Past P3 Impact Award Winner, Microsoft, to Bring Internet Access to Two Million Rural Americans

By Laura Hennessey Martens

Approximately 23.4 million rural Americans do not have access to the Internet

Recently, Microsoft announced plans to reach the 23.4 million rural Americans who currently to do not have access to the Internet, committing to provide broadband connectivity to two million under-served Americans over the next five years.

The announcement is part of the company’s strategy to eliminate what it refers to as the “rural broadband gap” in the United States – an issue that Microsoft President & Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith calls “a problem that is receiving a great deal of attention, but not many solutions.”

Lacking access to the Internet causes a host of social, financial and economic penalties, including negative effects upon one’s education, job performance, employment searches, civic engagement, online commerce and more.

According to Smith, “[Broadband connectivity] is no longer simply a luxury…It has become a critical connection to a better education and living.”

“New cloud services are making broadband a necessity to start and grow a small business and take advantage of advances in agriculture, telemedicine and education. In short, broadband has become a vital part of 21st century infrastructure,” says Smith.

Despite the widespread need for broadband access and the many benefits it bestows, connecting millions of under-served Americans to the Internet has remained a distant aspiration due to impediments such as technological challenges, market and regulatory conditions, and high costs.

However, Microsoft believes it has found a way to overcome these challenges and finally move the needle on providing broadband access throughout rural America. And – based on the company’s past experimentation and track record – it has good reason to be hopeful.

So just how will Microsoft accomplish its goal?

Over the past several years, Microsoft engaged in public-private partnerships (P3s) around the globe that piloted a technology that taps unused television broadcast frequencies (or “TV White Space”) to extend high-speed, wireless Internet access to remote areas. One of the partnerships piloting the technology in the Philippines received global recognition and the 2015 P3 Impact Award sponsored by the Darden School’s Institute for Business in Society, Concordia and the U.S. Department of State Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships.

Each year, the three partners present the P3 Impact Award, which recognizes and honors leading public-private partnerships that improve communities and the world. Inaugurated in 2014, the P3 Impact Award seeks the applications of exemplary P3s from around the globe and, after a competitive selection process, announces the winner each fall at the Concordia Summit in New York, New York.

The TV White Space Partnership, including Microsoft, won the 2015 P3 Impact Award

The winner of the 2015 P3 Impact Award, the TV White Space Partnership, was a public-private partnership between Microsoft, USAID and the Philippines’ Department of Science and Technology and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. Under this partnership, USAID tested the use of TV White Space to enable a mobile, online system to formally register fisherfolk in the remote areas of Bohol province. Fisherfolk registration is a key step toward sustainable fisheries management, and it allows fisherfolk to access vital government services, including health care, insurance and poverty alleviation funds.

The experiment, and the TV White Space Partnership, was a success.

Since TV White Space connectivity was established in the Philippines in April 2014, thousands of fisherfolk were registered in the pilot municipalities. Government counterparts began to use this new registration data to design and deploy better fisheries management interventions. Further, more than 3,000 schoolchildren in 20 schools now have Internet access via TV White Space, and when a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Bohol in October 2013, the technology was the only available means of communication for post-disaster relief and rehabilitation efforts.

The Philippines is just one TV White Space success story for Microsoft: the technology giant now boasts 20 TV White Space projects in 17 countries that have served 185,000 users.

And now, Microsoft is turning its attention to under-served rural America to benefit from this low-cost, but effective, technology. The company estimates that using TV White Spaces costs 80 per cent less than building wired infrastructure.

The planned initiative will follow a public-private partnership model, much like the TV White Space Partnership in the Philippines, engaging the private sector through telecommunications companies, the public sector through the FCC and federal and state infrastructure investments, and the social sector through Microsoft Philanthropies, among other partners.

“The time is right for the nation to set a clear and ambitious but achievable goal – to eliminate the rural broadband gap within the next five years by July 4, 2022,” said Smith. “We believe the nation can bring broadband coverage to rural America in this timeframe, based on a new strategic approach that combines private sector capital investments focused on expanding broadband coverage through new technologies, coupled with targeted and affordable public-sector support.”

Prof. Mary Margaret Frank presents the P3 Impact Award at the Concordia Summit

Professor Mary Margaret Frank, an academic director of the Institute for Business in Society who leads the center’s P3 Impact Award and multi-sector collaboration efforts, said, “It’s extremely rewarding to see one of our past P3 Impact Award winners using their success and expertise to help under-served communities and improve society.”

“We can’t wait to follow the progress of Microsoft’s newest initiative to provide broadband connectivity to millions of Americans who do not have access to this critical technology. It just goes to show that when purpose-driven companies identify a need, and then partner with the public and social sectors to help address that need, social progress and impact can be achieved. And that’s good for all of us.”

