Bill Boulding, dean of the Fuqua School of Business and J.B. Fuqua Professor, visited the White House last Wednesday for a summit on how businesses can create more inclusive workplaces.
In addition to taking part in a discussion about how businesses and business schools can best support women and working families, Boulding signed a document with other leaders of business schools committing Fuqua to several best practices based on topics that were discussed. The summit was hosted by the White House Council on Women and Girls and the Council of Economic Advisers.
"The thing we committed to with the White House is this idea of how business schools can be role models in terms of the kind of organization that you create, and have that carry over into our graduates and the practices they implement as they go to their respective companies," Boulding said.
The list of best practices, designed to help business schools connect businesses to a more diverse talent pool, is separated into four categories—ensuring access to business schools and careers, building a business school experience that prepares students for the workforce of tomorrow, ensuring career services that go beyond the needs of traditional students and exemplifying how organizations should be run.
Forty-seven schools signed the document, which Boulding said he and other business school deans had been involved with for more than a year. In conjunction with the summit, the Council of Economic Advisers released an issue brief about the disconnect between the increased number of women in the labor force and the small number of strides made in the business sector.
Although the majority of college students are women, less than five percent of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies in 2014 were female and only 16.9 percent of Fortune 500 board seats were held by women in 2013. The brief noted that women face obstacles such as explicit and implicit bias, insufficient preparation and support from business educators and inadequate family-friendly workplace policies.
Boulding explained that many of the recommended practices have already been implemented within Fuqua—which saw its MBA program ranked No. 1 last November by Bloomberg Businessweek—and others are "aspirational." He also noted that the goal for business schools is not just to increase diversity within student bodies, but to train students who embrace it.
"What we really have is a challenge of building a generation of leaders who understand how to unlock the value that all people bring," he said.
As part of Fuqua's effort to create a community with a shared purpose, Boulding said the school is trying to emphasize six paired principles: authentic engagement, collective diversity, supportive ambition, loyal community, uncompromising integrity and impactful stewardship.
To ensure that those principles are upheld, a working group consisting of student groups, faculty and staff was created in the Spring to gather data that could inform Fuqua's operations in the future.
The summit—Boulding's second trip to the White House since 2014—was part of a broader sequence of events. The day before the summit, President Barack Obama held the first-ever White House Demo Day to promote diversity in the technology industry, announcing initiatives with major tech companies committed to fostering that diversity.
Diversity has also been a major topic of conversation on Duke's campus lately. In the last Academic Council meeting of 2014-15, the Council's Diversity Task Force assessed the current status of faculty diversity and recommended areas for improvement.
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Given the attention the issue is receiving nationally, it is likely that the University will continue to focus on diversity as it moves forward under its first female provost.
"We’ve got to make sure that everybody is getting a fair shot—the next Steve Jobs might be named Stephanie or Esteban," Obama said at a press conference following the White House Demo Day. "They might never set foot in Silicon Valley. We’ve got to unleash the full potential of every American—not leave more than half the team on the bench."