In our hyper-polarized society, the role of business has become a fundamental issue made even more critical by recent research suggesting business is now the most trusted institution - and the *only* institution viewed as both ethical and competent - ahead of government, the media and even NGOs. Not only is public trust high in business, the data also show that the public is looking for business to help solve some of society’s most pressing challenges.
Complicating this picture is the high degree of polarization in society, which ensures nearly every issue becomes politicized making it difficult to move forward. With one out of every two adults in the U.S. employed by business, companies have an important platform to reduce polarization itself and improve the conditions for civil discourse. Companies face increasing pressure to play a role in social issues or to take a public stand, so we must prepare future leaders to navigate within this context.
In response Fuqua is fostering an initiative to engage and activate the business community. The Dialogue Project at Duke is developing topical conversations between our faculty and business leaders, exploring the creation of case studies and other educational content, enabling access to senior executives for our students, gaining exposure to ideas and industry best practices, and identifying data for faculty research.
The Dialogue Project at Duke
Every day, successful businesses bring people together with diverse experiences and points-of-view to work toward common goals. The Dialogue Project, a long-term Fuqua initiative to explore the role business can play to reduce polarization and improve civic dialogue, explores how these skills can be expanded more broadly in our society. Our goal is to equip business leaders with new tools required to succeed in the emerging stakeholder economy.
As we confront the long history of racism in the United States, Fuqua collectively committed to leading the way in our industry, our community and in each of our lives in being anti-racist.
We believe accountability is essential to these efforts, and we have been examining all dimensions of our business practices as a result. Our Fuqua Anti-Racism (FAR) Initiative is a permanent team responsible for institutionalizing this work across our organization: Dean Bill Boulding; Stephanie Robertson, Assistant Dean for Community Engagement and Inclusion; and Professor Rick Larrick, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
We are reporting the school's progress on an annual basis, understanding that transparency will help us learn from one another. We hope other schools and businesses will choose to share their efforts in a way that helps us all identify best practices in eliminating systemic biases.
Fuqua Anti-Racism Scorecard
In the Fall of 2020, Fuqua's Racial Equity Working Group recommended the school publish an annual scorecard that documents progress, or lack thereof, in Fuqua's anti-racism efforts. This report documents the school's progress in the areas of representation, our curriculum and co-curricular activity, work in our community and in partnership with other organizations, pipeline building, and faculty research. Review the 2021-2022 Scorecard.
Fuqua Research Insights
In this series, seven Fuqua faculty members go deep on their research in the underlying issues of fairness, justice and race. They explore racism from a variety of angles, including how to have conversations about these topics at work, why bias persists and how systemic racism is perpetuated in unconscious ways in financial markets.
Business schools have the opportunity to make tremendous impact in how future leaders think about ensuring equal treatment in the workforce, and Fuqua has made this a priority in our own institution as well as across our industry.
We have been actively leading the charge for gender equity in business education since Dean Bill Boulding first joined a small White House task force on the topic in 2014. A year later, that group identified best practices for business schools in supporting women and working families, adopted by about 50 business schools.
We have also taken deliberate action to make our programs more accessible to working families. Our students also work directly with our deans in finding ways to encourage more women to apply to our programs and to make sure they feel supported and included when they join our community.
We are fortunate to be guided by faculty expertise which has sparked conversations on these topics throughout the world.
We redesigned our Weekend Executive MBA program to make it more accessible for working parents, reducing travel commitments down to one required in-person residency on campus each month. We also created a hybrid option for the second monthly residency, allowing students to choose whether to travel and participate in person or instead to attend their live classes virtually. In addition to reducing travel costs, these innovations provided flexibility for work and family commitments and enabled participation by students who couldn’t realistically travel twice a month. We feel this change helped to increase program access for many students and was beneficial particularly for working parents. Our hope is that this will continue to increase representation of women in the program.
We teach what we preach. Leading diversity scholar Ashleigh Shelby Rosette started a course bringing men and women together to talk about gender equity from their personal perspectives. Students have given the course rave reviews in helping them examine their own personal biases and understand what allyship means to them.
Gender Equity Working Group
We are proud to have a student-led Gender Equity Working Group working closely with our deans and other leaders to recommend ways we can continue to grow the number of talented women who enter our community and to better support their goals.
Fuqua Research Insights
Fuqua research on the intersection of gender and business has inspired international conversation. In one notable finding, two of our professors discovered the unintended consequences of telling women to “lean in” at work and how that was putting a burden on women to solve inequity.
Innovation requires that the best and brightest talent can study – and ultimately work – where they choose. As a pipeline for talent to U.S. companies, the nation’s business schools have been early indicators of concerning trends in student mobility that have downstream implications for business itself. We are leading initiatives explaining the importance of immigration to economic competitiveness, and taking action to support our international students.
Talent Mobility Initiative
During his time as Chairperson of the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) Board, Dean Bill Boulding launched an effort to build awareness about the connection between talent mobility and economic competitiveness globally, with the hope of generating media attention and conversations with policy makers to support positive change. In the United States, he rallied more than 70 business school deans and CEOs to sign an open letter to government leaders calling for urgent immigration reform in the national economic interest, and met with federal legislators on both sides of the aisle to build awareness about the need for reform.
The centerpiece of this effort was the development of a white paper leveraging economic research and subject matter expertise that examines how talent mobility connects to economic competitiveness with a review of the U.S., U.K., India, China and Canada. GMAC data on application trends and surveys of where students want to study combined to create a compelling look at which regions are winning the talent race. The paper recommends policies to encourage mobility globally, with specific recommendations in the U.S. Many of the policy recommendations relate to ways students can secure work permission after graduation.
Our open letter to U.S. leadership calling for urgent high-skilled immigration reform in the national economic interest included signatures from 50 business school deans and 13 CEOs. The deans who signed represent all different kinds of institutions: publics and privates, large and small, global elites and local players – and from every region of the country. We delivered the letter to policy makers in the White House and on Capitol Hill, it ran as a full-page ad in the D.C. edition of The Wall Street Journal, and it was featured in coverage in outlets including The Washington Post, NPR Marketplace, and Poets & Quants.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
In summer 2020 as the U.S. administration discussed ending Optional Practical Training (OPT), a program which enables international students to gain work experience while remaining in the U.S. on their student visa, Fuqua reactivated the deans’ network. Dean Bill Boulding encouraged the deans to connect with their own networks and engage with their federal representatives, to share concerns about changes to this program and the negative impact it would have on economic growth. Ultimately, the program was not eliminated.
Continuing his attempt to raise awareness of the importance of high-skilled immigration to economic development, Dean Boulding has also submitted a letter to the Department of Homeland Security advocating against an effort to enact additional restrictions on student visas – explaining again the importance of talent mobility to our national economy. The larger university has also been advocating against a proposed rule change.
Fuqua Volunteer Corps (FVC)
As part of our support of international students we launched a Fuqua Volunteer Corps program for current students and recent alumni, matching them to volunteer opportunities with non-profits suffering as a result of the pandemic. For some international students, the program also helped fulfill work requirements to be able to stay in the U.S. during a period when their job start date may have been delayed due to the pandemic or as they continued to search for work.
Students have shared how much the school’s advocacy for international students in this time of uncertainty has meant to them.
Developed by Dean Bill Boulding during the Talent Mobility Initiative, this white paper paints a comprehensive view of mobility issues and their implications for economic development in several regions of the world, in particular the U.S., U.K, Canada, China and India. Informed by economic research, application data, business school leaders, domain experts, and other sources, the report makes policy recommendations on both a global and U.S. level to encourage mobility. Many of the policy recommendations relate to ways students can secure work permission after graduation.