Dean Harrison signs national diversity & inclusion pledge

Dean Ann Harrison signing the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion Pledge at Haas. Photo: Brittany Hosea-Small

Haas Dean Ann Harrison this week signed The CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion pledge, joining 50 academic institutions and more than 750 CEOs supporting the sweeping national diversity commitment.

Through the pledge, spearheaded by accounting & consulting firm PwC, Harrison agreed to create environments that support open discussions about diversity and inclusion; to implement and expand unconscious bias education; and to share both successful—and unsuccessful—actions with members and the broader community.

“When I arrived at Haas, I realized that the school did not reflect the diversity of the surrounding community, and this pledge is part of my ongoing commitment to change that,” Harrison said. “Through this new initiative, we’ll continue to move forward in implementing best practices that will help take our DEI [diversity, equity, and inclusion] efforts to the next level.”

At the signing, three PwC partners, who are also UC Berkeley alumni, joined Harrison: Jane C. Allen, BS 95 (College of Natural Resources), PwC firm relationship partner for UC Berkeley recruiting; Kevin Schwartz, MBA 98, the PwC liaison for recruiting for the Berkeley MBA program; and Laura Martinez, MBA 89.

“We’re thrilled that we’re having this meeting today to start the conversation,” Martinez said. Allen said Haas’ pledge is about sharing what’s worked at the university level. “A plan is in place,” she said. “We can talk about facilitating the plan and the tools that we have that can be leveraged and what Haas would be willing to share with others.”

Group shot from diversity pledge meeting at Haas
Left-right: John Clamme, director of corporate partnerships at Haas, Marco Lindsey, former dean’s chief of staff who is transitioning to a new diversity role at Haas; Jane Allen (PwC); Dean Ann Harrison; Laura Martinez (PwC); Kevin Schwartz (PwC); and Haas’ new Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer David Porter joined the pledge signing meeting.

A focus on both companies and universities

PwC launched the CEO Action initiative in 2017 after the company’s U.S. Chairman Tim Ryan initiated a series of companywide conversations about race.

Today, the effort continues to expand, addressing diversity and inclusion on behalf of groups including African Americans, Latinx, Asians, Native Americans, LGBTQ, people with disabilities, veterans, and women.

CEO Action focuses on both companies and universities, with a President’s Circle and a university-focused corporate working group. Both are working to adapt the pledge to higher education by engaging faculty and staff, and discussing campus programming, including a CEO speaker series, recruiting events, and a “Check Your Blind Spots” mobile tour that helps students explore the concept of unconscious bias —everything from poor hiring techniques to how people decide who to sit next to in public spaces. “The mobile tour brings home the issue of diversity,” PwC’s Schwartz said.  “It’s a great immersive experience and we’re hoping to find a time to get it to Haas.”

Other universities that have signed the CEO Action pledge include Cornell, Duke, Penn State, Texas A&M, Ohio State, the University of Michigan, and Georgetown.

Harrison’s pledge builds on ongoing DEI initiatives at Haas. Last October, the school delivered an action plan that outlined specific ways to bolster enrollment of underrepresented minorities and to develop a more inclusive environment schoolwide. Efforts in the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Action Plan included increasing  overall scholarship money for underrepresented minority students and adding a question on the MBA application to include a student’s experience in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Kellie McElhaney named to “Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business” list

Kellie McElhaney in classroom teaching.
Kellie McElhaney teaches students to be “equity fluent leaders.”

Kellie McElhaney, distinguished teaching fellow and founding executive director of the Center for Equity, Gender, & Leadership at Berkeley Haas, has been named among the “Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business” by the San Francisco Business Times.

McElhaney was featured among more than 100 Bay Area women leaders in real estate, law, tech, finance, health care, and education, among other industries. The women chosen all share a passion for what they do and are leaders in their organizations and their communities, according to the SF Business Times.

McElhaney joined Berkeley Haas in 2002 as an adjunct professor and founded the Center for Responsible Business, serving as its executive director. In 2008, The Financial Times rated Haas #1 in the world for corporate social responsibility.

Over the years, McElhaney has been interviewed as an expert on gender equity and inclusiveness, women in business leadership, the gender pay gap, and #MeToo by media outlets ranging from Bloomberg and The Washington Post to NPR and Forbes.

McElhaney, who earned a PhD from the University of Michigan, told the SF Business Times that her biggest professional accomplishment was being dubbed “chief inspiration officer” by her MBA students. She said she’s also proud of teaching more than 1,000 Berkeley students a year to be “equity fluent leaders,” a term she uses to describe leaders who understand inclusiveness and how to lead people from all gender and ethnic backgrounds. McElhaney is currently teaching “The Value of Equity Fluent Leadership” across all degree programs.

She said the biggest challenge of her career was finding her voice to stand up to gender discrimination and harassment. “I’ve learned that I need to practice what I teach, and that by speaking up, I help countless women, not just myself.”

Her sister, Mary Lynne, is her personal hero, she said. A triathlete who weathered difficult professional and personal circumstances after she came out, her sister was able to reclaim “her authentic self,” McElhaney said.

“She’s a fearless big sis crusader for me and always has my back,” she said.

McElhaney, the mother of two college-age daughters, serves on the board of Sierra Global Management LLC and is involved in the community as a board member of the national nonprofit Empower Her Network. She also serves on the gender equity committee for the California Athletics Board.

MBA students fight the gender pay gap—one offer at a time

While she was working at Microsoft several years ago, Christina Chavez, MBA 19, logged into an anonymous online job compensation board called Blind and was shocked to see the tech gender pay gap in plain sight.

“People were posting their data, and we started saying ‘whoah’ there’s some major differences in how our colleagues are getting paid,” said Chavez, who will start working at Google after graduation.

With these numbers top of mind, pay equity and transparency was a top goal for Chavez when she arrived at Berkeley Haas. She put that priority into action last fall when she and classmate Jack Anderson—a fellow member of the student-led Haas Gender Equity Initiative—set up a new spreadsheet where classmates can share all the details of their compensation packages. (The spreadsheet is managed by Jordan Sale, MBA 19, and founder of startup 81cents, which provides salary support for women during job negotiations.)

Using salary data and research provided by Berkeley Haas Prof. Laura Kray, the students created a Haas Wage Gap Infographic, which shows that women who graduated from Haas last year earned 96% of what their male peers earned. But the more concerning finding was that for alumni with greater than 10 years experience, the salary gap between men and women widened.

“We earned 96 cents to the dollar in the last MBA class and people were like ‘yeah we’re approaching equity,’ but this gap grows over time,” Chavez said.

Christina Chavez
Christina Chavez 

Moving toward transparency

The Haas students launched this project to expand what’s offered through CMG Bears —the Haas Career Management Group’s tool that allows MBA students to anonymously enter and look up salary data based on company and job role. The database offers a wealth of information, but doesn’t track salaries by gender.

Abby Scott, assistant dean of MBA Career Management and Corporate Partnerships, who worked with the students to provide historical data for the project, said the long-term salary gap is a concern. She added that Haas is working to add gender identification to CMG Bears to provide as much context to the salary data as possible.

“I don’t think that we know the real cause of the long-term pay gap, but we are advising students to make sure they’re negotiating salary and thinking beyond compensation—and we speak frequently to women about both the importance of negotiation and taking on leadership roles,” she said.

