2018 Shared Prosperity Conference


Business+Impact at the Ross School of Business is proud to collaborate with the Aspen Institute Business & Society Program for a conference at the University of Michigan, Oct. 24-26, 2018, entitled, “Working Towards a Shared Prosperity: An Academic-Executive Dialogue.” With fewer opportunities for upward mobility and growing economic inequality, the American Dream is under threat. It is hard to imagine a return to the 1950s style social contract, but it is often overlooked that today’s firms – and their leaders – have choices.  

The purposes of the conference are to:

  • map the “choice points” available to firms—actions that are within business control—that contribute to broadly held prosperity.  What management practices positively effect employees—their development, well-being and productivity—and the labor market more broadly? What new business models do the same?
  • explore the incentives and constraints that are influencing business decisions about hiring, compensation, training, and job quality. What conversations are happening within firms—and in capital markets—around these issues? What are the narratives, assumptions and frameworks that result in less than desirable outcomes for low-wage workers? What conditions allow for “better” decisions?
  • examine recent and on-the-horizon changes in labor, capital and product markets, including the ascendance of AI. What are the effects of all these changes on economic inequality? Importantly, how do managerial choices feed back into these markets?
  • determine leverage points of change both in practice and academia to bring these “choice points” to light.  What would it take to establish new narratives and introduce new decision-making frameworks? What stakeholders need to be engaged?  What research needs to be highlighted and what questions need to be further investigated?

Watch Sessions & Speakers:


Program Line-up

Wednesday, October 26th

6:00 – 7:30 PM
Opening Cocktail Reception
Featuring The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers


Thursday, October 25th

8:15 – 9:00 AM
Breakfast & Registration

9:00 – 9:45 AM
Welcome (Plenary)
Why are we examining managerial “choice points”? Does the issue of inequality all come down to profit and power? Or are there assumptions and frameworks that influence corporate decisions that have 2nd and 3rd order effects on the ladders of economic opportunity?
Gerald Davis, University of Michigan Ross School of Business
Scott DeRue, University of Michigan Ross School of Business
Judith Samuelson, Aspen Institute Business & Society Program

9:45 – 10:45 AM
Session 1—What is the Value of Work? (Plenary)
What are our aspirations for the “social contract” between employers, workers and society? How do firms, workers, and society at large view the obligations of employers? How do we recognize and highlight the inherent dignity in the concept of work, at all levels, and not just the professional or skilled class?
Elizabeth Anderson, University of Michigan
Laphonza Butler, SEIU Local 2015
Peter Cappelli, University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School
Scott Tong, Marketplace (Moderator)

10:45 – 11:15 AM

11:15 – 12:30 PM
Session 2—The COO’s Dilemma: Choice Points in Operational Design (Breakouts)
How do COOs make decisions about the ways firms operate and—and how do these influence the health of employees and society?

a) The Gig Economy and Precarious Work
We’ve seen a rise in temporary, contract and part-time workers. What are the effects of this “plug & play” employment model on inequality and long-term business results?
Lindsey Cameron, University of Michigan Ross School of Business
Steven Hatfield and Jeff Schwartz, Deloitte
Allison Pugh, University of Virginia
Maureen Conway, Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program (Moderator)

b) Who Gets the Job?
As industries and sectors grow, what kinds of hiring practices help or hurt economic inequality? How can talent pipelines be developed in a way that brings the opportunity for good jobs to those that are being marginalized?
Daisy Auger-Dominguez, (formerly) Viacom
Malaika Myers, Hyatt
Nicole Sherard-Freeman, Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation
Branden Snyder, GoodJobsNow
Dror Etzion, McGill University (Moderator)

c) Labor at the Base of the Pyramid
How do corporations create environments that promote quality employment at their supply and distribution partners?
Ach Adhvaryu, University of Michigan Ross School of Business
Sean Ansett, At Stake Advisors
Vik Khanna, University of Michigan Law School
Regina Abrami, University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School (Moderator)

d) Whose Responsibility is it to Create a Skilled Workforce?
What roles have business, government and individual employees played in the past—and what does the future look like?
Teddy DeWitt, University of Michigan Ross School of Business
Chioke Mose-Telesford, City of Detroit Office of Workforce Development
Andrea Wood, Best Buy
Lavea Brachman, Ralph C. Wilson Foundation (Moderator)

12:30 – 1:45 PM
Lunch—Presentation of Accenture/Aspen Research
Eva Sage Gavin, Accenture
Nicholas Whittall, Accenture
Miguel Padro, Aspen Institute Business & Society Program (Moderator)

2:00 – 3:15 PM
Session 3—The CFO’s Dilemma: Capital vs. Labor—Changing Tides (Breakouts)
Rewarding capital has taken precedent over rewarding labor in recent years. What are the drivers in this change? What frameworks and perspectives allow CFOs to make decisions that build healthy, long-standing organizations?

