Will a fellowship for students from Historically Black Colleges help diversify business?


Search top executives at Fortune 500 companies, and you’ll see mostly white men. The US workforce lacks racial and gender diversity, and countless studies confirm racial and gender biases as well as structural inequalities shut doors, especially to African Americans.

Jason Wingard, professor and dean of Columbia’s School of Professional Studies (SPS), is addressing this problem head-on. This summer, SPS launched a $100,000 fellowship program to support two students from each of the top 10 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as ranked in The Wall Street Journal.

The fellowship aims to connect talented, underrepresented graduates with Fortune 500 companies eager to employ them. Students earn a one-year master’s degree at SPS from their choice of 40 programs of study.

“As an African-American male myself, it’s disheartening to hear corporations say we can’t find qualified African Americans to come and work at our companies,” Wingard said. “The problem becomes either those companies don’t know where to look, or when they do know where to look, they’re not able to articulate why they are interested in this particular population and how they are adjusting their cultures to be responsive to the employees’ needs.”

The SPS fellowship program will start small, yet Wingard hopes to expand it to more African Americans in improving racial diversity in the workforce. Learn more.

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