By many estimates, American women working full time earn about 80% to 85% of what men earn (a statistic that varies by race/ethnicity and how it’s measured). Kellie McElhaney, founding director of the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership (EGAL) at Haas, said transparency is a critical weapon in the fight to close the pay gap. “Knowledge is power,” she said, noting that a growing group of companies such as Salesforce, Gap, and Google have been moving in the right direction, toward public reporting of compensation.

In recent research, Prof. Kray and Margaret Lee, a postdoctoral research fellow sponsored by the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership (EGAL), looked at the Berkeley Haas alumni surveys of full-time professionals who graduated between 1994 and 2014. The researchers found that while men’s base salaries were on average about 8 percent higher than women’s, it’s in the bonuses, share values, and options—which tend to not be tracked as publicly as salaries—where the men’s salaries outpaced women’s. Overall compensation for Haas women MBAs averaged about $290,000, or about 66 percent of men’s $439,000 average. Kray and Lee also linked part of the pay gap to the fact that men manage larger teams than equally qualified women.

Tricky negotiations

It’s the company shares and stock options that are trickier in negotiations and not often tracked, Anderson said, adding that for some reason, male MBAs appear to fare better in those areas after graduating from Haas.

Jack Anderson
Jack Anderson

“That’s the thing that jumped out to me: how much of the offer goes beyond base compensation [salary and signing bonus],” he said. “So many companies are offering other compensation, RSUs (restricted stock units), and stock options. It drove us to think about how important it is for people to understand this and to get some basis for comparison. We need to work on how we display that information for people.”

But that might not be enough. In their research, Kray and Lee found that the problem goes far deeper than negotiation skills, pointing toward a bias about leadership that leads men to be put in charge of larger teams than equally-qualified women, and get paid more because of it.

McElhaney agreed that better negotiating skills will only go so far—if it comes down to the basic fact that managers just want to pay men more and that women are facing entrenched bias.

“You can change processes but the long-term problem is people’s individual biases,” she said. “If they believe things like men do a better job at leading big teams, or that women bosses are unlikable, this is unconscious and conscious bias at work.”

To access the new spreadsheet, students must agree to share their own salary data anonymously, including their preferred gender, job title and function, years of post-college work experience, geographic location of the job offer, and compensation details, including base salary, bonus, and any equity package offered. All students are asked whether they negotiated their compensation— and if so, to include the initial and final offers. So far, 58 students in the 2019 MBA class who have received job offers have added data to the sheet—split about evenly between men and women.

Why women can’t negotiate away the gender pay gap

To mark Equal Pay Day, we’re featuring new work by Prof. Laura Kray, an expert on gender and negotiations, along with Margaret Lee, a postdoctoral research fellow with the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership. Equal Pay Day was created in 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity to mark extra days that American women would have to work, on average, to earn what male counterparts earned last year.

Why women can't negotiate away the gender pay gap

Professor Laura Kray has doubled down on helping women develop ace negotiation skills: She’s spent much of her career studying gender dynamics in negotiations, and has also taught many hundreds of MBA students and seasoned women executives how to negotiate like pros.

Laura Kray
Prof. Laura Kray

But when it comes to strategies to close the stubborn pay gap that has women earning about 80 percent of what men earn (a statistic that varies by race/ethnicity and how it’s measured), she takes issue with telling women they can simply negotiate their way out of it. That not only puts the onus on women rather than the systemic issues that keep their salaries low, but it perpetuates stereotypes that may not be true, she said.

“We know that people who negotiate get more than those who don’t, but that’s not a ‘women’s issue’—two-thirds of men don’t negotiate,” said Kray, the Warren E. and Carol Spieker Chair in Leadership. “Women are asking, but they’re not always getting what they ask for, and they’re more likely to be told things that aren’t true.”

Kray has long peeled back the surface to look at the deeper structural issues that lead to gender inequality, from implicit bias to lack of transparency to inflexible mindsets. Recently, she’s uncovered a new front in the pay gap battle: team size. Kray and Margaret Lee, a postdoctoral research fellow sponsored by the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership (EGAL), are examining how deep-seated biases about leadership may lead to men being put in charge of larger teams than equally qualified women, and being paid more because of it.

Since supervising more people can be more work and indeed justify a higher salary, it’s important to unravel the reasons why men manage larger teams and how that drives higher salaries, she said. Combined with other findings, this new line of research offers another layer of insight into the causes of the gender pay gap—and possible solutions.

“We’re most interested in the structural issues, and the psychological processes of decision makers that produced them,” Kray said, at a recent EGAL presentation on her work with Lee.

Do women ask—and do they get?

Kray points to a 2017 study by McKinsey & Co. and Lean In that asked 70,000 respondents across 222 companies whether they had asked for a raise or negotiated for a promotion. While the percentages varied slightly by race, there were no significant differences between men and women overall.

She and Lee took a closer look at how this plays out among Berkeley Haas MBA students. Analyzing the results of a negotiation exercise completed by 346 MBA students who were asked to structure their own job offer, she found that the women did not sell themselves short, and asked for virtually identical base salaries as men.

In a more disturbing finding from a 2014 paper, Kray looked at the results of a sales negotiation exercise completed by pairs of 298 MBA students, where one acted as seller and one as buyer, with opportunities to lie or misrepresent the truth. Men reported they had lied to female partners in 24 percent of cases, versus just 3.4 percent of negotiations with another man—in other words, seven times as often. And although women reported lying less overall, they also were slightly more likely to lie to other women as to men.

Based on that and other experiments in the paper, Kray concluded that female negotiators are perceived as less competent and more gullible than male negotiators, which leads to them being lied to or manipulated more often—another reason why she believes the problem goes far beyond teaching women to negotiate.

“In this classroom simulation, MBA women were not getting the same treatment in negotiations, regardless of whether they were asking or not,” Kray said. “It’s important to explore if—and how—this plays out in organizational contexts.”

Team size and salary

In their new work, Kray and Lee looked at the results of a Berkeley Haas alumni survey of almost 2,000 full-time professionals who graduated between 1994 and 2014. Respondents had between two and 18 years post-MBA work experience, with an average of seven years. The researchers found that while men’s base salaries were about 8 percent higher than women’s, it’s in the extras—bonuses, share values, and options, which tend to not be tracked as publicly as salaries—where the men’s salaries dwarfed the women’s. These MBA women’s overall compensation averaged about $290,000, or about 66 percent of men’s $439,000 average.

That echoes findings from a recent study by the Forté Foundation, revealing that the salary gap is even higher for MBA women than for women overall (and highest for minority women), and that it only increases with seniority. A 2010 study of Chicago Booth MBA grads found a similar result: thirteen years out, women earned 56 percent of what men earned overall (they traced a large part of that to the career interruptions of motherhood, but found at least 10 percent of it to be unexplained).

Analyzing the Berkeley Haas alumni survey, which contained information on direct reports, Kray and Lee became interested in whether team size is contributing to pay disparities.

They compared the number of subordinates men and women reported managing and found men averaged 11 direct reports while women averaged six. After controlling for multiple factors such as experience and industry, that was reduced to an average of 10 for men and slightly less than 8 for women, but still significant. They then conducted further analysis parsing out team size from salary, and concluded that team size did account for a portion of the pay gap—above and beyond other individual job characteristics.

The researchers then delved further into why men are given larger teams. They conducted surveys of Berkeley Haas undergraduates, and also of subjects recruited through an online platform, and found no differences in men’s and women’s preferences on the number of people they’d feel comfortable managing. Even so, both groups said they preferred male managers for large teams, and female managers for smaller teams.

