Jerome Taillard, associate professor of finance at Babson College and first recipient of the Professor George Troughton Term Chair in Finance, is a renowned finance expert, researcher, and award-winning instructor named one of the 40 top business school professors under 40 by Poets & Quants in 2017. He also is one of many Babson faculty members who champion diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as inclusive teaching practices.
Born and raised in Switzerland, Taillard brings an international lens to campus as an immigrant to the United States holding a green card. He previously lived in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio, where he received his PhD in finance from The Ohio State University in 2010.
“I saw quite a few things that I think made a big imprint on me,” Taillard said of his experience in Ohio’s capital city. “I’ve seen the reality on the ground for three years, and you can read about it, but living with it for three years was really shocking to me in so many ways, especially coming from Switzerland with my American Dream.”
Describing himself as “one cog in the system,” Taillard has played an integral role in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at Babson as a co-creator of the Inclusive Teaching Training Program (ITTP) for faculty, along with Professor of Management Nan Langowitz, faculty director of Babson’s Center for Engaged Learning and Teaching (CELT).
“I really want to be one of the many allies to the cause,” said Taillard, chair of the Dean of College Inclusive Excellence Committee (DoCIE).
Faculty Members Take Action
Babson has been engaged in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion for a long time. Early work focused on increasing representation and ensuring access to a Babson education through scholarships and partnerships, such as the Posse Program.
“In 2015, there was a student petition that wanted the faculty to be more in tune with DEI” in terms of classroom instruction and management, Taillard said.
Like many campuses, Babson responded to its students’ petition to bolster DEI efforts particularly for faculty diversity and development. Taillard was part of a newly created DEI committee at the time. This committee helped facilitate several DEI initiatives. In particular, in 2018 and 2019, Taillard and other faculty worked with Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Dr. Sadie Burton-Goss to launch the College’s first faculty diversity training retreat.
“The classroom is made of many people with very diverse backgrounds on many dimensions,” Taillard said. “So, it makes the job pretty challenging, and we need training—we need training to recognize when the situation or teaching approaches are not inclusive, when we could take action to do something more or differently, when injustice is being made, even unintentionally.”
In 2019, under the leadership of President Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA’92, PhD, DEI became one of the College’s key strategic objectives. This positioning and these efforts provided the platform for Murata Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Ken Matsuno to formally establish the DoCIE committee, chaired initially by Associate Professor of Management Tina Opie, and now chaired by Taillard.
Recent initiatives include partnering with CELT to develop Babson’s first Inclusive Teaching Training Program (ITTP) for faculty, which launched in July. “This training program brought together a large coalition of colleagues, both staff and faculty,” Taillard said.
Building the ITTP began in 2020 with a faculty-wide survey, followed by a pilot group going through programs from other schools, and then convening a team of Babson faculty to design the program.
“There have always been informal conversations among faculty around how we could be more inclusive, how we could encourage diversity and equity,” said Langowitz, CELT’s faculty director. She described Taillard as a “wonderful colleague” and said she appreciates working with him as a co-creator of the ITTP.
“As a collaborator, he’s very thoughtful,” Langowitz said of Taillard. “He and I both worked on making sure that there were resources committed so that we could create and support this program. And, I think that’s another way of showing that the College takes it seriously.”
Langowitz said ITTP promotes a new approach “fully focused on how to take DEI into account with respect to our course design and delivery” so that faculty receive targeted training on how to be “inclusive teachers.”
Understanding Power and Privilege
The ITTP is a voluntary, two-week training program for faculty members and a “critical first step” in creating broadly shared understanding and engagement around inclusive teaching, Taillard said, adding the program educates faculty members about the notions of privilege and power, and it helps raise awareness of social intersectionality.
“We talk about privilege, and with great privileges come great responsibilities,” he said. “I think we have to recognize the type of privilege that we have—and that privilege is to the power 10 when you are a white male walking into the classroom. Conversely, you will not be bestowed that privilege depending on your skin color, gender, or other traits students might perceive—and that is certainly a hurdle that some of our colleagues have faced for years now.”
More than 120 faculty members have completed the ITTP training since the program launched, and another two dozen have asked to attend a future program cohort next year, according to Taillard and Langowitz.
After completing ITTP, enrolled faculty members receive the book Promoting Inclusive Classroom Dynamics in Higher Education: A Research-Based Pedagogical Guide for Faculty by Kathryn C. Oleson as a post-training gift. Oleson, a professor of psychology and dean of the faculty at Reed College, will be speaking at Babson in spring 2022, according to Langowitz.
“A lot of DEI issues come from a lack of understanding,” Taillard said, adding the “key ingredient” of DEI advancement work is “trying to understand and welcome others.” Given Babson’s role in educating global entrepreneurial leaders who shape social and economic opportunities, promoting DEI is an important part of the educational goals the College seeks to achieve, according to Taillard.
As much as Taillard knows about DEI, he describes himself as a novice on the subject matter.
“As a white guy coming from Switzerland,” he said, “I have a lot of learning to do, and I’m still right at the beginning. One thing that is always clear, the more you delve into these matters the more you realize how little you know and how much growth there still needs to be. It will take more work to be where we need to be, but as I like to say, ‘Onwards and upwards.’ ”