Together, these offices collaborate to drive positive institutional change across both Wharton and the University of Pennsylvania at large. Among other initiatives, these efforts include the creation of the School’s inaugural Wharton Wellness Summit in collaboration with the Perelman School of Medicine’s Neurology Department, and the revolutionary Wharton WORKS | Resilience Education program for MBA students.
Weaving the threads of research, partnership, and purpose to bridge the gaps of inequity, both the offices of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and Wharton’s Coalition for Equity and Opportunity (CEO) aim to equip and empower current and future business leaders. Behind this intention lies the hope of shaping a world where equal access and opportunity are no longer just aspirations, but tangible realities for business schools across the world. Leading the CEO Coalition is Senior Advisor to the Dean, Ken Shropshire, who returned to Wharton as the David W. Hauck Professor Emeritus of Legal Studies and Business Ethics.
CEO’s roster of faculty researchers work closely with organizations, developing the insights needed to inform equitable business strategies for their workforces, marketplaces, and communities.
“We’re stepping into a world where business isn’t just about transactions and strategies, but about transformation and empowerment,” says Shropshire. “Together, we’re creating a legacy where Wharton is defined not only by excellence in business education but also by the ripple effect it creates. By driving equity, we’re not just shaping business leaders – we’re shaping a better world.”
Also included in the efforts of the CEO office are ongoing collaborations with the Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, Dr. Renita Miller. Miller is looking forward to amplifying the school’s DEI practices to solidify a culture of dignity, respect, and transparency through the appreciation of differences.
“Community engagement and collaboration are central principles for the office and our strategic initiatives,” says Miller. “The One Wharton Initiative, ODEI, serves as a hub for collaborative DEI efforts, initiatives, programs, and events. Our core mission is to build bridges and drive change toward a more inclusive and equitable environment for the entire Wharton community.”
With a shared belief that diversity is at the core of institutional progress, and transformation, the Office of DEI and Wharton CEO initiated collaborative efforts through event programming, providing access to resources for the Penn and Philadelphia community and beyond. Their first event, the Wellness Summit, was held in partnership with Penn Medicine, to commemorate Juneteenth. With a focus on financial wellness and health equity, the summit took place at Saunders Park Greene on June 28, 2023, uniting the West Philadelphia community for a day of food, entertainment, and empowerment.
Wellness in West Philly
The event provided attendees with access to specialist doctors, blood pressure screenings, naloxone training and more. Recognizing the significant racial wealth gap and the widening economic disparities, particularly in Philadelphia, the summit emphasized the importance of financial literacy and well-being. Partners such as Vanguard, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and the Bizness Center provided attendees with resources focused on career development and financial literacy. By addressing financial health, the event aimed to equip the community with the knowledge and tools for economic empowerment. Shropshire emphasizes,
“Events like this create dialogue, collaboration, and momentum for sustained improvements. They serve as catalysts for addressing health disparities, economic inequities, and other pressing issues by connecting organizations, community leaders, and resources to advocate for policy changes and drive community-based solutions.”
In addition, Philabundance, a non-profit food bank, provided prepared meals and fresh produce to participants. Nutrition Unlimited shared insights on their medical nutrition therapy and diabetes education programs. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health also retained an active role at the event, and offered information on critical health services and community resources, encompassing COVID-19 updates, food access, housing/utility assistance, and violence prevention.
The pursuit of narrowing healthcare disparities is an objective closely aligned with Wharton CEO’s priorities. Kevin Mahoney, Chief Executive Officer of the University of Pennsylvania Health System sheds light on Penn’s effort to “shift care from the clinic directly to neighborhoods.” This approach is exemplified through the provision of no-cost health screenings to residents–bridging the gap between healthcare services and underserved populations.
“By prioritizing health equity with a focus on evidence-based solutions and action-oriented approaches, Penn Medicine is developing innovative models for reducing disparities in Philadelphia and across the country,” Mahoney says.
Furthermore, the Penn Medicine – Wharton Fund for Health initiative invests in early-stage businesses that prioritize strengthening the social determinants of health in under served communities.
Ken Shropshire is also actively forging partnerships with both for-profit and nonprofit entities to expand access to economic opportunities for all. A notable initiative, the Resilience Education | Wharton WORKS program, announced in April 2023, stands as one of the first collaborative efforts that the coalition takes great pride in. Working in conjunction with Wharton Professor Damon Phillips and co-founder of Resilience Education, Tierney Fairchild C ’89, CEO is excited about empowering justice-impacted individuals with the tools and knowledge they need to thrive in their careers and personal lives.
“Formerly incarcerated people often face discrimination when trying to reenter the workforce,” says Phillips. “For instance, they may lack the skills to qualify for well-paying jobs; companies often do not proactively seek to hire from this group; and incarcerated individuals are usually prevented from staying abreast of rapidly changing technology. These are key reasons why, although over 600,00 people return from prison each year, two-thirds of them will recidivate within three years.”
The Resilience Education | Wharton WORKS initiative addresses the challenges faced by formerly incarcerated people as they attempt to reintegrate into the workforce.
In the spirit of innovation and collaboration, Wharton’s vision for equity and opportunity unfolds through the efforts of both DEI and CEO. Guided by a shared commitment to transforming the business landscape, these endeavors hope to herald a future where equal access and empowerment are further integrated into the fabric of business education.
– Madison Sumners
Posted: August 21, 2023