In another study, they found that people were more likely to associate stereotypically male attributes (e.g. assertive, forceful, aggressive, demanding) with leaders of larger teams, and associate stereotypically feminine attributes (e.g. patient, polite, kind) with leaders of smaller teams. They also found that people do believe that leaders of large teams earn more than leaders of small teams.

Kray and Lee are now more deeply pursuing research on why a team-size bias exists—based not only on stereotypes of who is a more appropriate leader but also on how complex and challenging the jobs of leading teams of various sizes are believed to be. The ultimate goals is to examine how implicit biases about team size justify part of the difference in men’s and women’s pay, and especially the gap that widens with seniority.

What can women do?

In the meantime, Kray—who also serves as faculty director for EGAL—advises women entering a job negotiation to pay close attention not only to their salary and bonuses, but also to how many direct reports they’ll be managing.

“For women who are aiming to maximize their earnings, it is important to make sure they have the headcount to justify what they’re asking for,” she said. “My advice for these aspiring women is: Don’t overlook team size as a factor that could make a difference in your paycheck, especially in the long run.”

EGAL Founding Director Kellie McElhaney said Kray and Lee’s new research is exactly the type of work she wanted the center to support when it launched in 2017.

“This works on two critically important paths: Dispelling long-held and damaging myths that are used to justify inequitable behavior, like unequal pay, and introducing new explanations that need further research, like team size,” McElhaney said.

2019 Women in Leadership Conference to focus on accountability, action

The WIL leadership team
Women in Leadership (WIL) conference team members: Left to right: Sandra Tamer, MBA 19, Lauren Grimanis, MBA 20, Mila Pires, MBA 19, Annie Powers, MBA 20, Geena Haney, MBA 20, Kate Hancock, MBA 19, (conference co-chair) Jordan Baxter, MBA 19, (conference co-chair) Lipika Grover, MBA 20, and Erin Casale, MBA 19.

If 2018 was the year that the world woke up to the #MeToo movement’s allegations, marches, and debates around diversity and equity, 2019 is shaping up as a year of accountability and action.

That’s where the Berkeley Haas Women In Leadership team drew its inspiration as members organized the 23rd annual conference, to be held this Saturday, March 16, at Berkeley Haas. For six months, a leadership team of seven second-year MBA students and partners have been prepping for Haas’ longest running student-led conference. Organizers are expecting more than 300 people will attend, with 20 speakers lined up to talk about everything from inclusive culture to imposter syndrome.

This year’s theme is “Your Stories, Your Growth.”

“We recognize that everyone attending this conference brings something to the table, and we created this theme to inspire people to recognize the value of their own stories, and share them with others,” said Erin Casale, MBA 19, a WIL leadership team member who worked in management consulting before coming to Haas. “Stories inspire change, and that’s our ultimate collective goal.”

Pioneering women leaders

After breakfast and a welcome address from Dean Ann Harrison, the day will feature a keynote, talks, and four breakout sessions. Sessions will cover, for example, how millennials can drive corporate change for gender equity and how to fight imposter syndrome (and learn what kind of imposter you are). Another session, led by two T-Mobile senior employees, will allow attendees to practice having courageous workplace conversations.

Among the list of speakers and companies participating, many are women who broke into senior positions in industries or roles that were historically closed to women. They include Sandra Lopez, vice president at Intel Sports and Teri List-Stoll, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Gap Inc., who will give the day’s final keynote. Other speakers include Tyi McCray, the interim director of diversity and belonging at Airbnb, Brandi Pearce, the faculty director of Teams@Haas and a lecturer in the Management of Organizations Group at Haas, and Elena Gomez, CFO of Zendesk.

Coming away with a “clear next step”

For Casale, a big part of planning this conference required reviewing formal written and informal feedback from last year. The goal was to make this year’s conference unique and fun, especially given the current climate in which #MeToo news dominates the headlines regularly. “We wanted to make sure people didn’t feel tired or worn out from current events, but rather  inspired to take action at work and in their lives,” Casale said.

She added that business schools can do a lot to improve equity fluent leadership, a term coined by Kellie McElhaney, the founding director of the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership at Haas, which emphasizes the value of different life experiences, encouraging people to use their power to remove barriers, increase access, and drive change for positive impact.

The hope is that attendees will walk away from the conference ready to start a hard conversation at work—or share an inspiring story with friends or coworkers, Casale said.

“For us, it will be a win if attendees come away with a clear next step of what they can do to set themselves and their peers on a better path toward equity and inclusion,” she said. “We want people to feel equipped for change and inspired to start it.”

Tickets are available here.

VIDEO: Wall Street pioneer Margo Alexander on thriving against the odds

As one of the first female leaders in the global financial services sector, Margo Alexander, BS 68, spent four decades achieving exceptional success on Wall Street in the face of pervasive sexism. Now, she’s using what she learned as a financial powerbroker to cultivate entrepreneurs who serve the world’s poorest people.

“The social problems of the country are not just for the government to solve. And corporations have the levers…they can make that decision to improve [society],” says Alexander, who spoke candidly about her experiences with Interim Dean Laura Tyson in the final installment of the 2018 Dean’s Speaker Series this month.

Alexander retired in 2003 after 30 years at UBS/Paine Webber, in equity research, sales, trading and asset management, serving as chairman and CEO of UBS Global Asset Management 1995 to 2000 and chairman from 1999 to 2001.  She then spent almost a decade as board chair of Acumen—a nonprofit committed to changing the way the world tackles poverty—where she continues to serve as chair emeritus.

She’s focused on helping entrepreneurs doing business in impoverished regions of Africa and South Asia—applying many of the same tactics she used to spot talent in the corporate financial sector. “I think being an entrepreneur is hard work anywhere. But imagine in a place where there’s no electricity, the water is intermittent, the workforce is uneducated…all of the resources that you would pull together as an entrepreneur to build an organization are somewhat rickety to start with,” she said.

“What we have found about our successes over time is the most important variable is the character of the entrepreneur. They’re operating in very difficult circumstances; there’s an enormous amount of corruption; and, if these people don’t stand up in an honest, ethical way, we’ll [withdraw our support].”

Alexander, who was recently honored with a Haas Lifetime Achievement Award, exemplifies the Defining Leadership Principle Question the Status Quo. Each time she entered into a new assignment and wanted to make changes, she took care to communicate to employees what would be in it for them. She would start by saying, “Here’s what I’ve learned about our group. Here’s what we need to do better. And here’s how we’re going to do it.” Then came the benefit: “It will improve our bonus pool.”

Her strategy was to link “the broader goals with the individual performance and what that would do in terms of the firm, the team, the individual.”

Alexander was one of just 27 women in a class of 800 to graduate from Harvard Business School in 1970. It took her two years to get her first job in finance. In her last semester, she signed up for several interviews. “You’d go in, and, frequently, they would say, ‘oh, I’m sorry, we don’t hire women.’ I said, ‘Oh, okay.’ So, then you leave. I’ve had women say to me, ‘What did you say to them?’ Nothing. I mean, it was just how things were.”

Alexander persevered through years of gender discrimination, and she believes strongly that women bring tremendous assets to corporate finance. “I actually think women can have an advantage in dealing with people. I think women are generally more open, more inclusive, and warmer.”

She had lots of advice when asked how to attract and retain top talent, especially entrepreneurs. First, she advocates for offering robust training programs and fellowships.

“When you get involved in hiring people, you’re not always right, but you get a feeling for what is it that motivates this person. Do they have ethical standards?,” she said. “I would say we do not have a magic box. But, when you find out you were wrong, we don’t sit around. We’re done.”

