Harvard Business School (HBS) and the Executive Leadership Council (ELC) have announced a collaboration to provide enhanced programming and executive education opportunities for the most senior Black executives in corporate America.
The ELC is comprised of more than 800 current and former Black CEOs, senior executives and board directors at Fortune 1000 and Global 500 companies.
The ELC says its mission to open channels of opportunity for Black executives to positively impact business and communities, aligns well with the goals of the HBS Action Plan for Racial Equity, a plan to advance racial equity both within and beyond the school.
“HBS must do more to create opportunities for Black talent to succeed and take up leadership roles,” said HBS Dean Nitin Nohria.
“The Executive Leadership Council has demonstrated the ability to create these opportunities and harness the power of Black talent. Together, we can create a tremendous and unique opportunity for ELC scholarship recipients, ELC members and the HBS community.”
The effort will target three areas: support for ELC Scholars, executive education, and Master of Business Administration curriculum and case development.
The mission of The ELC’s scholars program is to build a pipeline of Black corporate talent by supporting the academic achievement and development of Black undergraduate and graduate students.
The school will provide financial support to the student scholarship program and assist in identifying potential internship opportunities for ELC Scholars at HBS, partner companies and alumni-led organizations.
The two organizations will also work together to create a course customized for ELC members, while also providing them with access to existing HBS Executive Education courses, programs and networking opportunities with executives from around the world, says the school.
Throughout the fall, HBS hosted a speaker series featuring diverse thought leaders covering a range of inclusion topics.
The school says HBS will tap into ELC’s network of alumni to provide support for students.
“ELC’s commitment to professional growth of Blacks in the corporate sector and to leadership in the Black community in general is uplifting and powerful,” Ron Chandler, chief information officer and co-chair of HBS’ Anti-Racism Taskforce said.
“A strategic partnership between the Executive Leadership Council and Harvard Business School would not only cultivate immediate greatness but can have phenomenal second and third order impacts for years and decades to come.”
This announcement comes after renewed attention has been placed on Fortune 500 companies for the lack of Black representation on the executive level.
In September, Wells Fargo CEO Charles Scharf said the lack of diversity at the bank is due to a “very limited pool of Black talent,” a statement which drew ire resulting in a publicly issued company-wide apology.
Following the incident, Scharf pledged to double the number of Black leaders over the next five years at the bank.
Last year, another pledge was made by dozens of corporations with the “The Board Challenge” where CEOs pledged to add a Black director to its corporate boards within the next year.
The Board Challenge launched with the support of companies and non-profit groups like the ELC, the NAACP and the National Urban League.
“America has been reminded again in tragic fashion that we must redouble our efforts to build a more inclusive society. Business leaders can’t let this moment pass us by without playing our part and taking this tangible step to build a more diverse boardroom,” said Brad Gerstner, founder and CEO of Altimeter Capital and co-founder of The Board Challenge.
“As a next step, we are encouraging companies to take the pledge and add a Black director in the next 12 months. The Board Challenge is a movement to accelerate these changes and help companies tap into the energy and talents of all underrepresented groups.”