Read more about the TV White Space partnership in a case study by Professor Jeremy Hutchison-Krupat in Darden Business Publishing, Connecting the Dots at Microsoft: Global Planning for a Local World, published January 30, 2017.

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Teaching Business Ethics Through the Lens of the Holocaust

Professor Mary Gentile Co-Leads Business School Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics

“Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory, there would be no civilization, no society, no future.”

~ Elie Wiesel, Nobel Laureate & Holocaust Survivor

 

To prepare students for their future roles as business professionals, many professors and classroom experiences reference examples from former leaders and past history. But none invoke the lessons of the past quite like the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE).

FASPE is a fellowship program for graduate students and early-stage professionals that addresses contemporary ethical issues through the unique historical context of the Holocaust. These fellowships take business, journalism, law, medical and seminary students on a 12-day trip to Germany and Poland — where the actions of professionals during the Holocaust and in Nazi Germany serve as a backdrop for an intensive course of study on the current ethical challenges in their fields. FASPE invokes the power of place — the first-hand experience of visiting Auschwitz and other historic sites — to engage fellows in applying the lessons of history to the ethical issues they face today.

The 2017 FASPE business ethics program was co-led by Darden Professor Mary Gentile, creator/director of the globally-recognized Giving Voice to Values (GVV) curriculum, and Professor Markus Scholz, Endowed Chair of Corporate Governance and Business Ethics at the University of Applied Sciences of the WKW in Vienna. GVV is an innovative approach to values-driven leadership that offers practical exercises, cases, modules, scripts and teaching plans for handling a wide range of ethical conflicts in the workplace.

Darden MBA student Kyle Perez was one of the 12 business students chosen to participate in this year’s program, selected from more than 1,000 applicants around the world.

We recently interviewed Professor Gentile for the first of a two-part series on the unique teaching experiences provided by the FASPE program. A follow-up Q&A will feature the learning environment and lessons as experienced by Mr. Perez.

1) How is the Holocaust relevant to today’s business leaders?

It might seem sometimes that applying lessons from history to current challenges – particularly such a dark and tragic chapter in history as the Holocaust – may be overly simplistic or even exploitative. I must admit that when the FASPE organizers first approached me about bringing my work with “Giving Voice To Values” into their program, I was concerned that trying to talk about contemporary challenges to values-driven leadership development in the context of this horror would feel too jarring, too disconnected for business students and practitioners to be able to draw any meaningful lessons.

However, I decided to give it a try for 2 reasons:

First, at a selfish level, I wanted to “test” my work with GVV. I wanted to see if, in the face of such deep and critical moral challenges, whether GVV even made any difference, any sense.

And second, I realized that when confronted with the terrible ability of human beings to do evil, we all need some lifeline to hang on to, some bread crumb trail to follow, some glimmer of hope and potential moral efficacy…and I wanted to be sure that the participants in FASPE had that lifeline.

2) How does place-based learning and the settings and history of this fellowship add to the teaching experience? How is it different from teaching in a classroom?

Confronting the actual locations, the physical evidence, whether that is a station platform where so many Jews and others boarded trains to their death like Track 17 in Berlin or the disturbingly lovely and serene House of Wannsee where Nazi officials planned the logistics for the “Final Solution,” makes it difficult to relegate the events we are discussing to ‘The Past.’ These places still exist, just as the human impacts and the human motivations that engendered this history still exist.

Faculty and fellows at the 2017 FASPE program in Germany and Poland

3)    How did the cross-functional aspect of this fellowship (bringing together business, law and journalism students) help enrich the teaching and lessons?

Although many of the FASPE case discussions are conducted within each of the three professions, the travel and visits to historical sites are conducted as a larger group and there are a number of cross-profession discussions as well. This provides a rare opportunity to see ourselves and our work through the eyes of those with whom we often work and whom we sometimes view as potential obstacles to our objectives.
As might be expected, stereotypes and critical assumptions about each other’s work and motivations become visible at times, but the fact that we are in a group of future leaders who all self-selected to develop their ability to act on their values, provides the foundation for a cross-profession dialogue that is all too rare and absolutely essential in an increasingly divided, partisan and trust-challenged world.

4)    What are some of the key lessons you try to instill through teaching in the FASPE program?

I want FASPE fellows to recognize that our potential for good and ill is ever present, ever tangible, ever relevant; that the past is never just the past; that our capacity for rationalization and self-deception is large; but also that our capacity for skillful and humane action is just as large, if it is properly developed, honed, rehearsed. And I hope that FASPE fellows can learn that there is strength in their shared experience and commitment; that they are not alone in their desire for values-driven professions; and that they have more CHOICES than they sometimes think.

5)    What was the most striking or memorable moment of this year’s FASPE program for you personally?