Watch Alexander’s full talk:

Gloria Allred: “Telling the truth matters.”

Preventing discrimination and injustice in the workplace can save employers money, time, and damage to their reputation from potential lawsuits, said powerhouse feminist attorney Gloria Allred to a full house of Berkeley Haas students, faculty, and staff last Wednesday.

“Look for opportunities to make a difference for fairness and for change. I’m not saying there’s only one style or way to achieve it—you have to make a judgment call about the best way for you,” Allred said, after a student asked how to make change from within the corporate world. “Telling the truth matters. Saying nothing will do nothing but maintain the status quo:”

Allred, who has spent four decades fighting—and often winning—high-profile battles against discrimination, spoke in conversation with Kellie McElhaney, director of the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership. The event, which followed a Tuesday screening of the new documentary Seeing Allred, was part of the center’s AmpEquity Series.

Allred said those who decide to take action should think it through beforehand and, potentially, consult with a lawyer if they are in a vulnerable position. But, “it’s really in the interest of the corporation to get to the truth,” Allred said.

Allred mixed blunt warnings with advice and inspiration, at times showing her anger and frustration. She called the Kavanaugh hearings an “exercise in raw power” that lacked due process for everyone involved, and she warned students to be prepared for whatever comes their way in the workplace.

“This is not a downer—this is just a dose of reality for you,” Allred said. “Sexual harassment is going to be one of the biggest barriers you will face in coming up that corporate ladder and staying there. Or sex discrimination, race discrimination, discrimination based on sexual orientation. It’s out there. Think in advance how you’re going to deal with it because you will deal with it in some way.”

Allred urged students to live their values, noting—as Gloria Steinem said—that you can tell your values by your checkbook stubs.

“Think about your time as an investment. People are often more protective of their money than their time. You can earn more money, but you can’t earn more time,” she said.

“Decide what your priorities are. Everybody can make a difference in some way, usually more than one way,” she said. “Follow your heart. Everyone can make a difference.”

Watch Allred’s full talk:

Equity, Gender, and Leadership Center receives gift from Zendesk

Kellie McElhaney, founding director of EGAL
Kellie McElhaney, founding director of EGAL. Photo: Jim Block

The Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership (EGAL) at the Haas School of Business today announced a $1 million gift from customer service software maker Zendesk.

The four-year gift strengthens funding for EGAL, which is part of the Institute for Business and Social Impact (IBSI) at the Haas School. EGAL received a founding corporate gift from Gap Foundation in November 2017. The Zendesk gift brings total funding for EGAL from Gap, Zendesk, and other corporate partners and individual donors to about $3 million.

“We’re so proud to have Zendesk as a partner,” said Kellie McElhaney, founding director of EGAL. “We are educating equity-fluent leaders to ignite and accelerate change through our center. Zendesk’s efforts around diversity, inclusion, and leadership make it a stand-out in the tech industry. Together, we’re working to create high-growth companies and a more equitable business world.”

“EGAL’s work on these critical equity, gender, and leadership issues that impact corporate America is inspiring,” said Haas alumna Elena Gomez, BS 91, Zendesk’s CFO, and a member of EGAL’s Founding Advisory Council. “Our industry demands change, and the work we’ll do with and through EGAL is intended to accelerate this change.”

With IBSI support, McElhaney launched EGAL last year with the goal of developing leaders who are “equity fluent”—able to engage in difficult and uncomfortable conversations, and empowered to design creative solutions. The center is advancing thought leadership in this area through multiple “Diversity Playbooks” and by partnering deeply with the business sector. The center will also serve as a hub for fostering leaders by educating students, supporting faculty research, and working with companies and organizations to train their leaders, broaden their missions, and develop strategies.

For Zendesk, equal access, opportunity, and belonging are necessary to cultivate a sustainable and meaningful culture. In addition to taking measures to reach gender pay parity globally and racial pay parity in the U.S., the company fosters equity by supporting relationship building and mentorship programs among women and people of color. It also works with organizations to diversify the talent pipeline, and nurtures internal spirit with initiatives such as employee resource groups.

“The relationship that EGAL has forged with Zendesk will support and broaden our research efforts in gender, equity, and leadership, and help to develop new leaders at Haas and beyond,” said Interim Haas Dean Laura Tyson, who is also the faculty director of IBSI. “We aim to make all of our graduates equity fluent, able to engage in difficult and uncomfortable conversations, and empowered to design creative solutions and lead. Collaborations like these will help pave the way to creating a new kind of workplace, where equity on many levels—from equal pay for equal work to promoting more women to senior management and leadership positions—is the norm rather than the exception.”

McElhaney, who teaches a course called “The Business Case for Investing in Diversity and Inclusion” conducted 2016 research with Genevieve Smith on the zero-percent pay gap between men and women at Gap Inc., developing an ongoing relationship that led to Gap’s founding gift.

The EGAL leadership team includes Prof. Laura Kray, who studies gender stereotyping and negotiations, and Prof. Tyson, who served as chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton administration and has written extensively about the need to address the worldwide economic disparity between men and women.

Since its launch last November, EGAL has held its first diversity and inclusion pitch competition; hired a post-doctorate researcher who will be working closely with faculty; and named its first EGAL fellow, an incoming MBA student who has shown deep commitment to diversity and inclusion.

McElhaney, along with EGAL Program Director Jennifer Wells, leads the AmpEquity Leadership Series, a forum to amplify the conversation around workplace equity. The series brings leaders from a variety of business sectors to share their perspectives on leadership, lessons learned, and strategies with the Haas community.

Outstanding paper award for Prof. Laura Kray’s article on women as negotiators

An article by Prof. Laura Kray aimed at rewriting the narrative on woman as negotiators and leaders has received a 2018 “Outstanding Practitioner-Oriented Publication” award from the Academy of Management (AOM), a professional association that publishes several academic journals.

Prof. Laura Kray

Kray’s article, “Changing the Narrative: Women as Negotiators – and Leaders” was published in the Fall 2017 issue of California Management Review, the Berkeley Haas journal that serves as a bridge between those who study management and those who practice it.

Practical strategies for managers

The article, co-written with Jessica Kennedy of Vanderbilt University, explores the challenges that women face in rising through the ranks and achieving equal pay. Kray and Kennedy contend that the stereotype of women as innately poor advocates for themselves distracts from the fact that women possess unique advantages as negotiators. In fact, Kray’s past research has shown that women tend to be both more cooperative and more ethical than men in negotiations. The article presents practical strategies for managers and negotiators of both genders to close existing performance gaps.

“Only when women are given the credit they deserve will we bridge the gender divide,” they write.

The article was selected by a committee from the Academy of Management’s Organizational Behavior (OB) Division. “[Kray’s research] shines a light on a very timely topic as the conversation around women is changing in many parts of the world.  Moreover, it represents one of the few articles that attempt to arm organizations with solutions to the challenges around a perceived gender gap.  Rather than focusing on how men and women are different (and how one should be more like the other to fit a situation), it focuses on how we may want to change how we look at certain practices or competencies.  That is, it advocates to change the practice rather than change the person,” the judges wrote.

Kray and Kennedy will accept the award at the Academy of Management Conference in Chicago on August 11.

Kray is Warren E. and Carol Spieker Professor of Leadership at Berkeley Haas, and one of the founding researchers for the new Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership. She is also the founding director of the Women’s Executive Leadership Program for Berkeley Executive Education.

