Learn More About Michèle Lamont
How do leaders influence who matters and who doesn’t – in the workplace and in society? Who owns the narrative, and what can be done to broaden definitions so organizations, communities and individuals can thrive?
Such questions are at the heart of esteemed Harvard University Professor Michèle Lamont’s research. Professor of Sociology and of African and African American studies, and one of the world’s leading scholars of individual and group transformation, she offers organizational leaders a unique, non-partisan perspective on how they can create conditions where dignity, equality, respect, inclusion and destigmatization are actively promoted and ensured so people can do their best work and be their best selves.
A comparative sociologist, Lamont’s research focuses on non-material ways of bestowing recognition and affirming identities, practices that greatly enhance workplace culture, employee retention, collaboration, productivity and society as a whole. As seen in her new TED Talk, “How to Heal a Divided World,” her work also helps leaders identify and address recognition gaps that may be inadvertently overlooked by the organization, but not by the employee.
Author or coauthor of a dozen books and edited volumes and hundreds of articles and chapters on a range of topics including culture, social boundaries, racism, social change and successful societies, Lamont’s upcoming book examines the challenge of creating collective well-being in the face of mass inequity.
“As we face alarming levels of inequality in nearly every country, it is urgent that we extend dignity and respect to the largest number of people, regardless of their beliefs, affiliations or the color of their skin,” explains Lamont. “We can each play a part in creating more inclusive organizations and societies, especially corporations, policy makers and cultural entrepreneurs.”
From 2014 to 2021, Lamont served as director of Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and now leads its research cluster on Comparative Inequality and Inclusion. Well-known to global audiences as a comparative educator, researcher and speaker, she became interested in boundaries – sexual, racial, class, professional and spatial – while growing up in Canada and seeing how linguistic divisions changed narratives. Her simple message, which reaches across social and socioeconomic divides, is that it is possible to bolster dignity across the social spectrum by using new narratives. Helping people understand how to develop such narratives is where she does her best work.
Lamont has conducted extensive research on the corrosive effects of stigmas, including how various stigmatized groups have responded to exclusion in the United States, Europe, Brazil and Israel. Conversely, she also examines success stories, pointing to a reduction in stigmas around obese people, African Americans and people with HIV/AIDs.
“I am glad to see young adults and agents of change promoting destigmatization, but organizations can play a powerful role in expanding recognition to the largest number of citizens,” Lamont explains. “By becoming more inclusive we also invite in more ideas, strengthen teamwork and build trust. It is our moral obligation to ensure people feel part of the greater whole at work, in their communities and in the world.”
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Michèle Lamont is Professor of Sociology and of African and African American Studies and the Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies at Harvard University. She co-chairs the advisory board to the 2021-22 UN Human Development Report “Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives: Shaping our Future in a World in Transformation.” Recent honors include a Carnegie fellowship (2019-2021), a Russell Sage Foundation fellowship (2019-2020), the 2017 Erasmus Prize and honorary doctorates from six countries. From 2016 to 2017, she served as the 108th President of the American Sociological Association.
Michèle Lamont is available to educate your organization via virtual and in-person interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.