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Dean back at White House for women in business initiative

Doug Shackelford - UNC Kenan-FlaglerDean Doug Shackelford returned to the White House as part of an initiative to improve opportunities for women in business.

Shackelford was invited back for a convening organized by the White House Council on Women and Girls and the Council of Economic Advisers on Aug. 5. The meeting brought together leaders from the business and business school communities to discuss recruiting, training and retaining leaders for the 21st century workplace and the importance of implementing policies that work for families.

Prior to the event, Shackelford committed UNC Kenan-Flagler to a set of best practices to help women succeed throughout school and their careers with a focus on:

  • Ensuring access to business schools and business careers
  • Building a business school experience that prepares students for the workforce of tomorrow
  • Ensuring career services go beyond the needs of traditional students
  • Exemplifying how organizations should be run

“The White House meetings explored important issues that we have been addressing for some time – thoughtfully, strategically and programmatically,” says Shackelford. “Some issues are outside our direct control, such as family-friendly policies, but we can encourage firms to address them. Our faculty’s research provides important insights about for workplace issues, and we disseminate them to the business community to help inform best practices.

Research by Sreedhari Desai, an organizational behavior professor at UNC Kenan-Flagler, was cited in a White House briefing released as part of the event.

“In addition to being the right thing to do, the best practices ensure that we continue to support the vital role of women in the workplace and their communities,” says Shackelford. “We reach out to young women to help them imagine careers in business and build awareness that they can make a difference in the world as business leaders. We offer a high school program to encourage young women to study business and actively recruit women into our Undergraduate Business and MBA programs with the support of our Carolina Women in Business club and Forté Foundation. For professional women, our UNC Executive Development programs are designed to the information and skills then need to transition to leadership.”

Many of the best practices are already used at UNC Kenan-Flagler, Shackelford says, but more can be done. “We’re eager to partner with the business community as it changes to offer more flexibility and better embrace diversity.”

Shackelford’s participation in the event built on earlier meetings hosted by the administration in April 2014, which included a meeting of leading business school deans and senior administration officials at the White House. In that discussion, the deans described the challenges business schools face in expanding opportunities and adapting to the changing workforce, as well successful strategies they have used to address these challenges.

The White House sessions, commitments from the business schools and support from AACSB International (the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) – the global membership association and accrediting body for business schools – are important steps in in helping women succeed in business, Shackelford says.