California Management Review special issue

As part of California Management Review’s 60th anniversary special issue, Kray’s research was featured alongside six other contributions from Berkeley Haas faculty authors. Other articles included research on personnel selection by Prof. Don Moore, language as a window into culture by Assoc. Prof. Sameer Srivastava, overclaiming by Asst. Prof. Juliana Schroeder, cross-sector careers by Adj. Prof. Nora Silver, and sustainability at Patagonia by Robert Strand, executive director of the Center for Responsible Business.

Men invited to join the conversation at Women’s Empowerment Day

Lecturer Krystal Thomas, center, talks with students at Women’s Empowerment Day 2017.

At a time when the #MeToo movement has left many men wary of workplace relations, organizers of this year’s Women’s Empowerment Day invited men to join the cause of supporting and mentoring undergraduate women.

More than 100 women were nominated by the faculty to attend the 6th annual conference on Friday, April 13, at Spieker Forum in Chou Hall. This year, the undergraduate women were asked to invite a total of 40 male students as guests.

Lecturer Krystal Thomas, BS 94, and Asst. Dean Erika Walker, who directs the undergraduate program, co-founded the event in 2013 to connect Haas alumnae to current students. The goal is to provide support, mentorship, and expand networks for young women planning careers in business.

A scene from Women’s Empowerment Day 2017

Including men in the conversation

Thomas said the decision to open the event to men came after she received feedback from female students who wanted to better understand how to build collaborative, collegial working relationships with male colleagues in the classroom and at their internships.

“We are including men in the conversation because frankly they haven’t been invited—they feel accused,” Thomas said. “A lot of young men don’t have the skill sets to deal with the environment.”

Throughout the day, students will participate in candid 45-minute career conversations with alumni mentors, including about a dozen women and three men. Ten students will also receive one-on-one life coaching sessions to provide specific tools to navigate career challenges.

Pressure to be perfect

Annie Wang, BS 19, said she’s looking forward to hearing career stories from powerful women at the event.

“I feel like women inadvertently feel more pressure and feel like they have to be perfect all the time, so it’s inspiring to hear stories about how that is not the case,” she said. Wang said she’s hoping to learn more about how women in the workplace combat “Impostor Syndrome”—feeling unqualified for their jobs, regardless of positive feedback.

She added that she’s happy that male mentors were invited this year. “I want to learn how to include men into the conversation and become allies with them,” she said.

Bank of the West is sponsoring this year’s event, with Beth Hale, executive vice president and head of the bank’s product management and payment solutions group, delivering a keynote on her personal journey.

Patrick Ford, MBA 17, who helped launch the “manbassadors” male ally program at Haas, will lead a breakout session for men on the benefits and challenges of workplace gender equity, exploring social expectations and unconscious bias.

“I think there’s a whole ecosystem of obstacles that women face in the workplace that men don’t, and that the challenges overlap and intensify,” he said. “The vast majority of men in office settings aren’t overtly sexist and aren’t sexually harassing anybody, but those men who are sexist play an outsized role in ruining office environments.”

Dan Mulhern
Dan Mulhern

“We silo ourselves in echo chambers”

Haas Lecturer Dan Mulhern said he got involved with Women Empowerment Day because he believes that men must be active participants in these discussions. In addition to teaching, Mulhern is a coach and has developed models for leadership and organizational culture. He will lead a talk on “Acts and Attitudes of Empowerment,” on Friday.

“Too often, we silo ourselves in echo chambers,” he said. “Change happens within open rooms and open minds.”

Emily Garcia, BS 17, recounted her experience at least year’s Women Empowerment Day on the Haas Undergraduate Blog, noting that she spent five hours with “some of the most amazing women I have ever met.”

“It wasn’t about distinguishing ourselves from one another,” she wrote. “It wasn’t about putting blame for inequality on men or any other group for that matter. It was about uniting ourselves together as women. It was about educating each other about an issue that truly does exist in society, and more specifically, in the business world. It was about inspiring each other to support one another, so that we can fight for the equality that is long overdue.”

3 research-based ways to reduce unconscious gender bias in your organization

Insights from Prof. Jennifer Chatman, Prof. Don Moore, and Distinguished Teaching Fellow Kellie McElhaney

Research has long shown that companies with more women on their senior management teams see above-average financial returns.  But with a steady stream of news about workplace sexual harassment, the gender pay gap, and the small percentage of women at the top, it seems the business world has a long way to go in achieving gender equity.

Yet there are many research-proven strategies and practices that organizations can employ to reduce both overt and unconscious bias. For Women’s History Month, we highlight insights from three Berkeley Haas researchers on what organizations can do to reduce gender bias and create fair, equitable, and highly successful workplaces.

Make culture transparent

Political correctness has generally become a term of contempt, used to disparage a culture seen as stifling free expression—as when fired Google engineer James Damore railed against “PC-authoritarians.”

Berkeley Haas Prof. Jennifer Chatman_How to reduce gender bias
Prof. Jennifer Chatman

So Prof. Jennifer Chatman was surprised when she found, in a 2015 study, that mixed-gender groups who talked about rules of “political correctness” were significantly more creative than those who were simply told to be polite or sensitive.

“We were stunned by the results,” says Chatman, an expert on organizational culture who co-authored the study. “Those exposed to the PC norm had noticeably more divergent, novel, and interesting ideas than any of the other groups.”

Chatman’s study challenged both conventional wisdom and prior research on creativity, which presumes that imaginations flourish when constraints are removed. But in today’s diverse workplaces, uncertainty about how to act in mixed settings may actually inhibit creativity in other areas, the researchers concluded.

“Men are likely to worry about looking overbearing or sexist and fear social disapproval, while women concerned about whether their ideas will be accepted might self-censor,” Chatman says. “Spelling out the rules removes the ambiguity.”

For example, specifically stating that sexist language will not be tolerated reduces uncertainty, the researchers noted. In their experiments, the participants who discussed PC norms said they paid more attention to the words they used and tried to avoid offending other group members. Even with those self-restrictions, their groups came up with more ideas—and more innovative ideas—in a brainstorming session then those not given instructions.

“People can simultaneously be thoughtful, reasonable and respectful, while at the same time being wildly creative,” Chatman says.

To build a culture of respect, companies must clearly articulate their values and expected norms, and also be willing to enforce them, Chatman says. 

Make hiring transparent

When the London Symphony Orchestra noticed all their musicians were male, leaders realized gender bias had crept into their hiring. They started asking people to audition behind a screen and barefoot—so they wouldn’t unconsciously be influenced by the click-clack of high heels on the stage.

Berkeley Haas Prof. Don Moore
Prof. Don Moore

“Once they made that decision, they got better musicians and more female representation,” says Prof. Don Moore, an organizational behavior expert who studies decision making, overconfidence, and ethical choice.

Hiring and promoting the most capable people is critical to the success of any organization, yet many still rely on unstructured interviews that vary from person to person and introduce the probability of bias. “We’ve known for decades that interviews are terrible predictors of performance—it’s one of the best-established findings in organizational behavior research—yet somehow the word has not spread,” Moore says.

The simplest solution: Structure interviews so that all candidates are asked the same questions in the same order, and score the responses. Even better: use assessments of intelligence or other relevant skills to rate applicants in a quantifiable way, Moore says.

“It’s possible to get very well-designed tests that have been validated over many years and don’t include factors that we’d rather not consider, such as race, gender, or cultural background,” he says.

What about “fit”?

