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AACSB and White House Team to Promote Workplace Diversity

August 2015

By Amy Ponzillo, Senior Manager, Public Relations, AACSB International

The White House has recently called on AACSB to advance a series of newly formed best practices for business schools. The “Best Practices for Business Schools to Lead in Expanding Opportunities for Women in Business and Adapt to the Changing Workforce” offer concrete strategies for business schools to help women succeed throughout school and their careers, as well as build a better experience that prepares students for the workforce of tomorrow.

Developed collaboratively by the White House and top business school deans, the best practices were discussed throughout the day at a joint convening in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, August 5, with representatives from the White House Council on Women and Girls (CWG), the White House Council on Economic Advisors (CEA), AACSB, and more than 150 deans and leaders from AACSB-accredited institutions, administration officials, and business stakeholders.

The convening brought leaders together to discuss how collectively academe and industry can create an environment that trains, recruits, supports, and promotes a diverse workforce. In conjunction with the convening, the more than 45 business schools who had committed to the set of best practices, in advance, were recognized.

Regarding the initiative, AACSB’s president and CEO, Tom Robinson, remarked, “Diversity serves as a core component to AACSB’s mission and values, and business schools are a critical part of this conversation. We commend the AACSB schools that have been involved and contributed to the development of these best practices. Their work demonstrates how crucial it is for the management education industry to create an environment that recruits, supports, and promotes a diverse workforce.”

The best practices encourage business schools to address the challenges of today in four key areas:

• Ensuring access to business school and business careers
• Building a business school environment 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

Robinson further noted, “We are honored to work with the White House on this important initiative, and are pleased with how these best practices give AACSB members and the higher education industry an opportunity to address the needs of a more diverse student population and changing workforce.”

Concurrent with the convening of business and business school leaders, 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.

Moving forward, all documents—including the best practices, the issue brief, and supplemental reference materials—will be housed on AACSB's website at aacsb.edu/diversity. AACSB has also committed to disseminating and advocating for these best practices through leveraging the AACSB membership communication network, including continuing the conversation in its visioning initiative, showcasing best practices as parts of conference and event programming and relevant interest groups, and preparing periodic reports on the state of gender diversity in business schools.

AACSB’s senior vice president of accreditation and member services and newly appointed chief diversity and inclusion advocate, Christine Clements, stated, “When we look at the data, it is clear that more can be done. For example, only a small minority of S&P 500 CEOs are women.”

Clements added, “To build these leaders, schools need to address the life-cycle challenges current and future female students face. These best practices, when coupled with AACSB’s resources and our members’ commitment to diversity and inclusion, set the stage for how the industry as a whole must meet the needs of the non-traditional student, create an equitable workforce—including university administration, faculty, and staff—and position all students for future success in a complex business environment.”

For more detailed information on this initiative, please follow these links:

White House Hosts Convening of Business School Deans and the Business Community on Expanding Opportunities for Women in Business (White House Fact Sheet)

White House Partners with AACSB to Advance Discussions on Diversity and Inclusion and Share Best Practices for Business Schools (AACSB Press Release)

AACSB Best Practices Webpage