a) Work, Wages and Inequality
Are pay rates truly set by the market? How might we think of wages like we do stock prices–a measurement of the future value of an employee? And how has the provision of benefits shifted over time—and how might it change in the future?
Sue Dynarski, University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy
Kyle Handley, University of Michigan Ross School of Business
David Rolf, SEUI Seattle
Ida Rademacher, The Aspen Institute (Moderator)

b) Standing Up to Investor Pressure
What skills are needed by IR personnel and CFOs to make a case for a reinvestment of profits into human capital?
Adam Cobb, University of Texas
Martin Schmalz, University of Michigan Ross School of Business
Steve Sleigh, Sleigh Strategy LLC
Judith Samuelson, Aspen Institute Business & Society Program (Moderator)

c) Humans vs. Robots
How might the ascendancy of AI effect the balance between capital and labor? How are growth, efficiency and quality weighted when firms are making decisions about automation?
Adam Litwin, Cornell University Industrial and Labor Relations School
Kentaro Toyama, University of Michigan School of Information
Nicholas Whittall, Accenture


3:15 – 3:45 PM


3:45 – 4:45 PM
Session 4—Teaching Immersions (Workshops)
How are innovative faculty challenging the traditional business school view of employment and labor?
a) Economic Inequality and Social Mobility
b) Technological Change at Work
c) Human Capital Sustainability
d) MIT (tentative)

5:00 – 6:15
Session 5—What is the Value of Sharing Prosperity? (Plenary)

Watch the entire presentation here

To the degree that workers are currently viewed as costs to be managed, how do we change the narrative for boards, executives and especially shareholders? How do we utilize the desire for purpose-driven work to combat distrust in capitalism and corporations and tell a different story about how corporations create value for society?
Carl Camden, IPSE US-The Association of Independent Workers and former CEO, Kelly Services, interviewed by Rick Wartzman, Drucker Institute KH Moon Center for a Functioning Society
Joined by John Denniston, Shared X, Joel Rogers, University of Wisconsin Law School and Carmen Rojas, CEO, Workers Lab

6:15 – 7:00 PM

7:00 – 9:00 PM
Dinner and Presentation of Ideas Worth Teaching Awards


Friday, October 26th

8:15 – 9:00 AM

9:00 – 10:15 AM
Session 6—Envisioning the Future: Business as Creators (Plenary)
Watch the entire presentation here
Business is not an innocent bystander when it comes to forces such as technology and market shifts. Why then is the current narrative about how business can “cope” with the future of work instead of recognizing the deep influence business has in building that future? What could a more just version of work look like and how do we get there?
Jim Keane, CEO, Steelcase interviewed by Joe Nocera, Bloomberg
Joined by Maureen Conway, Aspen Institute; and Tom Kochan, MIT Sloan School of Management

10:30 – 11:45 AM
Session 7—The CEO’s Dilemma: Workers and the DNA of a Company (Breakouts)
The culture of a company often comes from the top and enforced by actions by the CEO. What strategies are organizations using to create a symbiotic relationship between employer and employee?

a. Re-designing the Employment Relationship
What makes for a good job—now and in the future? How are market conditions driving decisions about quality work? How do firms choose “good job strategies” and how are these executed—across organizations?
Talia Aharoni, Coller School of Management (Moderator)
Julie Gherki, WalMart
Arne Kalleberg, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Zeynep Ton, MIT Sloan School of Management

b. Reopening Lines of Communication: The Worker Voice
In business and business schools, how do we break the “management v. labor” binary?
Katie Corrigan, AFL-CIO
Debra Plousha Moore, Former Chief of Staff, Atrium Health
Patrick McHugh, George Washington University

c. Ownership: Alternative Structures that Change the Employer – Employee Dynamic
As fewer companies go public, and co-ops and other employee ownership programs are becoming more popular business models, what are the benefits and challenges to these new models and are they being addressed in business schools?
Joseph Blasi, Rutgers University
Kate Cooney, Yale School of Management (Moderator)
David Drews, former CFO for Project WorldWide
Marjorie Kelly, The Democracy Collaborative

d. The Rise of the Activist CEO
We’ve seen more and more business leaders speak out on political issues. What place does the business community have in advocating for policy changes that effect the market and in turn their employees?
David Bach, Yale School of Management
Gerald Davis, University of Michigan Ross School of Business (Moderator)
Rebecca Henderson, Harvard University
Zachary Savas, Cranbrook Partners

11:45 – 12:15 PM

12:15 – 1:15 PM
Session 8—Worker Voice in Business Schools (Workshops)
Issues in labor are rarely addressed inside the halls of the business school. Meanwhile, graduates will go on to start companies, manage teams, and lead organizations without understanding the effects of their decisions. How might we integrate new thinking into traditional management education?

1:15 – 2:15 PM
Lunch and Closing





Conference sponsors:



See a complete gallery of photos from the event


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