“I know that people believe they can assess ‘fit’, but when pushed as to what that means, most people have only the vaguest of responses: ‘Well, if I like them,'” Moore says. “But think about where your feelings of liking come from. Is it because the person looks like you? Talks like you? Went to the same schools? Without having a clear definition of ‘fit’ I worry that it opens the door to many prejudices that you don’t want influencing your decision.”

Even though it may be tough to create a perfectly non-biased hiring system, Moore says, “it’s a dream worth reaching for. It will make us better decision makers, it will make us better people, and it will pay dividends.”

Make pay practices transparent

On a national level, progress on closing the gender pay gap has been slow. Yet Gap Inc., proved it’s very much possible to achieve pay equity at the company level.

Adj. Assoc. Prof. Kellie McElhaney
Adj. Assoc. Prof. Kellie McElhaney

In 2014, Gap became the first Fortune 500 company to conduct a robust analysis and announce that it pays female and male employees equally for equal work, on average, across its global workforce of about 135,000. How did Gap do it? Distinguished Teaching Fellow Kellie McElhaney, founding director of the Berkeley Haas Center for Gender, Equity & Leadership, analyzed the company’s pay equity success in a case study published last July.

Gap has a strong history of strong women: It was co-founded by Doris and Don Fisher, who chipped in 50-50 to open their first store; it’s had senior women at the table from the start; and its workforce is 74 percent female. But that doesn’t mean gender parity was a fait accompli—in fact, female-dominated sectors such as retail, tend to have higher-than-average wage disparities since women tend to be clustered at the bottom, McElhaney notes.

Instead, the company’s equity success was the result of a concerted effort to engage and support women and help them rise through the ranks, through flexible work policies, and a culture that’s collaborative and inclusive. It’s also very much due to an intentional approach to minimize unconscious bias in pay, through transparency, accountability, and statistical analysis—practices other organizations can learn from.

Some best practices to make pay more transparent:

  • Create pay equity processes grounded in statistical analysis: Gap analyzed pay rates organization-wide and also by comparing comparable positions, grouping jobs based on responsibilities and experience required, and controlling for variables such as geography. Its analysis was validated externally.
  • Provide managers with data: The company gives managers pay data on their teams annually, including market ranges for each role. It also gives managers resources and discretion to correct pay differences.
  • Don’t require salary history: Women suffer a career-long wage loss when their salaries are anchored to prior inequities. Gap doesn’t require applicants to provide prior salary information during the initial hiring process (although it’s optional).
  • Put salary policies in writing: Gap publishes the company’s compensation practices on GapWeb, which all employees can access (they are not privy to specific pay ranges unless their managers share them).

In the case study, Keith White, Gap’s senior vice president of loss prevention, notes, “When operating eyes wide open, and not just treating people as if they are in a vacuum, [gender equality in pay] becomes a non-issue.”

Berkeley Haas ranks #2 in U.S. in Top MBAs for Women, #3 worldwide

MBA students Jennifer Werkmeister, Hannah Levinson & Kira Mikityanskaya, all MBA 19.

Fueled by high alumnae salaries, the Full-time Berkeley MBA Program ranks #2 among US schools and #3 in the world for women, according to the Financial Times.

The “Top MBAs for Women” ranking names the schools where women have the best outcomes, compared with those where data reveals a gap between male and female graduates. Berkeley Haas women reported earning 3 percent more than their male classmates three years after graduation, and had the 2nd highest salaries of programs worldwide, averaging almost $180,000 three years after graduation.

The ranking taps data the Financial Times collected for its 2018 Global MBA Ranking. About 45 percent of it is based on three salary measures reported by the Class of 2014, including:

  • Alumnae’s current salary, three years after earning an MBA: At $179,930, Haas alumnae were 2nd only Stanford Business School grads worldwide.
  • The gender pay gap: Haas alumnae reported earning 103 percent of what male classmates earned, and ranked third in this category.
  • Salary increase​: Haas alumnae reported a 110 percent increase in their salaries from pre-MBA to three years post-MBA.

Gender equity efforts pay off

Laura Tyson
Prof. Emeritus Laura Tyson, Berkeley Haas’ first female dean

While the Financial Times publishes its annual Global MBA ranking each January, that report doesn’t address whether women do as well as their male peers after graduation. The publication added this further analysis on women’s outcomes for the first time this year. The FT reported evidence “to suggest that an MBA exaggerates the gender pay gap: three years after graduation women on average made 86 per cent of their male peers’ pay, the data reveal.”

Berkeley MBAs are bridging that gap. Prof. Laura Tyson, who served as the first female dean of the Haas School from 1998-2001, said the school has worked hard to enroll more women in its MBA program, and to support women in and out of the classroom.

“Our talented alumnae now earn the second-highest average salaries for women MBAs in the US; our gender pay gap has finally closed as female salaries have grown,” Tyson said. “This is exciting news and we look forward to increasing our support of our female MBA students, alumnae, our women on the faculty, and our programs like the Center for Gender, Equity & Leadership (CGEL).”

Berkeley Haas Top MBA for Women
2017 Women in Leadership Conference co-chairs Shipra Agarwal and Chiaki Nakajima, both MBA 17, got more men involved in the event.

Kellie McElhaney, founding director of CGEL, said one of the new center’s goals is to help Haas graduates—women and men—become leaders in the drive for workplace gender equity. The center was launched last fall.

Kellie McElhaney teaches "The Business Case for Investing in Women."
Kellie McElhaney teaches “The Business Case for Investing in Women.”

“Business schools must do more to highlight the workplace pay equity challenges that women face,” McElhaney said, noting that both women and men at Haas are deeply involved in both the annual Women in Leadership conference and the manbassadors—about 100 male Berkeley MBA students dedicated to fighting gender inequity as students and future workforce leaders. “We focus on equipping our female students with strategic equity tools, and we’re seeing that our early actions can produce fast wins. In addition, raising awareness with men and engaging them as allies is also critical.”

Talking equity with recruiters

Abby Scott, assistant dean of MBA career management, said her group has regular conversations with recruiters, and this includes ensuring that the recruiting process includes a representative mix of employees and other strategies for success.

Scott said the annual Haas Employer Roundtable in April will focus on diversity and inclusion, but also include a discussion on the impact of gender on salaries led by McElhaney.

Top MBAs for Women
A scene from the 2017 Women in Leadership Conference

Some other data points in this FT ranking are the percentage of female students in the most recently enrolled class (The current Full-time Berkeley MBA class is comprised of 40 percent women); career services scores and aims achieved; and the percentage of female faculty.

New Center for Gender, Equity & Leadership to launch at Haas

<em>Assoc. Adj. Professor Kellie McElhaney will serve as founding director of the new Center for Gender, Equity &amp; Leadership.</em>
Assoc. Adj. Professor Kellie McElhaney will serve as founding director of the new Center for Gender, Equity & Leadership.

Kellie McElhaney has for years built the case that when businesses fail to diversity their leadership, or don’t treat men and women equally, they risk their bottom line. Now, she’s launching a breakthrough new center to put that data—as well as the deep Haas faculty research expertise—to work.

“The economic case for supporting workplace diversity and women in business has never been stronger,” said McElhaney, an associate adjunct professor at Haas, who is launching the new Center for Gender, Equity & Leadership (CGEL) on Nov. 6. “Women, underrepresented minorities, and the LGBTQ community face systemic structural, cultural, and individual barriers to opportunities and advancement. We will work to identify and tackle these problems and develop an evidence-based playbook.”

