B-School Deans Convene at White House to Promote Women in Business

Happy BusinesswomanBusiness schools play a critical role in helping workers, companies, and leaders adapt to meet the needs of the 21st-century workforce. On August 5th, the Council on Women and Girls and the Council of Economic Advisers hosted a convening at the White House focusing on opportunities for the business community and business schools to work together to encourage success for women in business, helping companies to incorporate the full range of talent and diversity of American workers.

The convening brought together leaders from the business and business school communities as well as other stakeholders for a conversation on recruiting, training, and retaining leaders for the 21st-century workplace and the importance of implementing policies that work for families.

In conjunction with the event, over 45 business schools committed to a set of best practices that offer concrete strategies for business schools to help women succeed throughout school and their careers and to build a business school experience that prepares students for the workforce of tomorrow.  These best practices focus on four key areas:

  • Ensuring access to business schools and business 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
  • Exemplifying how organizations should be run

Actions Address Unique Barriers Women in Business Careers Face

The Council of Economic Advisers released a new Issue Brief highlighting the unique barriers that women face in business careers and the need for business schools and the business community alike to work together to encourage women’s success. Together, these changes would help businesses fully reap the benefits of diversity, maximize innovation, and boost productivity. Among the Issue Brief’s highlights:

  • Although women have become more equal players in the labor market and have increasingly entered previously male-dominated occupations like medicine and law, women have made relatively fewer strides in business careers. In 2014, only 5 percent of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies were female, and in 2013 only 17 percent of board seats in the Fortune 500 were held by women.
  • Undergraduate women are currently about 30 percent less likely than male undergraduates to major in business.
  • A recent study by a global organization to accredit business schools found that enrollment in North American MBA programs is sharply skewed towards men, with women representing only 38 percent of students. Among specialized master’s degree programs offered by business schools, however, men and women were enrolled at essentially equal rates.
  • While men and women in MBA programs have fairly similar earnings at graduation, after 5 years, men earn approximately 30 percent more than women, and after 10 or more years, this gap stretches to 60 percent.
  • An increased role for women in business is good news for our economy, in part because research has shown that greater diversity in the workforce increases productivity, improves decision making, and heightens performance.

As the global membership association for more than 1,450 business schools, and the accrediting body for more than 700 institutions worldwide, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) has committed to supporting business schools in their efforts to expand opportunity for women in business careers. To help lead these efforts, AACSB announced on Monday, August 3rd the appointment of its first Chief Diversity and Inclusion Advocate, Christine Clements, who will lead this effort.

Business schools and the business community as a whole have a critical role to play in helping prepare future leaders for a 21st century workplace. This event, along with the commitments by business schools and the AACSB, is a concrete step forward in helping women succeed throughout the business community and broader workforce.

Follow this link to read the complete press release issued by the White House.

Image credit: Flickr user Steve Wilson (CC BY 2.0)
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