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Harvard Business School Adds Black Businesses And Executives To Its Case Studies

The Ivy League business school is looking to diversify its case studies.

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Owning a business comes with many challenges of course; all which are cataloged and analyzed through case studies. 

Harvard Business School (HBS) professors have been leaders in creating many case studies, but there's been one problem: their studies haven't been diverse enough. Unsurprisingly, white men have been the stars of the HBS case study show. 

HBS professor Steven Rogers has had enough and thinks it's high time for change. Boston radio station WBUR reports that to fix the problem, Rogers has propsed new case studies featuring black business executives.

"It's imperative that first of all our black students see role models. They see people — great businessmen and businesswomen — who look like them," Rogers said.

In an effort to spearhead the movement, Rogers wrote 14 new cases studies, and is teaching them in this year's spring semester in a class called Black Business Leaders and Entrepreneurship. 

The cases cover a wide range of topics. One features Linda Johnson Rice and her decision to sell Ebony magazine. Another focuses on Corey Thomas, the CEO of Boston-based cybersecurity firm Rapid7, and examines whether or not to take the startup public.

LaTonya Marc, who serves as co-president of the student body, said that the Rapid7 study is important in part "because African-American loans are not approved at the same rates as others. The access to capital is just a huge issue in African-American entrepreneurship."

Above and beyond the issues the cases studies address, Marc believes that the course helps those that come from underrepresented backgrounds in another way. "It's hard to be what you can’t see," Marc noted. "So I think that having representation of someone who shares a background as you, who is focused on solving a problem in an undeserved market, can be really inspiring."

And while this is especially important for lower-income black communities who definitely aren't used to seeing black corporate images highlighted, Rogers encourages other business schools to follow HBS' lead so that these images are highlighted for non-black students as well. 

"When they are the leaders of their companies, when it's a time to make a decision about making an investment in a black entrepreneur, they can say, 'I've seen people who are black who made a lot of money, who are successful and therefore I don't have some personal hangups — I've seen black brilliance in action,'" Rogers stated.

The nature of the classroom has a heavy impact on the nature of the workforce, so championing inclusion is a legit way to go! 

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