Haas Takes Leading Role in Diversity

A working group of nearly 40 Haas staff and faculty members kicked off an effort this fall to weave equity, inclusion, and diversity into the fabric of the business school's programs.

Berkeley-Haas is the largest of nine pilot academic units selected to craft a strategic plan on equity, inclusion, and diversity.

The Haas plan, scheduled to be completed in August 2011, will tie into the UC Berkeley Strategic Plan for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity, which was released in 2009 as part of a 10-year initiative funded by a $16 million gift from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund.

"The UC Berkeley Strategic Plan on Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity is a blueprint for the campus, but we all know that diversity efforts also must be initiated at the school and department level," says Sheila O'Rourke, UC Berkeley's assistant provost for academic affairs. "What the Haas School does will be a model for the rest of campus."

Long-term goals of the UC Berkeley plan–and the Haas plan by extension–include a demonstration of the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate and lead in a diverse world by everyone on campus; an elimination of intergroup disparities in enrollment, retention, and graduation rates; and diversity among faculty and staff.

"We must ensure that everybody who is qualified to contribute at Haas is given access where it is earned," says Haas Dean Rich Lyons. "We want to make sure that we are delivering the kinds of welcomes that everyone in this community deserves to be afforded."

The effort at Haas is different from others in the past because of its backing by central campus, says dean's analyst Susie Jordan, who launched the process before her maternity leave. "We've never had that orientation, support, or coordination before," Jordan says.

Jo Mackness, MBA 04, executive director of the Center for Responsible Business, took over the project in Jordan's absence. She adds that Haas helping to pilot the process on campus makes sense because diversity, equity, and inclusion are integral components of the Haas School's culture and directly allign with the school's defining principles, particularly Question the Status Quo and Beyond Yourself." "This is part of who we are as a school," Mackness says.

Subcommittees addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion at Haas from different viewpoints–from faculty and staff to admissions and alumni experiences–will report on preliminary recommendations and get feedback from the entire working group in February. A faculty subcommittee, for instance, is focusing on strategies to close a gap in gender and underrepresented minorities, says Professor Laura Kray, the subcommittee's chairperson.

Haas already has developed several strategies to increase diversity and become more inclusive. One of the most recent steps was rejoining the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management to Foster Diversity early this year.

If you have suggestions for the Haas Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Working Group, please contact Jo Mackness at [email protected] or 642-6099.