As an economist, policy-maker, professor, and former dean, Laura Tyson has long been a leading champion of ways to re-think the role of business in society.
Tyson is professor of business administration and economics, and a former dean, at the Haas School of Business and London Business School. An expert on trade and competitiveness, she served as Chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers and later as Director of the White House National Economic Council. She was the first woman to serve in these two positions. In the years since, she helped Berkeley Haas become a pioneer in what is now the booming field of corporate social responsibility and social entrepreneurship. As a an advisor and board director for both Fortune 500 corporations and major non-profit organizations, Tyson has spent much of her career working for positive social change in the for-profit sector, non-profit sector and public sector.
Blending Business with Social Change
During her tenure as Dean at Berkeley Haas from 1998 to 2001, Tyson launched two of the nation’s earliest programs to link traditional MBA training with broader social goals. She raised the funds and recruited the leadership to launch the Center for Responsible Business. The center has become an internationally acclaimed program, giving students hands-on experience working with companies to incorporate social and environmental goals into their core business strategies.
Working with the Berkeley Haas students, Tyson launched the Global Social Venture Competition. Today students from around the world participate in the competition, which offers $50,000 in prizes and mentoring to pioneering nonprofit entrepreneurs. Recent winners include a Bangladeshi venture that produces a low-cost building material made from jute and a Kenyan bio-gas start-up that offers rural villages a cheaper and cleaner alternative to charcoal or kerosene.
In recent years, Tyson has devoted some of her policy attention to the links between women’s rights and national economic performance. She co-chairs the World Economic Forum’s Council on Women’s Empowerment and is the co-author of the Global Gender Gap Report, which ranks nations on economic, political, education and health gender gaps. As the director of the Institute, she is launching an initiative on women in business and the links between gender parity and national economic performance.
Tyson is also working on nurturing innovative strategies to harness the strength of market capitalism in tackling global environmental and developmental challenges. She chairs the board of trustees of UC Berkeley’s Blum Center on Developing Economies, which focuses on designing technology for the world’s poorest communities. She is also on the board of Generation Investment Management, a company founded by former Vice President Al Gore. Generation invests in companies tackling environmental and sustainability challenges.
“I am honored to serve as the inaugural director of the Institute for Business & Social Impact. The institute reflects the long tradition at Haas of cultivating business leaders committed to building a more prosperous and sustainable society for all.”