Although it is always difficult to see fellows fall back into rationalizing less-than-ethical behavior when we discuss current case challenges – even after they have just seen the tragic impacts of such rationalizations – there is an even greater joy in seeing those same fellows rise to the challenge of creative problem-solving around the various Giving Voice to Values conflicts that we discuss. It gives me hope…and I hope it does the same for them! I consider participating in this program to be a rare, extremely difficult, but also terribly valuable honor.

Professor Mary Gentile is Creator/Director of Giving Voice to Values, Professor of Practice at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, Senior Advisor at the Aspen Institute Business & Society Program, and consultant on management education and leadership development. Among numerous other awards, Mary was recently named as one of Compliance Week’s  “Top Minds 2017,” one of the 2015 “100 Most Influential in Business Ethics” by Ethisphere and one of the “Top Thought Leaders in Trust: 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award Winners” by Trust Across America-Trust Around the World, January 2015.

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UVA Darden Strategic CFO Roundtable Tackles Impact of Trump Administration First 100 Days on Business and Society

by Laura Hennessey Martens

Chief financial officers from leading companies in the Washington, D.C., region had a robust discussion about the first 100 days of the Trump administration and its impact on business, the economy and society during a recent Strategic CFO Roundtable. The roundtable is a select peer-to-peer forum hosted by the University of Virginia Darden School of Business Institute for Business in Society.

Convened on 11 May at the offices of Sands Capital Management in Rosslyn, Virginia, the roundtable members began by sharing their outlooks on the global and U.S. economies.

“My view is that everything seems much better than perhaps people were expecting once the election was over,” said one member. “The stock market is strong. The job market is strong. Inflation rates are low. Things are pretty stable.”

As the CFOs turned to a discussion of the main roundtable topic — Trends and Ramifications from the First 100 Days of the Trump Administration — they offered opinions and insights on subjects such as corporate and individual tax reform, small business reform, healthcare and the federal budget.

In agreement that President Donald Trump’s proposal to lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent was too drastic and therefore unlikely to be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, the members expressed their desire for some form of corporate tax change, recognizing that a lower rate would create stock market value.

The executives were less optimistic that President Trump’s individual tax reform proposals would achieve the administration’s stated goals. “I don’t think you’re going to incent anyone who’s making $50,000 a year with these kinds of tax changes,” stated one CFO.

As they proposed various tax reforms that might work better, the majority of the members concurred that tax policy should not be used to force social policy. They also expressed universal support for eliminating the estate tax, often referred to as the “death tax.”

“You’re charitable because you want to be charitable,” said one executive. “For example, why are we incentivizing people to buy homes versus rent?”

“I’ve always felt that making death a taxable event is just wrong,” said another. “It’s double taxation, and in some cases, triple taxation.”

The roundtable members appeared unconvinced by the administration’s assertion that millions of jobs would be created through President Trump’s proposed tax reforms, with the majority of members not viewing tax reform as the proper method to achieve that goal. Instead, they agreed with one CFO who suggested entrepreneurship and small business creation to be the vehicles more likely to generate jobs.

In addition, many members did not believe Trump’s tax proposals could be adequately explored without considering their interconnectivity with other policy issues such as health care and federal spending.

“We can’t just continue to cut taxes and not find other ways to balance the budget or reduce spending. And that can’t come, in my opinion, at the expense of people in our society who need help,” stated one executive.

One roundtable member said political gridlock and lack of innovation could deter progress on health care policy. “Society has to come to grips with whether we want government to do it, or do we want the private sector to do it with government oversight?” he said. “We don’t come up with long-term viable institutions that will accomplish these things, and that’s the biggest problem.”

Additional insights from this session are available in the report, “Views from the C-Suite.” The next roundtable will convene in September 2017.

Roundtable members are selected CFOs from publicly traded and private equity-held companies headquartered in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

Professor Ken Eades & Jane-Scott Cantus

Darden Professor Kenneth Eades and The ILEX Group Managing Principal and General Counsel Jane-Scott Cantus, an Institute for Business in Society Fellow, founded the Strategic CFO Roundtable in 2008. In 2013, the Strategic CFO Roundtable was adopted as a key initiative of the Darden School’s Institute for Business in Society.

This article also appeared in The Darden Report on 1 June 2017.

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Darden Net Impact Week Highlights the Role Business Can Play in Improving the World

By Alice Cassin and Shilpa Muralidaran

How can we use business as a force for good? That was the question posed to the University of Virginia Darden School of Business community during Net Impact Week, held this April.

Events throughout the week inspired conversations around how public, private and nonprofit organizations are generating positive change through business. The Net Impact at Darden student club organized the week in partnership with the Institute for Business in Society, the Global Business and Culture Club, Darden Business & Public Policy Club, the Office of Student Affairs, the Center for Global Initiatives, Darden Wine & Cuisine Club, Darden Energy Club, the Adam Smith Society, Darden Impact Ventures and the Center for Asset Management.

