Campus & Community

Workforce conference stresses tolerance

3 min read

The Office of the Assistant to the President and Workforce Initiatives, Office of Human Resources at Harvard University, recently sponsored the Seventh Workforce Management Conference at the Law School (HLS). Focusing on “Globalization and Diversity in the 21st Century University,” the conference opened with remarks by President Lawrence H. Summers, who stressed the University’s commitment to being the best in a tolerant, respectful, and civil environment.

“We cannot be a great university, we cannot be a university with a great staff, without the clear and unambiguous commitment to the inclusion of everyone in our success,” Summers said. “We must have zero tolerance for intolerance.”

Led by David B. Wilkins, professor of law and director of the Program of the Legal Profession at HLS, the conference discussion addressed crucial management issues including how to create a learning environment, how to create equal opportunity for workers in the environment, and new ways to think of diversity as a value. Wilkins then moderated a lively interactive discussion between the audience and a five-person panel addressing these issues and the panelists’ experiential solutions.

The day concluded in working groups led by consultant Lewis Rambo to develop solutions and recommend steps to address the role of managers, how education should be accomplished, and what incentives, if any, should be used to support new initiatives. Jackie Benson Jones, associate director of the Office of the Assistant to the President and chair of the conference committee, noted that 115 professional and administrative staff from Harvard schools and departments were in attendance.

“Our department is committed to providing the resources that assist managers in becoming better managers,” Jones said. “These workshops provide learning in an environment that is nonthreatening and supportive of candid communication,” she continued.

Started in 1998, the Workforce Management Conferences have the primary purpose of supporting University-wide efforts to mature broadly and deeply on issues relating to the workforce. These conferences provide a forum for various levels of management to hear and share best thinking and practices with respect to the range of workplace issues. “Such provocative exercises support the development of a shared vision regarding good management practices at Harvard University,” said Jamie Hoyte, vice president, Office of the Assistant to the President. “The learnings we have gleaned from these conferences have provided great insight into ways we can all become better managers and ensure that Harvard University continues to be one of the best places to work and to study,” he continued.