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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Q & A With our Executive Director Joey Burton: Telling a Better Story About Business

Institute for Business in Society Executive Director, Joey Burton

New Institute for Business in Society Executive Director Joey Burton joined the University of Virginia Darden School of Business recently after 14 years at the University of Chicago, where he served the last three years as executive director of the Coase-Sandor Institute for Law and Economics. He also served as director of research and operations at the Center for Population Economics at the Chicago Booth School of Business and helped faculty secure substantial federal grants.

He joins Darden with a passion for advancing the positive role of business in society and discussed his background as well as his goals for Darden and the Institute for Business in Society.

Welcome to Darden. What are your initial impressions of the School?

Aside from its reverence for Thomas Jefferson? The first week I was here, I was asked to connect the document I was writing to Jeffersonian principles. I had to call a historian friend of mine for a primer.

This is a place that cares about ideas — students and faculty are deeply engaged with one another around a set of ideas that define this institution, whether that’s decision science, business ethics, leadership or, yes, Jeffersonian ideas about civic participation. But this is also a place that cares deeply about the practicing manager — what does the latest advancement in scholarship have to do with him or her? Darden faculty and students think that is an important question. And that has been refreshing.

What attracted you to the position of executive director of the Institute for Business in Society?

I have wondered for a while how I could contribute to telling a better story about business than the one our society has inherited. We live in a populist moment. The story of business, told by the right and the left, is that business is fundamentally out of alignment with the needs and aspirations of real people. And yet, the business leaders I know care deeply about how their decisions affect their employees, how their practices affect the communities they serve, and how their products and investments make the world better-off.

Darden faculty have produced real evidence that can bridge that gap. I have been so energized by the institute’s academic directors Ed Freeman, Greg Fairchild, Mary Margaret Frank and Andy Wicks — their own work has demonstrated the breadth and variety in business in society scholarship. I am so encouraged by Dean Scott Beardsley, who has prioritized business in society and leadership.

How has your background prepared you for this new position?

Whenever I think about my career, which hasn’t been a straight path, I am always looking for ways to connect my experiences to the next opportunity, and that means constantly redeveloping my narrative about why I have taken on the roles I have in the past, and what I learned from them.

I can honestly say that the Darden role was the first time I didn’t have to do that. This role felt obvious — it made my path from aspiring philosopher to economics researcher to university administrator make sense. I looked at the hiring committee — via Skype, of course — and said, without irony, “For all my life, I have wanted to be the executive director of the Institute for Business in Society.”

How would you describe the mission of the Institute for Business in Society and how do you see it fitting into the Darden School?

The Institute for Business in Society has to change the way business leaders think. They aren’t just managing a line of business, they are managing a complex source of social good. And the institute has to change the way the public thinks. Business isn’t a wild animal to be restrained. It is a dynamic source of social value that needs tools in order to adapt to the kinds of expectations we now place on business.

Thinking aspirationally, how would you like to see the Institute progress, or what would you like to see it accomplish?

I would like Darden to be the premier source for the development of those tools.

Broadly speaking, how do you think about the role of business in society?

We expect CEOs and their teams to solve the world’s problems. Some might see that as business crowding out good governance. But in the course of its everyday operations, a business responds to poverty, creates wealth, improves standard of living, enhances social cohesion, makes society healthier and better educated. We must train people out of thinking, “Wow. There is an example of business doing good,” and replace that with, “There is an example of people doing business.” Partnering with other social institutions to solve problems? That’s what business is.

What would you like to make sure everyone in the Darden community knows about the Institute for Business in Society?

The Darden community is so wonderfully supportive of business and society. Many of them came to Darden because they were interested in sustainability, or impact investing, or social entrepreneurship or in the way values guide business. They are not the ones I worry about. Thought leadership happens on several fronts outside Darden — in pure research, in public policy debates, on editorial pages, in boardrooms. Those are the fronts the Institute for Business in Society will try to reach.

This article originally appeared on the Darden School website.

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Institute for Business in Society Welcomes New Executive Director, Joey Burton

The Institute for Business in Society is pleased to announce its new Executive Director, Joseph (Joey) Burton.