Net Impact Week kicked off with a sustainability-themed First Coffee, building on a Darden networking tradition that brings together students and professors each morning between classes. At the event, the Net Impact club distributed coffee mugs made by Fairware, a Canadian B Corporation that focuses on ethical sourcing, sustainable materials and processes and corporate citizenship. The event was co-sponsored by KIND, a snack food company that claims to be run by “a group of socially-conscious health nuts.” At the event, Net Impact members displayed quotes by KIND CEO Daniel Lubetzky to demonstrate the challenges and benefits of running a “not-only-for-profit” business. Students participated by writing their answers to the question “What does sustainability mean to you?” on a large chalkboard. Responses included “environmental stewardship” and “employee ownership,” among others.

Keynote speaker Rebecca van Bergen, the Founder and Executive Director of Nest, inspired students with her entrepreneurial story of starting a nonprofit that empowers global artisans and homeworkers through supply chain transparency, sustainable business development and industry advocacy. She described how Nest’s work alleviates poverty, strengthens social protections for artisans and preserves traditional crafts. Her organization works with well-known brands to create a visible, regulated and transparent supply chain while empowering artisans in 50 countries. Van Bergen’s keynote culminated in a call to action, as she encouraged MBA students to get involved with NEST through its new fellowship program.

Net Impact Week also featured the Impact Investing Forum hosted by Darden Impact Venture and Darden’s Richard A. Mayo Center for Asset Management. Darden students were thrilled to hear from high profile, knowledgeable panelists including Alex Fife (MBA ‘14) of Village Capital, Eric Letsinger of Quantified Ventures, Rodney Willett of Impact Makers and Garrett Wilson (MBA ’14) of Hirtle, Callaghan & Co . The panelists provided an overview of the impact investing industry, highlighting recent trends in growth and sophistication of investment vehicles as well as innovative ways the industry is pursuing and evaluating social impact.

Courtney Harris, Antoine Van Agtmael, Elise Miller Hoffman, David Williams

To explore how business can spur much-needed economic growth in Middle America, Net Impact Week delivered a fascinating mid-week panel called “The Entrepreneurial Renaissance in America’s Heartland,” sponsored by the Institute for Business in Society. Distinguished panelists included Antoine Van Agtmael, senior advisor at Foreign Policy Analytics and co-author of The Smartest Places on Earth; David A. Williams, senior advisor to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and a graduate of Harvard Law School; and Elise Miller Hoffman, a principal at Cultivation Capital, a venture capital firm based in St. Louis. The panelists described how investments in entrepreneurship and business are injecting new life into Midwest economies, and engaged with audience members on how business has and will continue to impact racial and social justice issues. The discussion centered on the role of business in providing new economic opportunities to marginalized populations, including urban minorities, rural populations and blue collar workers who have experienced job losses due to the rise of automation and increasing global competition from trade.

“We need our cities to adapt, otherwise they will die,” said Williams, citing the vibrancy business has brought back to Detroit following the financial crisis. “We are asking ourselves, how can we make Detroit the mobility capital of the world?” The panelists urged the audience to consider job opportunities in Middle America, citing demand for business skills in the region, and demonstrating opportunities for recent graduates to have a significant impact on these communities.

Miller urged students to consider non-traditional career paths. “Think about your retirement party,” she said. “What legacy do you want to leave?”

Another timely event that drew a wide-ranging audience was the panel on the Flint water crisis co-sponsored by World Water at UVA, Institute for Business in Society and Net Impact at Darden. Led by Professor Peter Debaere, an expert on water markets, the event focused on issues of water quality, infrastructure and social justice that surfaced during and after the public health crisis in Flint, Michigan, when city leadership decided to shift the source of its drinking water without having adequate water treatment and decontamination. Professor Amy Pruden, who co-led the Virginia Tech team that uncovered Flint’s lead problems, described the ongoing challenges faced by Flint residents and their city’s leadership and discussed remedies and safeguards for the future. Ruffner Page (MBA ’86), Darden alumnus and CEO and President of water infrastructure multinational organization McWane, shared his perspective on remaining water-related issues in Flint and throughout the country, including aging infrastructure. UVA Law Professor Cale Jaffe outlined the legal and regulatory framework that defines our water infrastructure and use.

Alongside the week’s captivating panels and speakers, Net Impact Week brought the Darden and UVA community together for social activities including a Sunset Yoga Session with FlyDog Yoga and the Global Impact Cold Call. Both events were co-hosted with the Global Business and Culture Club. The Cold Call featured global cuisine and was supported by the International Rescue Committee (IRC). A local IRC member was on hand to draw attention to the refugee crisis and to promote the newly established GenR program, targeted at young professionals who want to make a difference in the lives of refugees.

