Erika Hayes James

We must continue to work hard in higher education, business on issues of gender equality

It’s been just more than a year since I issued a call to the Atlanta business community to step up efforts in gender equality. I’m very grateful to the Atlanta Business Chronicle for publishing an op-ed and continuing to take time to recognize “women who mean business.”

Our own efforts at the business school include hosting the annual, #GoizuetaENGAGE Conference – a chance for corporate partners, alumni and current and prospective students to gather for conversation and inspiration.

We formed the conference to support the WE:ENGAGE Initiative – a focus on improving diversity programs and educating women on opportunities stemming from business education. Our school has taken a stand on this issue, committing to dialogue in support of women in industry and higher education as a whole, including graduate schools across Emory University.

I’m glad to report progress.

In the past year, the business school raised the percentage of women in the Full-Time MBA program by 6 percent. We also welcomed students from 22 different countries. Since 2014, 15 female tenure or tenure-track faculty members have been hired, including six of 12 hired in Fall 2017. Four of our six PhD graduates hired by universities in 2016 are women.

But, speaking candidly, this is not good enough. Higher education and businesses of many industries have work to do.

Every day we step into situations that require particular attention to the task at hand. We must maintain the commitment to collaboratively create “a new normal” for women in business.

The numbers are already here.

According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, in 2015, more than 9.4 million firms in the U.S. are owned by women. Those firms employ nearly 7.9 million people and account for 31 percent of all privately held organizations.

Yet we still encounter stories in the paper, online, on the radio and at the water cooler that paint disjointed pictures of treatment, opportunity and pay. There are also divisions and allegations in politics that, while presenting an unfortunate opportunity to increase conversation and productive dialogue, too often present setbacks to our cause.

I’ve spoken with many deans and business leaders, male and female, about the issues. We share ideas on building and strengthening the pipeline of female students and understand business schools are an important source of tomorrow’s great leaders. But, to create lasting change, business and business schools should strive for better alignment. Higher education brings a unique perspective on the future workforce and thought leaders eager to discover solutions.

I believe there is power in bringing like-minded people together for a common cause. This is where #GoizuetaENGAGE and YOU can make a difference.

If you are an alumnus, partner to one of Goizueta’s programs or just a member of the business community looking to spark change, I hope you can join us for #GoizuetaENGAGE 2017 Dec. 8. At the Loew’s Hotel in Midtown Atlanta.

We all want to see more women in the classroom, create welcoming environments at work and empower women with knowledge and confidence for advancing careers.

Let’s continue the effort. Together.

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