Terrill L. Drake, North Carolina-Greensboro ’01
Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, Harvard Business School
Drake serves as the first-ever chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at Harvard Business School (HBS). Previously an associate dean and head diversity officer at the Villanova School of Business, Drake has spent nearly two decades in higher education working in event management, operations, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The Journal spoke with Drake about his new position and the Fraternity’s impact on his life. The transcript below includes bonus questions not printed in the print edition. (*)
You’re the first person to serve in this role at HBS. Why is this position needed now?
For people with marginalized identities, their experiences can be less than ideal in environments that were created by and still contain majority identities. As such, HBS and other institutions should be working to ensure exceptional experiences for all community members. Meaning, we have a responsibility to provide them with the necessary elements for success. These elements will vary, depending on a specific community’s needs. My role is to shepherd the many initiatives already in place and implement strategies to close the gap between those positive and negative experiences.
How do you define inclusivity, and how will you cultivate it at HBS?
Inclusion is the act of creating environments where all individuals feel welcomed and respected. Our focus is on providing environments and creating spaces where every member of our community has what they need to be successful. As part of that, we’ll work to foster dialogue and learning across differences. Through those interactions, we believe more authentic relationships will be formed.
What are your objectives in this role?
I hope to provide opportunities for members of the HBS community to embed the work of diversity, equity and inclusion into their functional work, units, teams and organizations and to foster an environment where we work to understand and value differences. I’m also excited to make continued progress on the HBS Racial Equity Plan and bring into focus other issues related to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging across race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability, veteran status and age. My team and I will work to define shared language around these efforts to make sure there’s broad understanding as we discuss these initiatives.
How has SigEp impacted your life personally and/or professionally?
Whenever I spend time with any of my brothers, it’s as if not a single day has passed. We are an extended family that can call upon each other at any time. I look back fondly on my time in my undergraduate chapter and credit my election as vice president of programming with preparing me for my first jobs in event management. There were many lessons learned from running our organization that I’ve been able to build upon throughout my career.
* How have you maintained a connection to SigEp since graduating?
As an alumnus, I’ve volunteered with my chapter, North Carolina Omicron at UNC Greensboro. I hope my involvement invokes the same feelings of pride and legacy in today’s undergraduate brothers that alumni instilled in me. I’m looking forward to being more engaged with the national organization as SigEp continues to evolve to be more welcoming and inclusive.
Cats or dogs?: Definitely dogs
Favorite musician?: Beyoncé
How do you unwind?: Travel, family, friends, tennis and wine
* Non-work-related accomplishment you’re proudest of?: Strength of my relationships with family, friends and colleagues throughout every stage or chapter of my life so far
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