The center’s goals include bringing leaders from diverse political and corporate backgrounds together to discuss advancing gender and diversity in policy and business; engaging male and female allies and uniting people at the intersection of all ethnicities, races, and classes around a shared goal of gender and diversity equity; and developing leaders who understand that gender is a spectrum, not a binary construct.

Four alumni who are active in gender and equity leadership will speak at the launch event: Larissa Roesch, MBA 97, vice president and portfolio manager at Dodge & Cox; Nikita Mitchell, MBA 15, founder of Above the Bottom Line & senior manager of strategy & planning at Cisco; Kate Morris, MBA 14 lead, people & inclusion at Adobe; Brandon Doll, MBA 14, vice president, strategy and business development for the Oakland Raiders. (RSVP for the launch event here)

Tapping Haas faculty research expertise

McElhaney’s leadership team includes Prof. Laura Kray, who studies gender stereotyping and negotiations, and Prof. Laura Tyson, faculty director of the Institute for Business & Social Impact, who has written extensively about how gender equality worldwide is associated with better education and health, higher per capita income, faster and more inclusive growth, and greater international competitiveness.

While the center will support and explore new research, existing research by Haas faculty members runs deep.

McElhaney, who currently teaches a course called “The Business Case for Investing in Women,” conducted 2016 research with Genevieve Smith on the zero percent pay gap between men and women at the Gap, Inc. Meantime, research by Prof. Clayton Critcher detailed the multiple negative consequences of concealing one’s sexual orientation at work; Kray’s recent work outlined how fixed beliefs about gender roles preserve the status quo; and Prof. Jennifer Chatman detailed how political correctness in the workplace encourages men and women to be more creative by reducing uncertainty in relationships.

Moving the needle

McElhaney came up with the idea for the center four years ago, and raised funds with the encouragement of Dean Rich Lyons. “I started doing research on what other schools were doing, and what we could do to truly move the needle and be disruptive,” she said. “While other schools are focusing more on diversity or counting the heads, we are focused comprehensively on inclusion in our classrooms—through our cases, our choice of course speakers, our faculty teaching methodology, and our student culture.”

McElhaney’s successful campaign led to $1.6 million in donations, including a founding corporate gift from the Gap Foundation.

CGEL has no shortage of timely issues to focus on, from pay inequity to maternity leave to the continued low representation of women in leadership roles—not to mention the daily headlines revealing the latest sexual harassment accusations in the business world. Only 5.6 percent of CEOs at S&P 500 companies are women (and as of March 2017, only two were women of color). Women account for only 20 percent of board seats and 20 percent of C-suite positions in these companies.

“The majority of CEOs include gender equity among their Top 10 priorities, yet boardrooms and C-suites are not changing quickly enough,” Lyons said. “While the commitment to diversity and an inclusive work environment is there, too few have a handle on solutions. Our new center will work toward immediate change in these areas and pave the way for future generations.”

Jamie Breen, assistant dean of the MBA program for working professionals at Haas and a CGEL founding advisory council member, said she’d like to know why the drop-off rate for women on the path to upper leadership tracks increases significantly at the VP to SVP level.

“We used to think that getting women into very senior leadership positions was a pipeline issue—if we got women into the pipeline, it would take care of itself,” she said. “We now know that is not the case. We have systemic issues, and we need to understand the unwritten rules and practices that drive these outcomes and, more importantly, how to make them explicit and change them.”

To help make these changes, the center will invite corporate leaders for round table discussions, sponsor new research, work with teams of student consultants on real-world business challenges or case competitions, place faculty as conference speakers, and provide scholarships/fellowships.

Classified: The slam-dunk case for investing in women in business

“Classified” is an occasional series spotlighting some of the more powerful lessons being taught in classrooms around Haas.

Kellie McElhaney teaches her course, "The Business Case of Investing in Women.
Assoc. Adj. Prof. Kellie McElhaney teaching a session of her course, “The Business Case for Investing in Women”

Class discussions about sex trafficking, crash test dummies designed to match male—but not female—physiology, and the challenges a breast pump company faced in attracting venture capital were unsettling.

But it wasn’t until the conversation turned to the relatively mundane acts of sexism women encounter daily—such as unwanted advances at business dinners—that Federico Locatelli, MBA 18, spoke up.

“I didn’t really understand before what women have to deal with,” said Locatelli, one of the ten men in Kellie McElhaney’s class “The Business Case for Investing in Women.” “It’s been completely mind-blowing.”

For McElhaney, an associate adjunct professor who created the course four years ago, Locatelli’s discomfort isn’t a reason to stop the conversation, but rather a justification to blow it wide open.

“This is about pushing people out of their comfort zones so that they can then become leaders who can handle uncomfortable discussions later on,” McElhaney said.

The business case for investing in women
A student makes a point during a class session.

Building a case

The idea for an MBA course focused on gender equity first came to McElhaney about a decade ago while she was serving as director of the Center for Responsible Business at Haas. McElhaney had uncovered a correlation between Fortune 500 companies’ performance on a closely-watched sustainability index and the presence of women directors on its board. That data point alone suggested there was a business case—not just an ethical one—for gender diversity in the workplace.

Kellie McElhaney teaching her course, "The Business Case for Investing in Women"Over the next few years, as the cultural conversation around women at work gathered momentum, companies started asking McElhaney for more proof of a bottom-line payoff to hiring women.

Students, too, wanted to see data. “In a very constructive way, students would say, ‘Show me the proof that gender equity really matters to a company’s overall success.’”

So, McElhaney gathered statistics which suggested companies with greater numbers of women in leadership have higher share prices and better returns on equity and investment than companies with fewer women. She cites companies like Patagonia, which has publicly detailed how its on-site childcare nearly pays for itself.

When McElhaney started the course in 2013, she structured it almost entirely around the data. The class proved so popular that students awarded her an Earl F. Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching. Next month, McElhaney is also launching the Center on Gender, Equity & Leadership to take her work to the next level.

“Kellie is a firecracker—passionate, smart, challenging, and funny,” says Jennifer Hoss, MBA 18. “She takes a very pragmatic approach of ‘nobody is asking for any favors.’ At the same time, this class is a great exercise in empathy.”

Hoss said she enjoyed seeing the diversity of opinions, even among women. “You realize that each person experiences gender issues in a different way. We have 30 different women and 30 different viewpoints on how wrong or not-wrong a situation is,” she said.

A student in Kellie McElhaney's course, "The Business Case for Investing in Women"

Exploring intersectionality

The course also delves into the added challenges that minority women encounter. McElhaney shared a breakdown of data showing that white women are making most of the workplace gains while minority groups either are flat-lining or losing ground.

Victoria Whittaker, MBA 18, who is African-American and Latina, said that when it comes to gender, race, and sexuality, “we tend to separate the issues.”

Shedding light on the intersectionality of an issue like gender helps raise awareness that there can many different experiences and perceptions that influence people’s world views, she said. “As business leaders and managers, it’s imperative that we start to recognize, think about, and appreciate all the different facets people bring when they walk into the workplace,” she said.

Are diversity and inclusion valued?

Many of McElhaney’s students, including Locatelli, are intent on using their newfound awareness to advocate for women. “Students—and this is also true for the companies I talk to—understand the data,” McElhaney said. “Now they want tools to create change.”

One assignment McElhaney gives students is to write formal assessments of a company’s track record on the hiring, retention, and promotion of women. The head of global HR at Airbnb was so impressed with a student presentation—which McElhaney sent unsolicited—that she asked the students to speak to company executives about it.

