24 Oct 2018

Exploring the Future of Work for Women

Clubs News: HBS Club of India delves into gender issues in the workplace, San Diego learns about trust
by Margie Kelley

Clubs News

Clubs News

The HBS Club of India recently hosted its first conference devoted to exploring gender issues in the workplace of the future.

The Future of Work: Accelerating Gender Parity Conference, held on September 21 in Mumbai, was an invitation-only opportunity for 200 CEOs and senior managers to convene with experts and scholars to explore what the future holds for working women.

The conference was organized by the HBS Club of India in partnership with the HBS-India Research Center.

“There have been other gender-focused conferences, but this is different. We’re looking at new ways of working and their impacts on gender, “ says Kami Viswanathan (MBA 2001), who organized the conference with a core team including Vivek Gambhir (MBA 1997), Jyoti Narang (AMP 179), and Nupur Arya (AMP 192), along with Anjali Raina and Inakshi Sobti from the India Research Center.

Advancements in artificial intelligence, the growth of the gig economy, increasing global mobility, longer career spans, and changing work-life demands are all factors that are reshaping work. What those changes mean for women in the workplace, and how organizations will respond were the focus of panel discussions and presentations by HBS faculty, industry leaders and scholars.

“We wanted to explore the idea at the highest levels,” Viswanathan said. “The whole idea of what changes in work mean for women is still unexplored. We invited business leaders to this conference, with a goal of having them go back to their organizations and push for gender parity in light of these changes.”

For guidance in planning the event, the club reached out to HBS professors Robin Ely, who is an expert on gender issues and Joseph Fuller, an expert on the future of work.

“It was such a timely topic, “ said Viswanathan. “Looking at technology, for example, one panel explored the question of whether AI could eliminate gender bias. This was a new conversation. People uniformly expressed to us that this was a new angle on women’s participation. Maybe this conference could be the catalyst that brings more thought on that intersection of gender and technology.”

Deborah Quazzo (MBA 1987) gave the keynote address while Professor Ely participated on a panel discussion exploring leadership challenges. Professor Fuller gave a presentation on the future of work, and Lakshmi Ramarajan, the Anna Spangler Nelson and Thomas C. Nelson Associate Professor of Business Administration, gave a presentation on gender identity.

“While we looked at the future, we also acknowledged the current barriers that women face,” said Viswanathan. “While work might change, some things, like needing childcare, will not change.”

Though the conference was held in India, Viswanathan said only one session focused on women and entrepreneurship in India, specifically. “Overall, we took a global view on the topic.”

After a day full of presentations and panel discussions, Viswanathan said attendees were asked to pledge to take action towards greater gender parity in their organizations.

HBS Club of San Diego Explores “Trust” with Tarun Khanna

The HBS Club of San Diego recently hosted Tarun Khanna, the Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at HBS, for a talk about his newest book, Trust: Creating the Foundations for Entrepreneurship in Developing Countries.

Khanna, who has been exploring the role of entrepreneurship in the economic and social development of emerging markets, described the critical need to establish trust when launching a business in developing countries, where typical legal or social contracts may not be seen as credible.

“This is so important,” says HBSCSD President Edward Hughes (MBA 1993). “Without the presence of trust, there’s no framework to take risks, whether the law is there or not. It was a very thought-provoking talk, and it was both relevant and interesting since many of our members are entrepreneurs.”

Hughes said about 50 club members attended the talk, held at the training space at Abbott in San Diego. “People were impressed with Professor Khanna’s intelligent and interesting work, and he was very gracious to stay for an engaging Q & A,” said Hughes.

“The HBS Club of San Diego is always excited when a HBS faculty member can come to San Diego and talk to us. We try to host at least one professor each year.” says Hughes.

In addition to faculty events, the club produces a regular CEO Forum, continuing education opportunities and other special events for alumni throughout the year.

“Our club’s mission is an extension of the HBS mission,” says Hughes, “in that we continue to educate leaders who make a difference in the world and who make San Diego a great place to live and work.”

A Global Gathering

Former classmates reconnected and made new connections at events across the world during the annual HBS Global Networking Night on October 17. More than 60 clubs, associations, and alumni groups participated. Each event had its own program and style, and ranged from panel discussions and keynote speakers, to escape rooms, margarita mixers, sit-down dinners, and in-depth conversations.

Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 2003, Section A
Class of MBA 1997, Section I
Class of AMP 179
Class of AMP 192
Class of MBA 1987, Section F
Class of MBA 1993, Section A
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