Joey Burton, Executive Director

Burton arrives from the University of Chicago, where he led the research, operations and outreach efforts of two world-recognized centers over a span of 13 years. There, he served as executive director of the Coase-Sandor Institute for Law and Economics at the Law School and director of research and operations for the Center for Population Economics at the Chicago Booth School of Business.

Within these prior roles, Burton built multi-faceted research programs and increased the worldwide presence of these institutes by leveraging faculty research and thought leadership within the broader global discourse. Developing programs of this size and scope required strong engagement with faculty, students and alumni, as well as the ability to reach outside the institution into the larger business, policy, and economic sphere.

Burton’s talents and expertise will serve him well as he transitions to his new role here at the Institute for Business in Society. As Executive Director, he will be responsible for the institute’s overall strategy and administration, including engagement with key internal and external stakeholders. He will also lead the institute’s strategic vision, work with Darden leadership and faculty to develop and implement research and programs, and increase its network and awareness by elevating the platform for national and global conversations related to the impact of business in society.

Burton is passionate about promoting business as an answer to social questions. He looks forward to incorporating faculty and student work, alumni and employer goals, and research and outreach to highlight the ways Darden helps businesses and business leaders produce social benefits around the globe.

For more information, read the news release on the Darden website.

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Institute for Business in Society Introduces Mary Gentile, Creator and Director of Giving Voice to Values

The Institute for Business in Society recently welcomed educator and consultant, Mary Gentile, and her Giving Voice to Values (GVV) curriculum to the Darden School. Below is an interview with Professor Gentile about GVV, its approach, and what makes it different from other Business Ethics programs.


Professor Mary Gentile

Q: What is GVV?
A: GVV is an innovative approach to values-driven leadership development in business education and the workplace. Piloted in nearly a thousand schools, companies and other organizations on all seven continents and growing, the Giving Voice to Values curriculum offers practical exercises, cases, modules, scripts and teaching plans for handling a wide range of ethical conflicts in the workplace.

Drawing on the actual experience of business practitioners as well as social science and management research, GVV helps students, business leaders, employees, and other practitioners identify the many ways that individuals can and do voice their values in the workplace, and provides the opportunity to script and practice this voice in front of their peers.

Q: What Makes GVV Unique?
Unlike many other Business Ethics curricula, GVV is not about persuading people to be more ethical. Rather, GVV starts from the premise that most of us already want to act on our values, but that we also want to feel that we have a reasonable chance of doing so effectively and successfully. This pedagogy and curriculum are about raising those odds.

Rather than a focus on ethical analysis, the GVV curriculum focuses on ethical implementation and asks the questions: “What if I were going to act on my values? What would I say and do? How could I be most effective?”

Q: Who Can Use GVV?
 As noted above, to date, GVV has been piloted in nearly one thousand schools, companies, professional associations and other organizations on all seven continents and has an extensive network of thousands of contacts across the globe. Originally designed for use in graduate business school curricula, GVV has now moved well beyond that.

Whether you are a professor, student, corporate leader or practitioner in business, government, medicine or another field, Giving Voice to Values (GVV) provides the practical tools and skills needed to effectively voice and act on your values in the workplace.

Q: What do recent news events at companies like Volkswagon, Mylan and Wells Fargo tell us about why current approaches to business ethics don’t seem to be working?
A: The challenge appears to be not just one of recognizing ethical issues when they arise or learning to think them through–we are all practiced from toddler age with the skill of generating rationalizations for our choices. The challenge, rather, appears to be one of preparing managers for action: what do you do and say once you know what you think is right? Business ethics doesn’t spend enough time on that, unfortunately.

Q: What is it that so often stops us from acting on our values at work when we know what is right?
A: We all can generate a list of what makes this hard to do: we feel alone; we wonder if we’re being naïve; we wonder if we’re misinformed (or we want to believe that perhaps we are); we wonder if our boss will be receptive; we anticipate that we will encounter “push back” if we raise the issue and we don’t know what we’ll say when that happens; we worry about being ostracized or worse if we appear not to be a “team player.”


