Haas School of Business

First-Person

Kellie McElhaney

Kellie McElhaney

Adjunct Assistant Professor
Center for Responsible Business

Kellie McElhaney: Initiatives in Social Responsibility and Women in Business

Kellie McElhaney is the John C. Whitehead Faculty Fellow as well as the founding Faculty Director of the Berkeley-Haas Center for Responsible Business.

At the time of its launch in 2003, the Center for Responsible Business was one of the nation's first business-school programs to integrate the goals of social and environmental sustainability with the business models of for-profit corporations. In the decade since then, it has won repeated international acclaim and produced many path-breaking social entrepreneurs and corporate executives.

McElhaney is perhaps best known for creating classes that combine the theory of strategic corporate social responsibility with hands-on consulting projects at companies such as Microsoft, Nike, Gap Inc., Hewlett-Packard, and Altria. At some companies, those projects have become part of the core business strategy.

A teacher, author and consultant, McElhaney has written extensively on the alignment of corporate social responsibility with for-profit objectives and core competencies. She is a leading thinker on the branding value of corporate social responsibility, as well as on the use of social media to enhance the impact of CSR programs. In addition to numerous academic papers, she is the author of a definitive book in the field: Just Good Business: The Strategic Guide to Aligning Corporate Responsibility and Brand.

McElhaney is a champion of research on the impact of women and gender parity in business. In 2012, she launched a new course, Women in Business, which explores the links between women's leadership, improved financial performance and overall economic growth. Her most recent study, also in 2012, showed that firms with more women leaders performed better on a host of indicators of social and environmental responsibility.

A strong believer in bridging the gap between academics and the real world of business, McElhaney is a frequent consultant to Global 1000 companies. Her client list includes HP, Gap, eBay, McDonalds, Levi Strauss, Walmart, Target, Ford Motor Company, PG&E, Ulster Bank (Ireland), Kimberly-Clark, StatoilHydro (Norway), Yum! Brands, Chevron, and ING.

The Institute for Business &Social Impact is now launching a strategic initiative on women and business that will be co-led by McElhaney and Laura Kray, a longtime scholar on women in management at the Berkeley-Haas Management of Organizations Group. The plan includes original research, classes, a speaker series, alumni engagement and seminars with leading corporate executives.

"Laura Kray and I will look at what is the impact of more diversity, more investment in women, and more gender-forward practices in the workplace," says McElhaney, noting that corporations such as Walmart and Coca-Cola have already invested heavily in programs to expand the ranks of women entrepreneurs and corporate leaders.

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