21 Oct 2020

Managing Diversity: A Conversation with Professor Emeritus James Cash and Dean Nitin Nohria


The “Managing Diversity” speaker series brings together leading scholars and business leaders in a series of conversations on the impact of systemic racism in business and in society, the policies and practices that have worked (and that haven’t) to ameliorate racism, and the critical ongoing leadership role that business must play.

The first event of the Managing Diversity series features Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria interviewing James Cash, the first Black faculty member to receive tenure at HBS and a scholar and business leader whose accomplishments range from serving as a board member of companies such as General Electric, Microsoft, and Walmart to being part owner of the Boston Celtics.

Professor Jim Cash: The early years

Professor Cash talks about growing up in the Jim Crow South and pursuing his PhD.

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Professor Jim Cash: Hoops and Positivity

Professor Cash on the adversity he faced trying to be both a basketball player and student, and his understanding of the term “positive intent.”

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Professor Jim Cash: HBS and the 1970s

Professor Cash discusses the tension, racism and low expectations he experienced and had to navigate when he came to Boston and HBS in 1976, and what it was like to be the School’s first African-American tenured professor.

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Professor Jim Cash: Joining corporate boards and challenges we face today

Professor Cash on when he first joined corporate boards and how the challenges we face today need to be faced not by just African-Americans, but by a critical mass of all people.

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Professor Jim Cash: Why it’s hard to talk about race

Professor Cash talks about the difficulty we have with talking about race, based on a lack of trust, and the “long history of a conspiracy of silence” that has created profound differences of reality for people of different backgrounds.

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Professor Jim Cash: What white privilege really means

Professor Cash discusses the term white privilege, which is often misconstrued and misunderstood, and advises organizations to hold listening sessions to help build trust.

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Professor Jim Cash: How can HBS enact change?

Professor Cash talks about steps HBS, and all organizations, can take to help create meaningful change.

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Professor Jim Cash: His personal journey

Professor Cash discusses his personal journey, and all the people along the way that chose to make a difference in their own small sphere of influence, leading to an amazing societally-influenced change—symbolized by how he was treated as a black basketball player in Arkansas in the 60’s, when he visited there as a professor in the 90’s, and then his experience there more recently as lead director for Walmart.

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