Darden MBA students at Loving Cup Vineyard

Net Impact Week closed out with a “Sustainability Wine Tour” co-sponsored by Net Impact at Darden and the Darden Wine and Cuisine Club. Students spent the afternoon at Loving Cup Vineyard and Winery learning about the business of organic farming, not to mention drinking great wine!

 

About the Authors: Alice Cassin and Shilpa Muralidaran are Darden School MBA students. They serve as the outgoing (Cassin) and incoming (Muralidaran) Vice Presidents of Darden’s Net Impact Club.

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Professor Mary Gentile Named a Top Mind of 2017

By Dave Hendrick

Darden Professor Mary Gentile has added a new accolade to her list of awards and plaudits.

Professor Mary Gentile, creator/director of Giving Voice to Values

Gentile, author of the influential Giving Voice to Values curriculum, has been named one of Compliance Week‘s “Top Minds 2017,” a list that highlights “the best and brightest in the governance, risk, ethics and compliance profession.”

Deeming Gentile “The Practical Ethicist,” Compliance Week said Gentile is “one of the compliance and ethics field’s most renowned educators for her results-based ethics training.” She described the focus of Giving Voice to Values in a Q&A with the magazine:

Instead of presenting so-called ethical dilemmas, we should focus on situations where most of us would know what the right thing to do is but we just don’t think it’ll be successful, possible, feasible, or even well-received in the context where we’re working. So instead of asking people to determine what’s right, we ask, “how would you get the right thing done?”

I call this the Giving Voice to Values (GVV) thought experiment, because we know now that if you ask people what they would do, and they think it’s going to be impossible to do what they think is right, they will unconsciously rationalize why it’s not necessarily the wrong thing to do. People react emotionally and give reasons for it post-hoc. I wanted to disrupt that unconscious process before that pre-emptive rationalizing kicked in and just say, look, I’m not asking whether you would do this. I’m asking what if you wanted to do this, and then we get people to work together to script and action plan and rehearse so by the time they actually have to face the question, they feel like they have a real choice because they have some options.

Read the rest of the interview with Gentile in Compliance Week, beginning on page 32 (free sign-up required).

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Professor Bobby Parmar and Darden MBA Students Help Henley Middle School Students Discover Both the Challenges, and the Sweet Rewards, of Business

By Jenny Mead

Approximately 40 Darden School second year MBA students went back to middle school recently. Sixth grade, to be exact.

In a scenario of MBA student-turned instructor, the business students used the Darden case study method Tuesday to address the day’s agenda for a group of Henley Middle School students: cupcakes and thorny business dilemmas.

Prof. Parmar addresses Henley Middle School Students

In an experiential learning experience led by Institute-affiliated Professor Bobby Parmar, MBA students currently enrolled in Parmar’s “Collaboration Lab” visited the Crozet middle school to help a 6th grade class of advanced math students navigate their way through a case study entitled, “Sweet Success at the Cupcakery.”

Within the case, founder and owner Anna Frosting has to make a decision about how to spend $250,000 in the coming year. Should she give her employees raises? Invest in a new high-tech mixer? Increase advertising? Or donate some funds to Habitat for Humanity, creating good will and possibly increased sales?

Darden MBA students advise Henley Middle School students

Having read the case study prior to the session, each group of four or five Henley students were tasked with weighing the pros and cons of Frosting’s various options. At each table was a Darden student who at first just observed the discussions and then, later in the exercise, offered some guidance about how and what the Henley students might think about as they made their decision.

Through this exercise, the middle school students were able to practice math skills such as reading charts and graphs, and apply that knowledge to a practical problem. They also learned about the impact that a business has on all of its various stakeholder groups and society-at-large, as well as the complexities of ethical decision-making for business leaders.

“These decisions aren’t always so easy, are they?” Parmar asked the sixth graders, in a question that was answered with shaking heads.

Prof. Parmar consults with Darden MBA student instructors

The Darden MBA students had a chance to observe and coach the middle school students, as well as practice their skills in diagnosing and fostering collaboration.

The Henley students seemed delighted by the experience and the chance to put some problem-solving skills to the test. Reflecting on the afternoon, some students identified highlights of the exercise as “working with others” and “having the Darden people help us.”

However, everyone agreed that the afternoon’s best moment was – of course – eating the Sweethaus cupcakes that Darden provided at the end!

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Nelson County Middle School Students Visit UVA Darden School to Learn About Business in Society

By Tori Yang

The median age of the students at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business dropped precipitously on a recent March morning, as a group of seventh and eighth graders from nearby Nelson County Middle School stopped in to learn more about Darden, business and business in society.

