New Haas Center Seeks to Tackle Gender, Equity, and Leadership


Kellie A. McElhaney, Laura Kray, and Laura Tyson launch New Haas Center

Professor Kellie McElhaney talking
Originally published on Metro MBA 
As one headline after another alleges sexual harassment against women by men in power from Hollywood to Congress, the launch earlier this month UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business of a new Center for Gender, Equity, and Leadership (CGEL) seems more timely than ever. In fact, the idea for the center significantly predated the current media firestorm—and while its scope will certainly include sexual harassment, it will be significantly wider—addressing issues ranging from the persistent gender pay gap to inadequate maternity leave to the fact that currently only 5.6 percent of CEOs at S&P 500 companies are women.
Since 2014, Kellie McElhaney has been teaching a course at Haas called “The Business Case for Investing in Women.” Regularly over-subscribed, the immensely popular class won McElhaney, an associate adjunct professor at Haas, the Earl F. Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching. Students in the class were eager for data demonstrating that companies with greater numbers of women in leadership have higher share prices and better returns on equity and investment than companies with fewer women. In fact, so too were companies. And McElhaney delivered.
Together in a 2016 study with Genevieve Smith of the International Center for Research on Women’s advisory practice, McElhaney zeroed in on how Gap Inc. has managed to achieve pay equity at the like-for-like level and equal pay at the organizational level through its company culture, practices, and policies. The relationships that helped spur that research also led the Gap Foundation to become a founding corporate donor of the new center—contributing part of the $1.9 million McElhaney has raised to date, which also includes gifts from alumni and friends. With an ultimate fundraising goal of $10 million, McElhaney hopes CGEL will bring together leaders.
To learn more about the Center for Gender, Equity, and Leadership (CGEL), visit Metro MBA.