In its second year, the Culture and Community Initiative continued its analysis and evaluation of HBS culture to identify areas and means of improvement. The ultimate goal is to cultivate an environment where all can thrive and reach their potential for advancing the Schoolís mission. In the process, HBS is building its capacity for open, constructive dialogue on difficult cultural matters. As a faculty culture study based on 130 interviews and a faculty survey near completion, their draft findings are being reviewed. A staff study will follow.
A recent focus was a student culture study, which investigated differences in studentsí experience and academic performance along the lines of gender, race, native language, and sexual orientation. The study identified mechanisms that might explain such differences, including stereotypes and section dynamics. While it is evident that differences persist, the gender gap in grades has closed in the last two years and the gender gap in student satisfaction appears to be narrowing. These positive trends are tied to measures that the School has implemented in the last few years, such as heightening faculty consciousness of potential bias in grading, a redesigned MBA Program orientation, an expanded pedagogy with the FIELD curriculum, and the introduction of a new Honor Code that is clearer and more explicit, as well as course material that addresses gender issues among students both in and outside the classroom.
The Culture and Community Initiative, led by faculty chair Robin Ely, provides a broad framework for exploration beyond the immediate campus culture. A new study is being launched of alumni careers and life decisions, and the topic of women and leadership, long a subject of faculty research, is a current focus of curriculum development. These projects will feed into the celebration of Women at HBS in 2012—2013, commemorating the 50th anniversary of women studentsí admission to the two-year MBA Program.
LGBT students at HBS contributed to the It Gets Better Project. The LGBT Student Association produced a video in which HBS students recall their own experiences with "coming out" during their teenage years and how their lives have improved since they decided to do so. Dean Nitin Nohria ends the video discussing inclusion at HBS. The HBS production joins the more than 50,000 other user-created videos—collectively viewed more than 50 million times—at www.itgetsbetter.org.