Nelson County Middle School Students Network with Hot Chocolate

The students spent a day engaging in a wide range of activities, including a hot chocolate networking session with Darden faculty and students, two classes and two hands-on workshops.

Brian Moriarty, director of the Institute for Business in Society and lecturer in Management Communication, started the day with a high-energy session on the importance of storytelling in business. Moriarty began by asking the students to guess how important words were in comparison to body language and tone — or “how important what you say is versus how you say it.” While most of the students intuitively ascribed spoken words as most important, Moriarty illustrated that nonverbal communication, such as gestures and eye contact, typically speak the loudest, with only seven percent of messages coming from the words themselves.

Prof. Brian Moriarty Leads Business Storytelling Session

Moriarty’s questioning helped set the stage for a discussion on how businesses have used storytelling to create a vision for their companies and for the communities in which they operate. Using examples of successful organizations that have transformed their businesses and the world, Moriarty challenged the students to identify issues they wanted to change in society, and then present their ideas and solutions in front of the class. The students discussed a wide range of issues, including global warming, hunger, healthcare reform, school violence, equal rights and curing cancer, among others.

Using a real-world example of high schoolers choosing between different career tracks, Professor James Freeland walked the middle school students through an MBA case study on the concept of expected value analysis. To help the students better relate to the case, he invited two former student athletes and a former engineering student now studying at Darden to share their stories about making career choices.

“Money plays a major role, but not the only role,” stressed Freeland.

7th & 8th Grade Students Present Their Ideas to Improve the World

The students also took part in an innovation and design thinking workshop organized by Carlos Trevino (Class of 2017), a student from the Darden Business Innovation & Design Club. The seventh and eighth grade students learned about product design and customer preference through small group discussions followed by a hands-on activity that allowed the students to materialize their ideas.

Rounding up the day’s activities was a workshop on the stock market and investing. “What does it mean to own a stock?” asked James Franco (Class of 2017), a member of Darden Capital Management Club, as a conversation starter. Students were eager to voice their ideas and were prompted to think about more complex questions as the session progressed. The workshop elicited active participation from the students and left them much to ponder as the field trip came to an end.

Alan Goodyear (Class of 2018), a Darden student in charge of organizing the agenda for the field trip, said that the planning committee hopes to arrange a similar event next year to give middle school students more exposure to the world of business and MBA programs.

“This field trip is an example of Darden’s mission in action for the next generation,” said Goodyear.

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The Value of a Tri-Sector Leadership Perspective: A Session with Shamina Singh, President of Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth

By Lisa Stewart

Shamina Singh of Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth

Prior to becoming a student at the UVA Darden School, Catherine Melsheimer served as a staff member in Congress and worked on political campaigns. Now in her second year of the MBA program, Catherine is a member of the UVA Tri-Sector Leadership Fellows program where she has spent the past year engaging with peers in UVA’s Darden, Law and Policy graduate programs, as well as participating in conversations with high-level practitioners about leadership challenges they have faced dealing with issues that cross the boundaries of social, private and public sectors.

This year’s speakers ranged from heads of government agencies and government affairs departments, to academic, foundation and corporate presidents, board members, and an acting CEO.

Catherine’s key takeaway from a recent session with Shamina Singh, President of Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, was “that the diversity of experiences in corporate, government, and social sectors makes one’s leadership skills more relevant, and that thinking about how money moves along with public opinion and government policies gives us a competitive advantage in whatever job we hold next.”

WATCH VIDEO: Shamina Singh discusses the importance of Tri-Sector Leadership and Public-Private Partnerships with Darden School Dean Scott Beardsley

 

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Professor Mary Margaret Frank Leads Discussions at 2017 Pay for Success and Social Impact Finance Conference

By Tori Schucheng Yang

How can Pay for Success models be used to improve project outcomes? And how can these public-private financing models help foster innovation and positively impact communities?

These were some of the questions discussed by state government officials, service providers, philanthropists, impact investors and business leaders who gathered at the 2017 Pay for Success and Social Impact Finance 2.0 Conference, an event hosted by Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Virginia, the Darden School of Business Institute for Business in Society and Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy in partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Quantified Ventures and Third Sector Capital Partners.

The conference began the evening of  9 February when the University of Virginia Pay for Success Lab, which identifies and advances impactful Pay for Success project models in localities across the nation, announced it had become the first university-based organization to join the America Forward coalition, a network of more than 70 social entrepreneur organizations that champion innovative, effective, and efficient solutions to the country’s most pressing social problems.

The conference’s February 10 programming was held at the Darden School and included presentations by UVA faculty and external experts, small group sessions, a plenary case discussion, and a fireside chat on the future of social impact programming.

