Haas Dean Ann Harrison this week signed The CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion pledge, joining 50 academic institutions and more than 750 CEOs supporting the sweeping national diversity commitment.
Through the pledge, spearheaded by accounting & consulting firm PwC, Harrison agreed to create environments that support open discussions about diversity and inclusion; to implement and expand unconscious bias education; and to share both successful—and unsuccessful—actions with members and the broader community.
“When I arrived at Haas, I realized that the school did not reflect the diversity of the surrounding community, and this pledge is part of my ongoing commitment to change that,” Harrison said. “Through this new initiative, we’ll continue to move forward in implementing best practices that will help take our DEI [diversity, equity, and inclusion] efforts to the next level.”
At the signing, three PwC partners, who are also UC Berkeley alumni, joined Harrison: Jane C. Allen, BS 95 (College of Natural Resources), PwC firm relationship partner for UC Berkeley recruiting; Kevin Schwartz, MBA 98, the PwC liaison for recruiting for the Berkeley MBA program; and Laura Martinez, MBA 89.
“We’re thrilled that we’re having this meeting today to start the conversation,” Martinez said. Allen said Haas’ pledge is about sharing what’s worked at the university level. “A plan is in place,” she said. “We can talk about facilitating the plan and the tools that we have that can be leveraged and what Haas would be willing to share with others.”
A focus on both companies and universities
PwC launched the CEO Action initiative in 2017 after the company’s U.S. Chairman Tim Ryan initiated a series of companywide conversations about race.
Today, the effort continues to expand, addressing diversity and inclusion on behalf of groups including African Americans, Latinx, Asians, Native Americans, LGBTQ, people with disabilities, veterans, and women.
CEO Action focuses on both companies and universities, with a President’s Circle and a university-focused corporate working group. Both are working to adapt the pledge to higher education by engaging faculty and staff, and discussing campus programming, including a CEO speaker series, recruiting events, and a “Check Your Blind Spots” mobile tour that helps students explore the concept of unconscious bias —everything from poor hiring techniques to how people decide who to sit next to in public spaces. “The mobile tour brings home the issue of diversity,” PwC’s Schwartz said. “It’s a great immersive experience and we’re hoping to find a time to get it to Haas.”
Other universities that have signed the CEO Action pledge include Cornell, Duke, Penn State, Texas A&M, Ohio State, the University of Michigan, and Georgetown.
Harrison’s pledge builds on ongoing DEI initiatives at Haas. Last October, the school delivered an action plan that outlined specific ways to bolster enrollment of underrepresented minorities and to develop a more inclusive environment schoolwide. Efforts in the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Action Plan included increasing overall scholarship money for underrepresented minority students and adding a question on the MBA application to include a student’s experience in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion.