Dean Douglas A. Shackelford was one of just 14 deans from top business schools invited to the White House to identify best practices to improve conditions for working families, particularly women, in the workplace.
The April 16 roundtable included Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarett, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors Jason Furman and Director of the National Economic Council Jeffrey Zients.
“The discussion was important,” Shackelford said. “Work and balance are not just women’s issues – they are issues that organizations need to address for families and for the U.S.’s economic health.”
The “high-powered group” met in the West Wing with “President Obama’s economic advisors around a long mahogany table in the Roosevelt Room to help the administration create an agenda for a June summit on working families,” reported Poets & Quants. “Besides the gender pay gap, the meeting examined leadership, retention rates, business school culture and the timing of business school in the lifecycle.”
Deans discussed how to better prepare men and women for careers in which they’ll not only need to balance work and family themselves, but also manage or report to others in that position,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
“And we’re not just talking about child care,” said Shackelford. “UNC Kenan-Flagler professor Jim Johnson warns that a silver tsunami is about to hit as more and more Baby Boomers become senior citizens. Advances in technology and health care mean this huge population segment lives longer. Elder care will be an even bigger responsibility than child care for workers in the future, he predicts, and will require new levels of flexibility in the workplace. Our responsibility is to prepare all future leaders for a work world being reshaped by technology, globalization and demographic forces.”
The challenges of recruiting more women to business school were explored during the roundtable. “I shared the results of our Dean’s Fellows’ projects to attract more women students and our long-term commitment to do so,” he said. “I also explained how the flexibility of our online MBA@UNC program gives parents the chance to earn their MBAs without disrupting their families.”
The School is eager to do more to help women succeed in business school and during their careers, he said. “We know that companies thrive when women are in positions of leadership. As UNC grad Sallie Krawcheck, the owner of 85 Broads, pointed out at this year’s Carolina Women in Business conference, firms experience higher returns, lower risk, more innovation, less pay disparity, more focus when a more diverse management team is in place.”