This Racial Equity@Haas blog series written by three Haas students (Charlie James, Alankrita Dayal, and Naayl Kazmi) is providing the space for us to meet our core principles of being Students Always, Beyond Ourselves, and Questioning the Status Quo by opening the conversation on race, how it manifests in business, and its broader implications. We’re asking Four questions to members of the Haas community in order to illuminate how racial equity in business and Haas is conceived and to stir an open conversation.
ANDREW (Andy) SHOGAN joined the faculty of the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley after receiving an A.B. in Mathematics from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in Operations Research from Stanford University. At the Haas School, Andy served several times as chair of the Operations & Information Technology Group, and, during the period 1991-2007, he served as the Haas School’s Associate Dean for Instruction. In 2007, Andy was awarded the Chancellor’s Distinguished Service Award for his long-time service to both Haas and the University. For his teaching, Andy twice received the Haas School’s Cheit Award for Teaching Excellence (once from the Full-Time MBA students and once from the Part-Time MBA students), and he received the campus-wide Distinguished Teaching Award from the University’s faculty. Andy taught a variety of executive education programs in the United States, China, Thailand, Taiwan, Jamaica, Mexico, and Switzerland. Andy and his wife of 44 years are both natives of Pittsburgh, PA, now reside in Orinda, CA, and have 3 sons, 2 daughters-in-law, and 3 grandchildren.
Q1) What is Racial Equity to You?
“I think it’s almost self-defining; it’s that every race has equal opportunity to everything: education, a path to upward mobility, freedom of movement. There’s an expectation that you won’t be denied anything because of your race, just like religious equity, or any other kind of equity.”
Q2) How do you find Racial Equity Important to Business?
“Most companies are either making a product or providing a service, and from a business perspective, they have to figure out how to market themselves to a variety of racially-diverse market segments. Take a company that – let’s just say – sells milk. You sell milk to Hispanics in a different way than you sell milk to Caucasians. You have to understand that there is a different marketing technique, a different way you structure your ads. Today you see on TV that there are much more diverse people in the ads, and also ads that target a particular race. Similarly on the service side, you still have to understand that the way you reach a particular customer differs by race, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Every culture has a different way of perceiving things and I think a business needs to understand that to prosper. Even if it’s a non-profit or a foundation, it should still recognize that soliciting donations from one culture is different from soliciting donations from another culture. Another basic idea is that businesses need to understand how to best sell their product or service to different cultures, and the only way to understand that is to have a diverse workforce. For example, the Trump administration – there are a lot of ways to criticize it but one of the obvious reasons is that it’s a bunch of old white men sitting around making policies about race and about what women can and can’t do with their bodies and about services to Planned Parenthood and things like that. That’s just the most obvious example, but that example carries down to a business. If I’m Uber, on the service side, or am selling milk, on the product side, I’ve got to have a diverse workforce if I’m going to be a successful business.
Beyond that, there’s the problem of retaining a racially-diverse workforce. A woman I know works for a non-profit that’s struggling with that issue. She’s the HR Director and she’s having trouble retaining minorities. She wants desperately to keep them, but they say, ‘I feel uncomfortable since when I look around, I only see one of me, or I only see two of me, and there are hundreds of other people out there.” You’ve got to retain a critical mass; it’s not enough to hire a racially-diverse workforce. After hiring a racially-diverse workforce, you must create a work environment that fosters the retention of the racially-diverse workforce.”
Q3) In Your Perception, How is Haas on Racial Equity?
“There are at least three levels to that. I see the school both from where I am now and from where I used to be; I was the Associate Dean here for 17 years from the ‘90s to 2007, so I had a lot of administrative responsibilities. I still see the school at the student level, the staff level, and the faculty level. Let’s take those one at a time:
At the student level, Berkeley does good job, but its hands are tied in so many ways by laws that the state must follow, but at least there are students of all races here, but obviously, I’d like to see more with respect to the non-Caucasian races. Going back many years, we were able to admit using race more than we can today to have the diversity that we wanted; the laws passed since then tie our hands a lot. Given that, I think we do as well as we can in generating a group of undergraduate students that are as racially diverse as the laws currently permit.
At the staff level, I think we do an excellent job. If you look at the staff that serves the school at the undergraduate level, the MBA level, the PhD level, supports the faculty and so on, you see a diversity that is excellent.
I think where Haas does worse is at the faculty level. If you look at the faculty, who you see in the classroom, they are not nearly as diverse as it should be. At the undergraduate student level, we’re hamstrung by the laws; at the faculty level, we’re hamstrung by the pipeline, meaning we can only hire what is presented to us, so if there are not enough women getting PhDs, then we can’t hire enough women. Now on the women side I think Haas is doing excellent, but when it comes to persons of color, I think it’s fair to say that our faculty is not as diverse as it SHOULD be, but I think it’s fair to say it’s about as diverse as it CAN be, and the problem there is that we don’t see enough diverse candidates getting PhDs that we can hire from. To be a University like Berkeley, we have to hire excellent faculty; we’re allowed to look everywhere and we cast as broad a net as we can, and if we see a diverse candidate, we will do our best to include that person in the subset of people we interview, but we can only do that if that diverse person is in the system and chooses to apply to our job offers. What we see unfortunately in my field, finance, or accounting as examples is not enough diverse candidates in the applicant pool that we can invite for an interview and who then can survive the interview process and get hired. A nationwide problem for all business schools is to find ways to encourage many more persons of color to enter PhD programs in business and aspire to be faculty members.
How do we do at Haas? At the undergraduate student level, I think we do the best we can under the law. How do we do at the staff level? I think we do an excellent job at the staff level. How do we do at the faculty level? I think we do as well as we can given the lack of diversity in the pipeline of candidates.”
Q4) Please Add a Personal Anecdote on Racial Equity.
“On a personal level, I’ve noticed in my own teaching that I always tend to use Caucasian names when I’m writing examples. I’ve become sensitive to men versus women, so I’ll have just as many women if I’m inventing a problem as men, or I’ll try to say ‘she’ as often as I say ‘he’ when I’m talking about a manager, but when I go back to look at my notes, it’s always John and Michael and Sarah and Ashley or whatever, the names you typically associate with Caucasians. One of the things I’ve started to do is to go back and change my notes so that I have just as many Asian names and Hispanic names and so on. I find myself actually looking up what are some common names – obviously I see the names in my list of students and so on, but I find myself going to Google and saying, for example, ‘Okay, here are a list of Hispanic male names and Hispanic female names,” and trying to go back, while it’s a slow process, and change my notes so that hopefully two or three years from now when you look at my notes you’ll see just as many person-of-color names instead of my old notes that were dominated by Caucasian names.”