Where Are We Going, Where Have We Been? One Year After the White House Gender Initiative

Where Are We Going, Where Have We Been? One Year After the White House Gender Initiative

One year ago, the White House convened a summit with over 150 business school and industry leaders to discuss ways to expand opportunities for women in business.

One year ago this month, the White House Council of Economic Advisors convened a summit with more than 150 deans and leaders from AACSB-accredited universities and business stakeholders to discuss and share “Best Practices for Business Schools to Lead in Expanding Opportunities for Women in Business and Adapt to the 21st-Century Workforce.” The mantle was passed to AACSB to carry this work forward and expand awareness and action among the business school community. Since that time, AACSB writ large has facilitated the sharing of best practices and engaged a much broader community in this initiative.

Advocating for ‘Better’ Practices

Over the last year, many schools have stepped forward to share their own best practices at events such as the Deans Conference and ICAM, where administrators and faculty from our member schools have spoken with colleagues in bonus sessions or presented their schools’ initiatives on panels. In this same spirit, business school leaders have contributed thoughtful perspectives and analysis through blogs posts and in online articles and videos, to encourage action by their peers.

Participation in the AACSB Member Forum and in affinity groups has also sparked ideas and encouraged shared understanding of diversity and inclusion topics. The Women Administrators in Management Education (WAME) Affinity Group initiated and presented its inaugural annual award, the Patricia M. Flynn Distinguished Woman Leader in Business Education Award, to honor influential women in business education. The first award aptly went to its namesake.

The focus on advocacy and best practice is a shared commitment, and the size and reach of the AACSB network provides tremendous opportunity for members to call for change in their local communities and to leverage and amplify impact on a global scale.

Making Diversity and Inclusion a Strategic Priority

Discussions during AACSB’s major strategic planning initiative resulted in a renewed commitment to diversity and inclusion based on the business case of enhanced organizational outcomes as well as the moral imperative that is realized in our core values. To support this commitment, AACSB will take on the following tasks:

  • Enhance our annual Business School Questionnaire (BSQ) data collection and analysis to provide an ongoing scorecard of business school diversity data
  • Dedicate an Innovations That Inspire initiative to the diversity and inclusion theme
  • Continue to include diversity and inclusion in our conference agendas—both concurrent and plenary sessions—as a means of sharing effective practices
  • Further utilize our communications media to promote and share our diversity-related work and that of our members and partners
  • Build relationships with other organizations involved in similar work

AACSB continues to maintain a close partnership with The PhD Project, is expanding its research relationship with GMAC, and has been in discussion with the Forté Foundation in regard to its Men as Allies toolkit project.

Reaching AACSB’s Global Network

Recognizing that the White House initiative originated from a U.S. perspective and focuses prominently on gender diversity, AACSB is currently working to take the best practices document to our global network of business school deans and regional councils to generate a version 2.0 of best practices from a global context. AACSB has the potential to leverage its mission to foster engagement among business schools, management educators, and the broader community of business practice to not only attain a stronger commitment to gender equity and parity but also to increase awareness of other dimensions of diversity and inclusion, such as ethnicity, culture, and global region.

The discussion and sharing of effective practices across this diverse network offers tremendous opportunity to accelerate innovation in developing systems, attitudes, and commitments to change the numbers and the culture. As the largest global network of business schools and organizations committed to quality business education, AACSB can amplify the impact of efforts to advance diversity and inclusion, building the pipeline for the future and transforming the cultures of business schools and workplaces.

Committing to Change—How Your School Can Participate

On this one-year anniversary of AACSB’s renewed commitment to diversity and inclusion, please join us in making public your school’s commitment to developing business leaders for the future who exemplify and embrace the tremendous value of a diverse world.