Diversity Questionnaire Response

Candidate for Elected Director

Eric R. Calderon MBA ’13

President and CEO, L-K Industries
Houston, Texas

  1. How important should diversity be at Harvard? What strategies should the University pursue regarding this? (Please discuss specific programs and policies if you can.)  

Diversity is Education.

Diversity and academia are inherently connected; therefore, diversity must be of utmost importance to the school. Diversity of thought, diversity of experience, and/or diversity of cultures shape the quality of education received by students at Harvard. Certain polices such as affirmative action are helpful in creating a class which reflects a diverse population. Furthermore, scholarship programs which help students from low income backgrounds are key towards helping bridge the financial gap that would otherwise cripple socio-economic diversity. Once students are on campus however, the school must continue with policies and programs which ensure diversity is respected and promoted. This requires the school to live its Mission and be unapologetic in working to ensure all understand its importance. In addition, the school should be mindful of the need to build diverse leaders throughout its administration and faculty. Lastly, the university should work closely with alumni in achieving a diverse and world-class educational experience (see below).

 

2. How can Harvard encourage more diversity among its alumni leaders and activities? (If not discussed above.) 

Awareness is Key.

I believe most alumni support initiatives which aim to increase diversity across our community. However, many are unware of the statistics and numbers by which diversity is often measured. As a recent graduate in 2014, I was surprised to learn that a university-wide Latino Alumni Organization did not exist at Harvard. As awareness was raised on this subject, many other alumni were also surprised to learn this organization did not exist. The Harvard Alumni Community would not sit still however, and alumni quickly mobilized to create the Harvard Latino Alumni Alliance. Today, this group has established a strong membership base and is working to unite and connect Latino alumni across the country.

This one example highlights the importance of awareness. Facts and statistics show the truth of where we stand and the efficacy of past/current initiatives. Equipping our alumni leaders with this information is the first step towards empowering them to take more leadership actions.

 

3. Please state your views on affirmative action and race-conscious admissions. 

Affirmative Action is Still Relevant.

I look forward to the day in which affirmative action and race-conscious considerations are no longer in our social consciousness. However, I do not believe we are there today. While this can be a controversial subject, these concepts are core to bridging historical gaps in access to opportunities. As universities develop more first-generation students and/or students from minority backgrounds, the impacts are felt broadly across America. Growing up I never met a Harvard graduate. The Ivy League was simply unfamiliar to me and uncommon in my world. Today, I feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of the Harvard Community, and consciously work to ensure other young students with similar backgrounds to me can see examples of Ivy League graduates early in their lives. Overtime, we will create a country where all students feel an equal opportunity to sit in an Ivy League classroom. Until the day in which that image is rooted in realty, universities should account for race and other diversity criteria in the admissions process.
 

 

4. What do you think Harvard's role should be in creating a more equitable, inclusive and just society? 

Education is our Most Powerful Tool. 

Harvard must be a vocal and actionable leader in this area. As the premier academic institution in the world, we are uniquely positioned to study and engage on subjects such as equality, inclusivity, and justice. Harvard should aim to serve as a credible body of knowledge in these areas by encouraging faculty to research these subjects, share observations, and build awareness in their students. Ultimately, our most significant impact will be sending graduates of this institution into the world trained and ready to lead with a common set of core values. Each of these young leaders will set examples in business, nonprofit organizations, government offices, and in their own community/families
 

5. What steps have you taken to bring diversity and inclusion to your workplace or to an organization that you have been involved with? 

Small Steps Can Make a Difference

I run a small organization in the petrochemical industry and am fortunate to have lived the positive impacts of diversity. During my tenure, we have promoted the first African American female to a senior leadership position. In a traditionally male dominated industry, it is truly inspiring to see her leading the company and to witness her leading in the industry

In 2017, I joined the Board of Yes Prep Public Schools, a charter school organization which serves a 90% Hispanic student population. My original involvement with the Board stemmed from a program in which high school students were brought to my company to learn about manufacturing. At the time the Board only had one Latino. Today, I am proud to share the Board has three Latino members, and we are active in working with Latino teachers, administrators, and students. By hosting an annual district-wide LatinX Conference and by hosting frequent staff events, we are living our goal to not only provide strong governance through our Board seats but to also serve as positive Hispanic role models for the thousands of Latino students and staff in the district.

 

HBS was a transformative experience for me. Since graduating I have taken an active role in helping to recruit and coach young Hispanic applicants to the school. My passion for this work led to an opportunity to formally join the admission’s team in 2017. I am incredibly grateful for the leadership of the Dean and the Managing Director of Admissions for supporting diversity and taking actionable steps to increase the resources available for underrepresented minority outreach. In my role, I get to work first-hand with young professionals across the country that are considering business school. In addition, I have the opportunity to work with key partners and organizations focused on increasing access to educational opportunities. I truly believe that it is the duty of alumni to pull forward the next generation of leaders and am honored to do so through my work with HBS Admissions.  

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