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Lecturer in Public Policy

Dr. Robert Livingston is a social psychologist and a leading expert on the science underlying bias and racism in organizations. For two decades, he has served as a diversity consultant to scores of Fortune 500 companies, public-sector agencies, and non-profit organizations. Prior to joining the Harvard Kennedy School in 2015, he held full-time faculty positions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and the University of Sussex, where he was Professor and Chair of the Organizational Behavior area as well as the founder and faculty director of Centre for Leadership, Ethics, and Diversity (LEAD).

His research ranges from micro-level experimental investigations of the psychological and physiological processes that underlie implicit bias (e.g., stereotyping, prejudice)—to more macro-level examinations of discrimination in society and the workplace, particularly in upper-level leadership positions. For example, his research on the “Teddy Bear Effect” finds that Black CEO’s, but not White CEOs, benefit from “disarming mechanisms” such as babyfaceness, which make them appear warmer and less threatening. He also conducts research on “intersectionality” exploring qualitative differences in the nature of social disadvantage facing leaders from distinct groups. This work suggests that Black men tend to be stigmatized, whereas Black women tend to be marginalized, and White women tend to be subordinated.

Dr. Livingston’s work has been published in top-tier academic journals such as the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Academy of Management Journal, Psychological Science, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, and Leadership Quarterly. It has also been featured in popular press outlets such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, BBC, Newsweek, USA Today, MSNBC, and Harvard Business Review. His article “How to Promote Racial Equity in the Workplace” was the winner of the 2020 Warren Bennis Prize, awarded to the best article on leadership published in Harvard Business Review each year.

His groundbreaking approach to combatting racism is detailed in his book The Conversation: How Seeking and Speaking the Truth about Racism Can Radically Transform Individuals and Organizations published by Penguin Random House in February 2021. It was selected from among 600 entries as one of six finalists for the Financial Times & McKinsey Best Book of 2021 Award.

In his spare time, he enjoys jazz, wine and whiskey tasting, gastronomy, philosophy, interior design, real estate investing, hiking, and nature documentaries. He has resided in five countries and speaks four languages.

Executive Education Programs

Transparent Engagement 

Harvard Kennedy School is proud of its energetic involvement in the world. To better understand how to solve public problems by improving policy and leadership, we engage directly with policymakers, public leaders, governments, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit businesses whose activities affect those problems. However, we recognize that such engagement can raise questions about perceived and potential conflicts of interest, so we disclose publicly the key professional activities of our faculty outside the Kennedy School. The activities disclosed below are for the most recent reporting period, as defined by University policy. Some may be paid, some may be unpaid, and others may be in exchange for expense reimbursement only.

Outside Professional Activities For Robert Livingston

Organization Relationship
ADP Consulting
ADP Reimbursed travel
American Express Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation
Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Consulting
Columbus Partnership Consulting
Columbus Partnership Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation
Kronos Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation
L'Oreal USA Women in Science Membership on a scientific or other advisory board
L'Oreal USA Women in Science Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation
Microsoft Corporation Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation
Sunlife Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation
Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, Inc. Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation
Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation


Fairness & Justice
Gender, Race & Identity
Public Leadership & Management

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