Professor Mary Margaret Frank presents at 2017 conference

Professor Mary Margaret Frank, an academic director for Darden’s Institute for Business in Society, addressed the crucial role of public-private partnerships and cross-sector collaboration in addressing complex social issues. As she neared the end of her presentation, Frank introduced Andrea Barrios, a 2016 Darden alumna, to share her story of developing a Pay for Success model aimed at improving HIV patient outcomes in the Washington, D.C., area. Barrios discussed her team’s experience building their Red Ribbon Fund model, which took second place at the 2016 Kellogg-Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge in Hong Kong.

Jen Giovannitti, a regional community development manager at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, delivered an introductory speech on why Pay for Success models can be a viable option to address social issues.

Sally Hudson, a UVA economist who studies performance in public sector labor markets, presented on ways to measure impact and other methodological considerations that can boost the efficacy of Pay for Success programs. Hudson stressed that community programs should focus on actual impact versus inputs, which often get confused during program implementation and evaluation.

Jay Shimshack, associate professor of public policy and economics at UVA with a specialization in applied microeconomics for public policy, provided a comprehensive overview on how to evaluate the costs and benefits of programs, while summarizing various approaches for evaluating benefits.

“You wouldn’t ask a business to invest in a project that does not make as much money as if they left it in the bank and collected interest,” said Shimshack. “The same logic applies to Pay for Success.”

Frank brought all of the morning’s conference sessions together by reviewing the risks and rewards of Pay for Success models through the lens of the investors. According to Frank, “the role of the investor is to evaluate the risks and returns of the project … and attitudes toward risk vary” based on monetary returns, past experience, leadership and other factors.

Professor Frank leads plenary case discussion

Frank also facilitated a plenary case discussion and experiential learning exercise using the Red Ribbon Fund model. Conference attendees played the roles of key stakeholder groups, including service providers (HIV/AIDS clinics), intermediaries (Red Ribbon Fund), private investors, program evaluators and outcome payors (government) to review the model from the perspectives of the various partners involved.

Applying the concept of risk-return analysis addressed in Frank’s morning session, the cohorts shared the potential risks they identified during their small group discussions and proposed ideas on how to manage those risks. Incorporating insights from her research on public-private partnerships and multi-sector collaboration, Frank noted that “trust is at the basis of everything.”

When one of the participants raised a public relations concern about an aspect of the model in which AIDS patients receive payments for each phase of the immunotherapy they complete, Frank pointed out that, as a financial expert, she “may not have thought twice” about the issue. “Our professions often lead to blind spots. And as much as we may be experts in our own areas, we need other experts to help see all of the various angles and figure it all out.”

“The point here is that you do most of your learning when you talk to each other,” Frank said. “Part of the Darden Institute for Business in Society’s role is figuring out how we partner and translate between sectors to provide benefits to society,” she said. Addressing collaborations between different sectors and stakeholders, Frank advised, “Language is important. You have to be able to talk to each other in terms you all can understand.”

The program closed with a fireside chat featuring four panelists with expertise on social impact investment. Attendees and speakers discussed the current state of the social impact industry and the future of Pay for Success models.

“There is no such thing as an expert in social impact bonds,” said Eric Letsinger, founder of Quantified Ventures, with more than 25 years of leadership and direct management experience in the social impact industry. “This is brand-new, and the sky is the limit on where these models can go.”

 

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Feminism and the Free Markets

By Maeve McGilloway and Alexandra Williams

What role can the free market play in women’s participation in society?

How have laws changed to encourage women’s participation in the labor market?

Are differences in outcomes the result of structural policy, or the individual choices of men and women?

These were some of the questions posed last week at the Darden School when the Adam Smith Society, a student group focused on promoting on-grounds debate and discussions on capitalism, partnered with the Graduate Women in Business club to sponsor a panel entitled “Feminism and the Free Markets.”

Professor Mary Margaret Frank

This panel was loosely-based on UVA School of Law Professor Julia Mahoney’s seminar of the same title and, in addition to Mahoney, featured distinguished speakers from the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy (Sophie Trawalter), Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute (Kay Hymowitz) and moderator Mary Margaret Frank, professor from the Darden School of Business and an academic director of the Institute for Business in Society.

The objective of the panel was to explore the interactions between economic forces and the choices people make in a free market economy – and to delineate how those influence women’s participation in society and labor markets.

One topic that resonated with the group, as many of the student audience members are about to re-enter the working world, was the concept of family-friendly policies and how these policies can encourage higher labor participation among women. Professor Mahoney mentioned the paradigm of Sweden, with policies that encourage 16 months of paid leave, extra tax-credits to help cover parenting costs, and a transferable two-month leave for either parent, all of which support almost 80% of Swedish women returning to work after childbirth.

