Expanding the Pipeline of Diverse Business Talent

Students sitting in a classroom at the DePaul Center as part of the Greenwood Project's summer boot camp.

DePaul partnered with the nonprofit Greenwood Project to help deliver an in-person financial services summer boot camp to more than 200 Black and Latinx youth. (photo courtesy Greenwood Project).

DePaul collaborates with businesses, non-profits and alumni to empower the career ambitions of underrepresented students

While corporate America has made modest gains in diversifying its leadership, women and people of color remain underrepresented in the executive ranks of many industries.  

Women represent a mere 5% of C-suite leaders, according to the McKinsey-LeanIn.Org Women in the Workforce 2022 report, and only 17% of executive roles are held by people of color, the Gartner 2021 Leadership Progression and Diversity Survey found 

HR leaders cite a lack of diversity in the pipeline as the top challenge to diversifying the leadership bench,” Gartner noted in its report. 

The Driehaus College of Business is taking an active role in addressing this challenge, and is in a unique position to spark progress as a business school serving diverse learners in the heart of Chicago’s business community. Inspired by DePaul University’s mission to ensure the success of students from underserved communities, the college is collaborating with businesses, nonprofits and alumni benefactors to help underrepresented students gain a foothold on the path to business leadership. 

Examples of these collaborations include: 

  • A partnership with the nonprofit Greenwood Project to host summer programs at DePaul that introduce students from underrepresented communities to opportunities in the finance industry. Last summer more than 200 Black and Latinx high school and college students, largely from Chicago’s South and West sides, participated in Greenwood programs at the Driehaus College of Business. 
  • The launch of the Deloitte Foundation Accounting Scholars program at DePaul to fund scholarships for racially and ethnically diverse students seeking graduate accounting degrees, sponsored by Deloitte’s Making Accounting Diverse and Equitable initiative. 
  • Co-curricular career readiness programming at the Keeley Center Academy, and new student organizations for women and people of color in DePaul’s finance program, supported by finance industry donors. 
  • New KPMG-funded scholarships and analytics resources for underrepresented students pursuing Master of Science in Audit and Advisory Services degrees at DePaul. 
  • A summer accounting boot camp supported by a PwC INQuires Grant in 2022 for first-year DePaul students of color.  
  • Incubator programs to advance the success of DePaul and community women business founders, supported by the Women in Entrepreneurship Institute advisory board and industry sponsors. 
  • A new, yearlong, rigorous leadership development program for DePaul undergraduates that will start in 2023. The program is overseen by the business college’s Hay Center for Leadership Development, founded with a generous estate gift from alumnus and DePaul Trustee William E. Hay (MBA ’66, DHL ’06). 

These initiatives seek to transform the lives of students while addressing one of the college’s priorities—to become an agent for social mobility, says Sulin Ba, dean of the Driehaus College of Business. 

A college education remains the most potent pathway for social mobility, yet disparities remain for students from underrepresented communities,” she says. “Many of our students are the first in their families to attend college, and they may have no industry connections or role models for accessing career opportunities in finance, accounting and other business fields. Our business community collaborations create opportunities for students to acquire mentors, career skills, internships and industry connections that allow them to turn their career ambitions into reality.” 

Learn more about the impact of these initiatives through the profiles of three DePaul next-generation business leadersa freshman, a graduate student and a recent alumnawhose success has been empowered by the Driehaus College of Business and its business community allies.

  • Olivia Perez: The Greenwood Project and DePaul opened “a whole new world for me”
  • Seerat Kaler: Paying it forward to empower women in finance

By Robin Florzak

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