Ep 55. David Thomas: Overcoming Unconscious Bias
"Leaders need to take responsibility for the fact that they are not immune to unconscious bias."
David A. Thomas, President of Morehouse College
David Thomas was recently named as the new president of Morehouse College, a traditionally African American, all-male college in Atlanta. He was previously the H. Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and Professor of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, where he served as dean from 2011 to 2016. His research addresses issues related to executive development, cultural diversity in organizations, leadership, and organizational change.
In recognition of his arrival at Morehouse, we’re publishing this conversation from our archives, done while David was Georgetown’s Dean. Stew and David talk about the impact of his early childhood, including his first experience with race consciousness as a five-year old. David believes there is still a problem with diversity and inclusion in corporate America, specifically in leadership roles. For instance; there are less than 10 CEOs in the Fortune 250 who are African American. Unconscious bias is a likely reason for the continuing lack of diversity in American business life, and how to address it is big part of David’s lifelong professional aspiration. Stew and David talk about his powerful, award-winning book, Breaking Through: The Making of Minority Executives in Corporate America, which has had a major impact on tackling this issue, one of the most crucial in our society today.