Students also discuss real-life workplace issues with guest speakers.

In October, a speaker admitted how shocked he was when a valued female executive at his company disclosed in her exit interview that she didn’t feel as though diversity and inclusion were valued. Looking to uncover insights like these sooner, he instituted “stay” interviews for current employees.

A student in Kellie McElhaney's course "The Business Case for Investing in Women"

Designing a personal leadership strategy

McElhaney also challenges students to consider their own experiences with gender discrimination or harassment, including how they’ve responded to past incidents and how they could have reacted differently. For a session that delved into how men impact gender issues, students were required to bring a male friend to observe the class.

Finally, students create a detailed personal leadership strategy.

“You’re at Haas to learn about business strategy,” McElhaney tells students. “You’re also here to learn leadership skills. So, how are you going to build gender awareness into your leadership style?”

Lydia Cole, EWMBA 18, came to the class looking for facts and figures to help her self-advocate in her career. She’s learned instead that proof of women’s value in the workplace won’t be as important as her ability to lead by example.

“My attitude before was cynical,” said Cole. “Kellie’s class has taught me how to be a better employee, a better manager, a better leader, and a better person.”

Ellen Pao shares experiences of workplace discrimination and how to fight it

Ellen Pao speaks at Haas on diversity and inclusion in tech.
Ellen Pao spoke on diversity & inclusion in tech and beyond. Photo credit: Genevieve Shiffrar

While serving as interim CEO at Reddit, Ellen Pao tried a new system for salary negotiations: Everyone was assigned to a band based on their experience and skills, and they were then offered compensation at the top of their bands—a strategy aimed at leveling the playing field for women and minorities.

“It was very time-consuming…but you felt better when you gave an offer. And we would cut out one or two weeks of awkwardness [in negotiations],” said Pao, who also banned revenge porn posts and unauthorized nude photos while at Reddit.

On a mission

Pao has been on a mission to fight discrimination since she rocked the tech world with her 2012 gender bias suit against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers. She spoke about diversity and inclusion at Haas last week in an event co-hosted by The Berkeley Forum and Asian-Americans@Haas—a new MBA-student affinity group.

Pao now serves as chief diversity and inclusion officer at the Kapor Center for Social Impact, and last month released “Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change,” a chronicle of her journey through her unsuccessful lawsuit and ongoing attempt to change how the tech and business worlds view women, ethnicity, race, and culture.

Co-hosted by MBA & undergrad student groups

MBA students Carolyn Chuong and Nolan Chao, both MBA 18, said they felt lucky to host Pao for their group’s inaugural event. They had a classmate who recently interned at Kapor Capital, and they made a successful call to her publicist. Pao had also gotten an invitation from The Berkeley Forum, an undergraduate group that brings speakers to campus, so they decided to work together.

Carolyn Chuong and Nolan Chao, MBA 18, introduce Ellen Pao
MBA students Carolyn Chuong and Nolan Chao of Asian-Americans@Haas introduced Pao. Photo credit: Genevieve Shiffrar

During her talk, moderated by Berkeley sophomore Shaina Zuber for The Berkeley Forum, Pao talked about the crucial importance of workplace relationships in career-building. Though she was serving as a junior partner while at Kleiner Perkins, she said she found herself being excluded from emails, decision-making and executive dinners.

“I didn’t realize until much, much later that … those dinners with partners were different than dinners with peers,” she said. “Throughout my career, there would be little things I noticed but brushed off.”

Ellen Pao spoke on diversity and inclusion in tech.
After a moderated conversation, Pao took questions from students. Photo credit: Genevieve Shiffrar

Working to get women included 

During seven years at Kleiner Perkins, Pao said she observed signs of gender inequality in the form of all-male dinners or periods when all the men got promoted. None of the women, who seemed to have more education and work experience, received promotions, she said.

Despite evidence showing that the women’s investments were doing better than the men’s, for example, women were not being rewarded the same way, she said.

“That was a signal to me that something was wrong,” Pao added.

Pao remembered her time during the Kleiner Perkins lawsuit as a very lonely one. Her colleagues at the firm were afraid to talk to her and avoided her at the workplace. But people reached out through emails outside of work, sharing their own experiences of gender discrimination.

Last year, Pao co-founded consulting nonprofit Project Include to help technology companies implement diversity and inclusion strategies.

“Everyone has a voice. There is a systemic problem where people are not being included. And we need to change the whole system so everybody gets included fairly,” Pao said.

Ellen Pao spoke at Berkeley-Haas on diversity and inclusion in tech.
Photo credit: Genevieve Shiffrar


Chuong and Chao formed Asian-Americans@Haas with several other classmates last spring to bring attention to the Asian-American perspective in a business world still mostly led by white males in top positions. They plan to host workshops, social events, and speakers, and are also connecting with undergraduates, Chuong said.

“There are a lot of stereotypes that plague Asians in the workplace,” Chuong said. “Nolan and I felt like there wasn’t a dedicated group to the Asian-American community at Haas, which was quite surprising. Part of it is just to do some relationship-building.”

Check out the video of Pao’s talk.


Women’s 21st Century Leadership Course Attracts Global Students

Students from eight business schools around the world are converging at Berkeley-Haas next week to tackle topics from kick-starting women’s workplace negotiations to mastering the skills they require to lead. The intensive five-day program, Women’s 21st Century Leadership, is the first offered at Berkeley-Haas through the Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM).

GNAM, a consortium of 29 business schools led by the Yale School of Management, oversees the Global Network Weeks, designed to give students from member schools a short, intense introduction to a subject and a chance to learn with peers from around the world.

Berkeley-Haas students can attend reciprocal courses offered on GNAM members’ campuses around the world. Berkeley-Haas joined GNAM in 2015.

“In a global world, leaders who possess complex skills are critical, which is why I am passionate about GNAM and its potential,” said Adj. Prof. Kristiana Raube, executive director of the International Business Development Program and the Institute for Business & Social Impact at Berkeley-Haas.

Right time, right place

Prof. Laura Kray is teaching the Women's 21st Century Leadership course.
Laura Kray

Prof. Laura Kray, the Warren E. and Carol Spieker Chair in Leadership, will teach the course, offered by the Berkeley MBA for Executives program. The curriculum includes cutting-edge research, team exercises, feedback with guest lecturers, and company visits to Pandora and Salesforce for 33 students from the US, Ghana, Ireland, China, Germany, Spain, and Mexico.

“This is the right time and the right place to bring together a talented, motivated, and diverse set of rising-star leaders from across the globe,” Kray said. “Our work together will center around clarifying their leadership vision and developing skills to support their leadership in making the world safer, fairer, and better for all. Our goal is to accomplish real change in their leadership capacity in a short time. By developing the group’s collective intelligence through self-reflection, role play exercises, and peer coaching, the sky’s the limit in terms of what we can achieve.”

Thanh Cao, EMBA 17, who is taking the co-ed course, hopes to learn from students around the world.  “It’s easy to see what’s in front of you, but having students from other schools and countries in the same class really gives you a new perspective,” she said.

Guest speakers include Prof. Laura Tyson, faculty director of the Institute for Business & Social Impact, who will discuss her extensive gender research that speaks to the need for change. Carolyn Buck-Luce, managing partner at Hewlett Consulting Partners and co-founder/executive-in-residence at the Center for Talent Innovation, and Sally Thornton, founder & CEO of talent firm Forshay, will also speak.