Chief Diversity Officers Greg Jones (center) of United, and Patricia Sowell Harris (right) of McDonald’s discuss the value of business diversity and inclusion with moderator Lourdes Duarte (left), WGN-TV anchor and DePaul alumna, during the "Celebrate Diversity at Driehaus" event.
leaders, business professors and students gathered to celebrate the diversity
of DePaul University’s business school faculty and the value of diversity in
business during a fireside chat and reception hosted by the Driehaus College of Business Nov.
at Driehaus” was held in conjunction with the PhD Project’s 2015 national
conference in Chicago. The New Jersey-based non-profit organization’s mission
is to advance workplace diversity by recruiting minority professionals to
become business school professors. The
DePaul event recognized the Driehaus College of Business for hiring the most PhD
Project alumni to join its faculty among universties across the country, excluding Historically Black Colleges and
“This is a
very important day not only for Driehaus and DePaul, but also for the climate
we’re in,” said Stephani Mason, a DePaul assistant professor of accountancy and
PhD Project alumna who organized the program. “It’s a perfect time to discuss
why this matters, why it’s an imperative for business, and why DePaul is in the
forefront of this effort.”
the PhD Project has quadrupled the number of minority professors teaching at
business schools since it was founded in 1994, said Bernie Milano, president of
the KPMG Foundation, which launched the initiative. A diverse faculty creates an environment in
which students of color feel that they belong and encourages them to achieve
academically and professionally, he said.
“To see someone like you, that’s inspiring for students.”
initiative is especially important for universities like DePaul, where 34
percent of students come from underrepresented groups, said Ray Whittington, dean
of the Driehaus College of Business. “We’re proud to join forces with the PhD
Project to encourage this powerful ripple effect that benefits students,
business schools and the business community.”
Creating an Environment of Inclusion
event’s fireside chat, moderated by WGN-TV Anchor Lourdes Duarte, a DePaul
alumna (CMN ’99), guest speakers Patricia Sowell Harris, chief diversity
officer at McDonald’s, and Greg Jones, chief diversity officer at United
Airlines, emphasized the value of creating
an inclusive business environment.
“We used to
say that diversity is the nice thing to do, the right thing to do, but now we
say it’s an imperative,” Harris said. “It starts in the boardroom…You have to
make sure that you not only have diversity, but also that you’re doing the kind
of things that make sure that everyone is included and heard.”
that workplace diversity has evolved from being framed as a legal issue to
becoming an integral part of leadership. “You need to be able to lead people
who are different from you,” he said. “If you can lead only 60 percent of your
team, then there’s a question as to whether you can lead.”
also need to reflect the consumers they serve, said Harris, author of
the book “None of Us is As Good As All of Us: How McDonald’s Prospers by
Embracing Inclusion and Diversity.”
“If we want to represent our customer base,
we must hire from our diverse customer base,” she said.
One audience member asked the speakers what evidence proves that diversity is a benefit for business.
studies indicate diversity brings value, Stephani Mason responded. “The empirical
literature finds that firms with diverse boards tend to outperform those that
benefit for business is that “a mindset that supports difference can drive
innovation,” Jones said.
diversity in business has evolved, the speakers cautioned that American
business still has work to do, especially in increasing the representation of women
and people of color in the boardroom.
“We have to
continue the conversation. If we only talk about it in our little clique, it
won’t have an effect,” Harris said. “Diversity is not a destination. It’s a