State Controller, PG&E Chief Diversity Officer to Headline Diversity Conference, Nov. 6

John Chiang (bottom), California state controller, and Bill Harper, chief diversity officer at Pacific Gas & Electric (top), will give keynote speeches at the fifth annual Haas Diversity in Business Conference on Nov. 6 at the International House.

The theme of the conference is "Diversity: From Buzzword to Action." Conference co-chair Michelle Florendo, MBA 10, explains, "We would like to challenge students to think about diversity beyond recruiting and retention and consider how the skill of being able to manage differences and leverage differing perspectives is essential to a future business leader’s success."

Florendo is co-chairing the conference with Haas undergraduate Leoni Podoan, BS 10.

The conference will feature a panel discussion on best practices in recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce. It also will include interactive workshops addressing the role of diversity in everyday management topics such as communications, team and group dynamics, and innovation.

Both keynote speakers are passionate advocates of diversity in business. Chiang, the son of immigrant parents, has pushed for more diversity on corporate boards. Last year, he asked CalPERS, the nation's largest public
pension fund, to consider a new initiative to address corporate board diversity. Subsequently, the CalPERS board
accepted a report stating that companies with more diverse boards perform better than those with less diverse boards. CalPERS said it will use the findings to encourage portfolio companies to demonstrate better performance and better corporate governance.

As chief diversity officer at PG&E, Harper works with PG&E leaders to ensure that there is a singular focus on promoting an inclusive culture and shared responsibility for diversity and inclusion throughout the company. Harper is responsible for ensuring the company coordinates and leverages its numerous diversity-related efforts, including its industry-leading diversity supplier program, recruitment and training efforts, employee associations, community outreach programs, and customer diversity services. He has more than two decades of experience leading procurement and sourcing initiatives.

The Haas Diversity in Business Conference is open to Haas students and alumni and the business community. For more information visit the Diversity Conference website.