The institution that brought us the business-school case study, Harvard Business School, was itself the subject of a front-page case study in The New York Times earlier this month. The case study is not about a pricing strategy, leveraged buyout, or marketing plan. It describes a multi-year, organization-wide initiative on gender equity.
A pressing problem triggered the school’s self-examination: Year after year, women were entering the MBA program with the same test scores, experiences, achievements, and aptitudes as men but then receiving lower grades. As a result, far fewer women were attaining the Baker Scholar distinction of being in the top five percent of the class—a prestigious award that opens doors to jobs and career opportunities. Did women’s lower grades suggest something in the school’s culture might still be limiting women even 50 years after they were first admitted?
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" Yet making organizational change is complex and nuanced – and probably doomed to fail if launched with an expectation of a quick fix ….we could not improve our culture without engaging our students in the process. They understand the student culture at a granular level—they live it every day, they own it. And they have been amazing partners: They hold our feet to the fire, and they have undertaken a host of initiatives on their own to improve students’ educational and social experiences. ….
But we aren’t finished: Our culture is a work in progress.