“You don’t have to always be nice, but you have to always be kind.” – Professor Kellie McElhaney

Berkeley Women in Business (BWIB) hosted an event with Haas Professor Kellie McElhaney to introduce the new Center for Gender, Equity and Leadership! The new Center launched in November, thanks to a lot of donors! The Center will focus on creating new curriculum and taking a look at creating more classes focused on these important topics. The Center for Gender, Equity and Leadership is also focused on a lot of research. It looks at what campuses do in the admissions process. It put together an unconscious guide for professors to look at bias and culture. It collects a lot of data to really drive the business case for investing in women. The second part is creating a conversation around racial inclusion. Finally the Center is going to be a hub for a lot of activity – an organizational home. For example, it is launching the first Diversity & Inclusion Pitch Competition very soon!

Professor McElhaney is a distinguished teaching fellow at Haas who founded the new Center for Gender, Equity and Leadership. She has also founded the Center for Responsible Business, developed the gender equity strategy for Haas and is responsible for increasing female MBA matriculates. Kellie McElhaney keynotes, consults and develops executive education for Global 1000 companies over the world, developing integrated sustainability and women’s investment strategies. She has also delivered a TEDTalk on these topics, and wrote a book. Talk about accomplished!


What continues to inspire you everyday?

I am a mom of two daughters. Being a mom makes me who I am and is why I do the work that I do. I came to Haas to start something. At the time, the current Dean Laura Tyson let me come on a 1 year leave to try moving to California. I started the Center of Responsible Business –  focusing strategies surrounding corporate sustainability.

Sometimes my work surrounding the gender gap can discouraging. But, my daughters definitely inspire me because I see them fight for things everyday. I also get the most amazing comments back from students. I have a lot of students who have created diversity programs in many companies. I want to fight harder because I know I’m not going at it alone. Being a change agent is not for the faint at heart. I am a big fan of incremental changes or nudges.

I followed my passion and took a risk, and was able to launch the new center.

What is the business case for investing in women?

Many businesses are saying that it’s the right thing to do. But I need to start with the ROI data. It proves that firms with at least 1 women in their companies or board – rated by Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley – are better at managing resources, managing people and it’s better for environment, which ends up saving the company money. It’s better for companies’ share prices, better ROI and better for the global GDP.  ______________________________________________________________________

BWIB is an undergraduate business organization focused on professional development and empowerment for women. We work to provide resources, education for male and female students to create a better business environment for the whole community.

Thank you Ana Mancia for hosting such a lovely event! Check out the new Center for Gender, Equity and Leadership, especially if you want to get involved. I know I will!

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