Q: Briefly, what can individuals do differently to ensure that we speak up about and act on our values?
A: First of all, we can reflect on our own histories. In my experience, I have yet to encounter someone who cannot honestly say that they have never voiced and enacted their values at some point in their lives; but I’ve also never encountered someone who cannot think of a time when they failed to do so as well. So the point here is that we all are capable of both and the objective of my work is to help expand the skills, the comfort and the confidence so that we can voice our values more often and more effectively.

Once we take this perspective, it’s all about practice. The typical kinds of values conflicts we will encounter are often predictable. Because they are predictable, there is the opportunity to anticipate the “reasons and rationalizations” we will hear in defense of the conflicted practice, and to literally craft “scripts” and action plans, and practice delivering them with supportive peer coaches. Just as an athlete practices his or her moves to commit them to muscle memory, the point here is to make voicing/enacting our values – thoughtfully and effectively – the default position.

Q: What can organizations do to better protect themselves and their employees from ethical transgressions?
A: They can share stories of times when individuals have, in fact, voiced and enacted their values effectively. They can provide opportunities for employees to practice their scripts and to engage in peer coaching. Perhaps, most powerfully, leaders can share the stories of how they themselves found ways to think through and enact their values, not as self-serving tales of heroism, but as examples of how values conflicts are a very “normal” part of our organizational lives and need to be met with the same thoughtful, calm and focused attention we would bring to any other business decision.

Q: How can we build a network of allies — up and down the organizational chain of command — to share our ethical concerns?
A: By normalizing the experience of values conflicts in the workplace, we make them discussable. We start from the position that most of us would like to act on our values if we thought we could do so effectively, so this is less about preaching or judging and more about asking an interesting question about innovation and implementation: “WHAT IF you knew what you thought was right? How would you get it done, effectively?”

The way you show you’re smart and savvy in such a conversation is not by taking the cynical position, but rather by figuring out how to actually do what some might say is impossible. It becomes an ongoing skill-building endeavor and leadership practice.


Q: You say in your book that “sometimes the most effective arguments we can craft in the service of our values are the ones we least expect.” What do you mean?
A: Part of the process of creating our values scripts entails identifying what’s at stake for everyone. In the process of doing this, we sometimes learn that what is motivating the other person is more easily addressed without going to a place of moral righteousness. The other person may simply be trying to protect themselves from criticism further up the line.

By acknowledging that, and trying to problem-solve with him or her, we can sometimes engage them in our efforts more easily than if we simply argued that their stance was “wrong.”

Q: Could you describe the experiences of individuals who acted on their values and how it turned out for them from your consulting practice or the research for your books?
A: Although there are never guarantees, my experiences talking to people and researching my books shows that people do sometimes find ways to voice and enact their values successfully and we can learn from their experiences. It’s important to recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all response, however. Senior executives have different pressures and different degrees of freedom than more junior employees. Additionally, it is essential to play to one’s individual strengths: the individual who sees herself as a risk-taker will do well to frame her actions as consistent with her typical style, while the individual who sees herself as more conservative or even fearful would want to frame voicing her values as the more cautious route. There are numerous examples of different approaches in the GVV book and the many GVV cases.

Q: Why is it more important than ever to address this issue now?
A: Values conflicts have always been with us. But given the scale and scope and pace of organizational action, just a few mistakes or failures can have longer lasting and farther reaching effects. At some level, we all read the papers and watch the news and know that something has to change.

Q: How did you first participate in developing the notion of Giving Voice to Values, how widely has it spread so far, and what kind of influence is it having?
A: I have been cooking up these ideas since my time at Harvard Business School in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but the actual program grew out of research and consulting experiences in global management education over the past ten years or so.  GVV was originally launched by the Aspen Institute with the Yale School of Management, then housed at Babson College from 2009-2016, and is now hosted by the UVA Darden School of Business.

Now, I am excited to explore further applications of GVV at Darden  a top-ranked business school — to take it to the next level. Darden’s reputation as a pioneer in values-driven leadership development make it the ideal home for GVV. I believe that the GVV approach has the opportunity to transform business ethics and make it more effective at a time when this is direly needed, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

For more information on GVV, visit the Institute for Business in Society website. Learn more about Mary Gentile on the Darden School website.

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