A Pledge for Workplace Change

Dean Boulding commits to initiatives aimed at developing leaders who understand the needs of working families.

Dean Bill Boulding says the Fuqua School of Business is committed to identifying the best practices for developing workplaces that better meet the needs of women and working families.

Boulding and other deans from the country’s top business schools made the pledge at the White House this summer, after working for more than a year with the White House Council on Women and Girls and the Council of Economic Advisers.

“I’m so proud that our students have also been a driver of these candid conversations,” Boulding says.

In 2013, Fuqua’s Association of Women in Business realized it was only talking to like-minded women about the challenges many members were experiencing in the workplace, he explains. As a result, the group started a program for men. Now both men and women gather to have these conversations, resulting in a more productive understanding of the issues facing each group.

“At business schools, we have the opportunity to make a tremendous impact in how future leaders think about challenges facing families in the workforce,” he says. “I’m extremely pleased to see tangible steps being taken by business schools to make sure this is a priority in our institutions. Ultimately, this commitment could transform how we are thinking about our workforce in the United States.”

Some of the issues the business-school deans pledged to focus on include ensuring access to business schools and business careers for women, and offering career services for students and graduates seeking part-time work and flexible work schedules.

Surveys of M.B.A. graduates reveal that women often are penalized for career interruptions stemming from motherhood. Many companies still lack workplace flexibility, often resulting in women making less money and earning fewer promotions.

“What our students started to discover is that some of these issues don’t just impact women. There are also workplace concerns facing men. There is more common ground than some might have initially thought,” Boulding says.

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) has announced plans to help lead this effort beyond the business schools that committed to the pledge. AACSB, which has 1,450 members and accredits more than 700 schools, announced the appointment of its first chief diversity and inclusion advocate.

“I’ve been proud to be part of this effort,” Boulding says. “I hope this will be a conversation that continues well past this gathering at the White House.”

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