01 Dec 2018

A Force for Good

Applying the principles of business leadership to accelerate social change


Photo courtesy of Ananth Kasturiraman

There is no shortage of evidence demonstrating that the hiring process is one of the ways in which economic inequalities are perpetuated. Take, for example, the finding that job candidates who alter their names, employing the practice known as “résumé whitening,” are more likely to get through a recruiting process than those whose names clearly identify them as a racial minority. Ananth Kasturiraman (MBA 2017) says that employers are missing out on a rich pool of talented applicants as a result.

Kasturiraman has forged his career at the nexus of business and social impact. With his latest project, Skillist, he is building a fairer, more effective hiring process. Skillist is a proprietary, skills-based application system that works with companies that have unfilled entry-level roles in critical functions like customer service and administration. “We connect them to great candidates they might otherwise overlook,” he says.

Skillist’s job application platform omits a candidate’s name and other identifying information, adding instead more robust details of an individual’s talents, including personal achievements and volunteer roles. The result is a hiring process that is more fair, and one that helps companies access talent that they are excited about.

“For too long, we’ve depended on degrees as proxies for competence and capability. It’s high time to bring the focus back to skills,” Kasturiraman says. “In doing so, we can open up access to economic opportunities to traditionally marginalized groups and bring more equity into our economy, all while making hiring an easier, better experience for companies.”


Photo by Evgenia Eliseeva

“We have to help companies as they transition to pursuing social objectives alongside financial ones. To do so, we need to support managers who want to learn how to fulfill both goals.”
Julie Battilana, Joseph C. Wilson Professor of Business Administration, HBS; Alan L. Gleitsman Professor of Social Innovation, Harvard Kennedy School


Photo courtesy of Sara Marcus

“I came to HBS to explore ways in which the social sector intersects with business. This year I’m taking Leading Social Enterprise, which has an optional second quarter where you can pursue an independent project. I’m excited that I get to use my coursework as a platform to explore what that could look like.”
—Sara Marcus (MBA 2019), Co-President, Social Enterprise Club

Leadership Fellows Program

Since 2001, the Leadership Fellows program has placed 173 recent graduates in high-impact management positions with 72 nonprofit and public sector organizations. Open to all graduating second-year MBA students, the program provides up to 20 fellows a year with the opportunity to work in nonprofit or public sector positions, giving those organizations access to an MBA’s managerial and analytical skills to build capacity.

Return to Tomorrow, Transformed
Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 2017, Section J

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