Posted on April 21, 2020

In Letter to Bacow, Rev. Al Sharpton Calls on Harvard to Disclose Diversity Among Endowment Managers

Ellen M. Burstein, Harvard Crimson, April 9, 2020

Civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton called on Harvard to disclose whether it employs African American asset managers in a letter to University President Lawrence S. Bacow last month.

In the letter, Sharpton asked that Harvard release a report detailing whether any senior African American professionals are involved in internally managing the school’s $40.9 billion endowment.


Sharpton wrote that not employing diverse asset managers would be a failure of Harvard’s “fiduciary responsibility.”

“While the systematic exclusion of people of color and women from the management of endowment assets has been a question of social justice over time, today it is for me a question of fiduciary responsibility,” Sharpton wrote. “Study after study shows very high performing women and people of color, yet those same studies show under-utilization by asset allocators.”


Harvard Management Company spokesperson Patrick S. McKiernan wrote in an emailed statement that HMC has taken a three-pronged approach towards increasing diversity among its asset managers.


In his letter, Sharpton cited the University of California’s recent report to university administrators and state legislators outlining the school system’s efforts to promote diverse hiring practices among its endowment managers.

“This report does not mitigate the harm and moral stain of past transgressions, but it does show that the University of California is receptive to the idea of integrating people of color into every part of their university to create the best possible institution,” Sharpton wrote.