Portrait image for Heather Maiirhe Caruso

Heather Maiirhe Caruso

Associate Dean, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; Faculty Co-Director, Inclusive Ethics Initiative; Adjunct Associate Professor of Management and Organizations and Behavioral Decision Making
“My goal is to help people make the most of opportunities to grow, inspire and work effectively together.”
(310) 825-6729
Areas of Expertise:
  • Choice Architecture
  • Communication
  • Diversity
  • Constructive Conflict
  • Equity
  • Improvisation
  • Inclusion
  • Leadership
  • Team Dynamics


Heather Maiirhe Caruso (HEH-thur MY-ee-ray kah-ROO-soh) joined UCLA Anderson in 2018, and now serves as a faculty member, associate dean for equity, diversity, and inclusion, and faculty co-director of the Inclusive Ethics Initiative. In 2022, she also became the inaugural Chair of the UCLA Council of Equity Advisors. A scholar and researcher of organizational behavior, she teaches in the Management and Organizations and Behavioral Decision Making areas.

Caruso’s passion for facilitating inclusive success runs deep in her life and work. “My formal interests in organizational and social psychology developed when I was an undergraduate at Stanford doing cross-cultural negotiation research with Jared Curhan and Lee Ross,” she says. These interests deepened during her years as an engineer and executive in a multinational Silicon Valley startup. “I was fascinated with the real-world experiences stemming from differences in cultural identity. Interpersonal problems could derail even the most talented individual performers, and effective collaboration skills could not only prevent such problems, but raise individual contributions to new heights.”

Layering rigorous academic training on top of practical experience, Caruso focuses her research, teaching, and academic administration at UCLA on the contributions of equity, diversity, and inclusion to individual and societal well-being. All of these efforts aim to surface the organizational, social, and psychological factors that maximize positive experiences.

“In expanding upon the outstanding behavioral research conducted in these areas, we are building bridges between science and practice to help people encounter differences in more effective and enjoyable ways.”

Caruso stays connected to the everyday priorities and challenges of the workplace by consulting for private- and public-sector organizations on the practice of inclusive leadership, communication, and collaboration. She has also launched a partnership with Chicago’s famed Second City enterprise to develop inclusive skill development workshops at the intersection of behavioral science and improvisational practice.

On a mission to help people realize their potential through higher education, Caruso is a strong proponent of lifelong learning for management excellence, and encourages students to make the most of their professors’ knowledge, not only while they are pursuing their degrees, but also throughout their careers. “As a preeminent public university, UCLA has a a distinctive opportunity to advance equity, diversity and inclusion,” she says. “It is an honor to help UCLA Anderson seize that opportunity by creating the kind of challenging and rewarding educational climate that can benefit leaders from every walk of life.”


Ph.D. Organizational Behavior – Social Psychology, 2008, Harvard University

A.M. Social Psychology, 2006, Harvard University

B.A. Psychology, 1999, Stanford University



Clair, J.A., Humberd, B.K., Caruso, H.M., & Morgan Roberts, L. Marginal memberships: Psychological effects of identity ambiguity on professionals who are demographically different from the majority. Organizational Psychology Review, 2, 71–93 (2012).

Greer, L.L., Caruso, H.M., & Jehn, K.A. The bigger they are, the harder they fall: Linking team power, conflict, congruence, and team performance. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 116, 116–128 (2011).

Caruso, H. M. , Rogers, T., & Bazerman, M.H. Boundaries need not be barriers: Leading collaboration among groups in decentralized organizations. In T. Pittinsky (Ed.), Crossing the Divide: Intergroup Leadership in a World of Difference. Boston: Harvard Business School Press (2009).

Caruso, H. M., & Woolley, A. W. Harnessing the power of emergent interdependence to promote diverse team collaboration. In E. A. Mannix, M. A. Neale (Series Eds.), & K. W. Phillips (Vol. Ed.), Research on managing groups and teams: Vol. 11. Diversity and groups. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press (2008).

Polzer, J. T., & Caruso, H. M. Identity negotiation amidst diversity: Understanding the influences of social identity and status. In A. Brief (Ed.), Diversity at work. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2008).

It’s Not Just What You Say or How You Say It

Warren Olney and assistant dean of equity, diversity and inclusion Heather Caruso discuss how listening to understand is the key to averting conflicts, particularly among people of different backgrounds and cultures.

Featuring:  Heather Caruso, Assistant Dean, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; Adjunct Assistant Professor of Management and Organizations and Behavioral Decision Making