Our Purpose

Fostering a diverse and inclusive community where everyone feels they belong is a matter of basic fairness in line with Harvard’s core values. It is also essential to excellence in HKS’s mission of improving public policy and leadership across the United States and around the world.

Therefore, discrimination and exclusion based on race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, disability, and other characteristics have no place at HKS. But achieving true excellence requires us to do more than just condemn and oppose unacceptable behavior—it requires us to affirmatively build a more diverse and welcoming community.

Our values and mission call on us to reject and resist anti-Black racism and other systemic injustices, within our School and in the societies we serve. Racism, sexism, and other forms of bias and discrimination can be seen in individual acts of hatred and can be embedded in economic, political, and social systems. We must work with resolve to build a school and a world with respect and dignity for all. The importance and urgency of this goal are apparent every day.

Together, the faculty, students, staff, and alumni of HKS will continue to work for fundamental change. We are following a strategic and coordinated approach to advance diversity, equity, and anti-racism at HKS and to increase our teaching, research, and outreach on racism and other injustices.


In January 2016, Dean Elmendorf charged a committee of faculty, staff, and students with taking a comprehensive and strategic look at how to improve diversity and inclusion at HKS.

The committee’s report in 2017 provided a framework for action and many specific recommendations. A subsequent Harvard-wide task force offered more ideas—and numerous proposals came from HKS’s students, staff, faculty, and alumni in the years that followed. In the years since, HKS has taken many steps to strengthen diversity and oppose racism and other injustices.  

Horrifying acts of violence have increased national and global awareness of longstanding, systemic inequities in the United States and other countries. We continue to look closely at HKS as an institution as well. HKS must seize this opportunity to make a greater positive difference in advancing equity, within our own community and in the world. 

The ideas, energy, and commitment of students, staff, faculty, and alumni have been essential to the work that has been done and the progress that has been made—and remain essential for the work ahead.


In early 2021, HKS’s strategy for making fundamental progress toward diversity, equity, and anti-racism became expressed in a framework called IMPACT.

Building on the collective energy of our community, we are pursuing concrete actions to achieve our goals.

I Creating and sharing INSIGHTS to advance our collective learning 
M MEASURING our progress to hold ourselves accountable 
P Developing POLICIES to generate a more level playing field
A Increasing ACCESS to all aspects of HKS life 
C Nourishing a CULTURE of respect for the dignity and differences of others
T Creating TOOLS that help us to achieve our aspirations


To carry out this strategy, HKS is working in five action areas.

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