Robert Livingston, lecturer in public policy at Harvard Kennedy School, has won the 2020 Warren Bennis Prize for his Harvard Business Review article, “How to Promote Racial Equity in the Workplace.” The prize is awarded for the top article on leadership published in HBR each year.

The Warren Bennis Prize was established in 2015 to honor the legacy of Professor Warren Bennis, who was one of the world’s most influential thinkers on the topic of leadership. Bennis taught at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business for three decades and was a longtime Harvard Business Review contributor. The prize is jointly administered by HBR and USC, with a committee of faculty judges choosing the winner.

The prize-winning HBR article, which appeared in the September-October 2020 issue, offers a model for corporate and organizational leaders to implement effective interventions to address racism. Livingston calls his model PRESS, for problem awareness, root-cause analysis, empathy, strategies, and sacrifice, which he defines as “willingness to invest the time, energy, and resources necessary for strategy implementation.”


Livingston writes that many organizations have called on him over the years for a “quick fix to stop the pain.” He argues that “organizations and societies alike must resist the impulse to seek immediate relief for the symptoms, and instead focus on the disease. Otherwise, they run the risk of a recurring ailment.”

Thomas Cummings, professor of management and organization at the Marshall School and a member of the deciding panel, said, “Robert Livingston’s article reveals the core reasons why racial inequity persists in the workplace despite growing efforts to stop it. He presents a straightforward road map for how organizations can make profound and sustainable progress toward this objective.”

Robert Livingston’s research focuses on diversity, leadership, and social justice. His book, The Conversation: How Seeking and Speaking the Truth About Racism Can Radically Transform Individuals and Organizations, was published in February. Livingston’s work has ranged from micro-level experimental investigation of the processes that underlie implicit bias to macro-level examinations of discrimination in society and the workplace, especially at the leadership level.

He came to Harvard in 2015, after previously teaching at the University of Sussex, Northwestern University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He earned his undergraduate degree from Tulane University; master’s of arts degrees from the University of California-Los Angeles and The Ohio State University; and his doctorate in psychology from Ohio State.