS and brainstorm ways to make the school more inclusive.

What emerged from the council talks was a consensus that although HBS is an amazingly diverse place, many people here struggle to feel included in the community, both inside and outside the classroom. To address these concerns, AASU, LASO, LGBTSA and the Leadership & Values Initiative partnered with the administration to create the Joint Committee on Diversity.

Over the past six years, the JCD has found its unique voice on campus. Its vision is to keep improving the culture of HBS so that all students feel included, supported, and valued within the HBS classroom and community. Today, the JCD is a group of five to six students, including standing members from the aforementioned affinity groups and unaffiliated at-large members, plus three HBS administrators who work together to create and implement diversity initiatives at HBS.

Who is on the current JCD? Although some members of the committee serve as ambassadors for the student groups that set up the original JCD, the committee aims to be a voice for all students. This year’s JCD student members are Rachael Gursky, Phoebe Hung, Coleman Radell, Mariah Sheriff, and Nathan Tuggle. They are joined by Robin Ely (Senior Associate Dean for Culture and Community), Laurie Matthews (Director of Community Values), and Maureen Walker (Associate Director of MBA Support Services). Each member brings a unique passion to the question of diversity, and they all share the goal of creating a more inclusive and supportive HBS community.

To work toward this goal, the students meet every week to discuss diversity issues and work on the initiatives they chose for the year. A few times a semester, they will also meet with the faculty or staff JCD members to share ideas and receive guidance. This past October, after creating an activity guide for RC section retreats and helping organize the RC section officer training, the JCD outlined five initiatives for 2010-2011:

1) Reinvent Orientation: The first few days on campus can set the tone for the rest of your time at HBS. The JCD felt strongly that the existing orientation could do far more to establish an inclusive culture. They are currently working with the Orientation Committee and the SA to create a proposal for an intense four day student-run orientation packed full of fun, meaningful activities, opportunities to socialize in small groups, and inspirational events.

2) Improve LHBS: Armed with feedback from last year’s RC sections, the JCD met with administration to provide thoughts on how to improve the norms and diversity sessions. As a result, this year, section chairs tried to take a more prominent role in norms discussion than the L&V reps, and the diversity skits performed by outside actors were eliminated. While the changes were received well by students, the JCD was able to provide more feedback that can be used for continued improvement next year.

3) Create New Diversity Video: If you are like most students, you may well not remember the diversity video you were required to watch during prematriculation replica watches uk. We intended to update it, and Youngme Moon suggested creating a new, more exciting crowd sourced video, which the JCD quickly got excited about. Since then, they have been collecting footage from RC sections and various clubs about what diversity at HBS means to them. With the help of a professional editor, the student-centric footage will become a memorable introduction to diversity at HBS. As JCD member Nathan Tuggle expressed, “It is very important that incoming students get an appropriate vision of how amazing the experience will be here and that they will be a part of a community that is one-of-a-kind.”

4) Conduct RC Inclusiveness Survey: To better understand which factors have a positive impact and which have a negative impact on inclusion at HBS, the JCD has asked first year students to complete a short five minute poll by midnight on March 7th. To highlight how important this data is to the school for informing future initiatives, Dean Nohria has agreed to host a lunch with the RC section that has the highest poll response rate.

5) Host Diversity Speaker: HBS has many guest speakers each week but rarely do they directly address diversity issues. When the JCD met with the dean at the beginning of the year, they expressed their desire to invite someone to campus who could talk about diversity issues. He quickly suggested Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, since he had heard her speak eloquently about gender issues. After months of planning, the JCD is excited to host Ms. Sandberg along with the WSA for a fireside chat with Dean Nohria in Burden on March 9th from 5:00-6:30 PM. She will talk about leadership and career development at Facebook as well as gender issues.

If you are an RC and interested in what the JCD is doing or have diversity initiative ideas of your own, consider applying to the JCD. Recruitment for next year’s committee members is now underway. If you have any questions about the committee or the application process, stop by Spangler Lounge on March 8th between 1:30-2:30 to talk to this year’s student members. Applications are due via poll by midnight on March 10th, with interviews scheduled for March 24th-28th.

As a member of JCD, Rachael represents the Leadership & Values Committee. She is a second year student in Section E.