While realizing that this issue is complex and doesn’t necessarily lead to ideal outcomes for women, the group learned how some of these family-friendly policies, such as shared parental leave and greater access to childcare facilities, may promote gender-neutral parenting. Sharing responsibilities across partners, not surprisingly, led to better outcomes for women re-entering the labor force.

Turning to a discussion of the gender pay gap, Hymowitz pointed out that there are many social factors the statistics can easily overlook when measuring this gap, emphasizing that research and social context are important.

When discussing statistical differences or gaps in social experiments, Frank asked the audience to consider, “How big is the difference? Statistically significant, but what is the actual magnitude?” She stressed it is important to note not merely the existence of a statistical difference or gap, but the degree, the significance and the explicit importance of that difference.

Next, Frank asked the panel to address non-malicious drivers of gender inequality and how implicit sexism can promote gender disparities in the workplace. To this, Trawalter offered that there are two major assumptions about female participation in the workforce: the first is that women opt out and the second is that women do not seek leadership as much as men.

However, Trawalter asserted, these common assumptions contain inherent biases. For example, she referenced some of her research around gender differences in perceptions of safety – essentially, many women may have concerns about safety working at night and, by choosing to work fewer hours than their male counterparts, this may undermine their productivity or decrease their sense of belonging in the community.

Of course, there are the explicit and structural elements that promote disparity, but Trawalter illuminated the fact that individuals and organizations must try to recognize the subtle and more hidden disparities as well.  Much of Trawalter’s research aims to develop constructive strategies to cope with the challenges of diversity on an everyday basis.

Additionally, Kay Hymowitz mentioned the recent emergence of a “creative economy,” a term that largely identifies the move from economies based on the production of goods to economies based on provision of services, creative imagination and knowledge. John Howkins first dubbed this term in 2001 when he described it as, “the transactions of creative products that have an economic good or service that results from creativity and has economic value.”  Audience members learned that female entrepreneurs are not only vital in these more inventive and flexible labor markets, but tend to thrive in them, as these markets favor knowledge and creativity-based skill sets over mechanical or manual labor intensive abilities.

This creative economy is valued at $3.7 trillion globally and cities that invest in this sector, like Austin or Brooklyn, have some of the fastest job growth. Hymowitz highlighted her hometown of Brooklyn, New York as having “consummated a marriage between art and commerce,” whereby knowledgeable creative types, particularly women, can thrive on their own terms.

“Feminism and the Free Markets” Discussion

Hymowitz also referenced the success of artist-turned-entrepreneur Lexy Funk, co-founder and CEO of Brooklyn Industries bags, who flourished in this new economy and is now a nationally-recognized brand. The creative economy offers a platform to support the continued empowerment of women.

Referencing the type of environments that either help women to succeed or fall behind in the labor force, Frank asked the group to address the roles of psychology and culture versus business responsibility and policy change. Noting her work with the United Nations, Trawalter described the concept of the “double bind” – a social dilemma in which, if a woman behaves in a “feminine” way, she may be liked, but not respected or viewed as a leader; however, if she operates in a “masculine” manner, she may be judged and disliked.

“It can often be difficult for women to walk along these narrow lines,” added Frank.

Similarly, the panel discussed the “glass cliff,” a phenomenon in which women in leadership roles, such as corporate executives and female political candidates, are more likely than men to achieve leadership positions during periods of crisis or downturn, when the chance of failure is highest.

Toward the end of the discussion, Frank asked the panel and audience to consider men’s roles and whether their impact matters. Unanimously, all of the panelists agreed that “there has got to be buy-in from men,” since male inclusiveness is an important but not always prioritized aspect of closing the gender gap.

According to Hymowitz, “As a society, we have a lot of missing men” since the economic shift from industrial to knowledge-based markets.

This new economic climate has negatively impacted blue collar male American workers, while simultaneously raising up female entrepreneurs and educated business women. Blue collar male displacement, coupled with the advancement of “women issues,” easily pushes away male advocates, whom women in the workforce need to help achieve gender equality in the next generation.

The panelists came from diverse backgrounds and touched on a myriad of topics, leaving many in the room wanting the conversation to last more than the scheduled hour. Audience members were inspired by the panelists to continue the ongoing conversation about supporting women’s participation in the labor markets and society-at-large.

Philosopher Amelie Rorty once wrote, “We must engage in continuous conversation, testing one another, changing the minds of others because we have listened to the voices of our fellows.”  The students in attendance were encouraged that opportunities to bring together different voices of the University will continue to engage in this dialogue and push new ideas all around the University and beyond.

Maeve McGilloway is a Second Year Graduate MBA student at the Darden School of Business and the President of the Graduate Women in Business Club.  Alexandra Williams is a Fourth Year undergraduate student majoring in Politics and Foreign Affairs at the University of Virginia’s College of Arts and Sciences.

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