Harvard Business School is one of the premier institutions focusing on the development of future business leaders. Despite its pedigree, the school does not have as much of a balanced curriculum as a person like myself would hope. According to former Harvard Business School graduate Steven Rogers, less “than 1 percent of the 10,000 case studies published by Harvard Business School feature black business leaders”. “Of the 300 case studies taught to first-year students at this top training ground for future business leaders, only two showcased black protagonists prior to this semester.”
This news is rather shocking but unsurprising. While diversity is needed in an environment like this, it can sometimes be ignored when a concept such as a business case is introduced. After all, the purpose of a business case is to provide a mock setting where students can develop a best case solution based on the information at hand. This mock setting should be able to expand beyond race and be utilized in many facets. Sadly, this theory is not the outcome. Rogers explained it best stating “Our non-black students need to see black brilliance as well, to counter the narrative out there that the only things black people can do is to entertain and play sports.”
Steve Rogers has the pedigree to solve this issue. Rogers is a “1985 Harvard Business School graduate who returned to Cambridge five years ago after teaching at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University for 17 years.” In the new curriculum, Rogers highlights “14 black executives in a wide range of industries from fast-food franchises and publishing to venture capital and cybersecurity.” With this new class, Rogers is focusing on issues within the black community affecting black businesses.
“Through these case studies — and the executives themselves who attend Rogers’s class in person or via Skype — students learn about unions and the labor movement, how private equity works, and how a company that manages affordable housing can remain profitable while serving the community.” The class will highlight business cases of black entrepreneurs like Valerie Daniels-Carter, “co-founder and chief executive of one of the country’s largest food service franchise operators,” with a portfolio of over 120 restaurants. For Daniels-Carter, she battled with the option of investing in a “national seafood chain and expand the dining options in urban communities” versus creating “new opportunities for other black entrepreneurs by starting her own restaurant franchise.”
Rogers hopes the class will be picked up by other colleges and universities and ultimately integrated in first year course curriculum within Harvard Business School. While still a new idea, I applaud the effort of Steve Rogers and 100% support the idea. Although I don’t normally do this, I would be very much interested in learning more about the course and, if possible, sign up. I think this is a fantastic opportunity for every business mind looking to work with and support the black community. Hopefully we hear more from Steve Rogers in the future and the course can grow from here.