Purpose in Business: Women’s Career Priorities


Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future (WNSF)

NET NOTES From the Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future (WNSF) December 2008 Vol. VI Number 3


I. Presentation
“Purpose in Business: Women’s Career Priorities” hosted by Deloitte, New York City, November 18, 2008

II. Presenters:
Nancy McGaw; Deputy Director, Business and Society Program, The Aspen Institute
Stephanie Quappe; Global Talent Management, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu
Amy Brenner; Senior Manager, Deloitte Financial Advisory Services LLP

III. Key Findings

IV. Presentation

V.Next Events
February 12: Luncheon panel on “Economic Crisis and Climate Policy: Risks and Opportunities,” hosted by Swiss Re in New York City

Spring 2009: WNSF’s first West Coast Summit
Details and registration at http://www.wnsf.org

VI. News
WNSF and Chinese partners launch project and competition in Beijing
WNSF Board member Shelly Esque is promoted to Vice President at Intel
WNSF Executive Director Ann Goodman is appointed advisor to Green Spaces competition for social entrepreneurs in NYC

VII. WNSF Concept


The luncheon panel, called “Purpose in Business: Women’s Career Priorities,” focused on businesswomen finding purpose in their careers. Based on a recent study, the Aspen Institute found that emerging MBA women today are putting an increased emphasis on creating social purpose in their jobs. The statistical results from the study were fleshed out with presentations by Deloitte’s Stephanie Quappe and Amy Brenner, two executives who have achieved purpose through social responsibility and their work place.


  • Businesswomen, more so than men, place value on finding purpose in their work and so are more motivated to work for a company they feel gives back to the community through social responsibility and responsible business practices.
  • Men tend to be more concerned with a company’s financial return and with furthering their career. Women, on the other hand, are more interested in finding value in their jobs and having a positive impact on society, beyond monetary gains.
  • In terms of the students’ definition of a well-run company, women place more importance than men do on all factors – except offering a high financial return to shareholders. Some factors emphasized more by women than men include attracting and retaining exceptional employees, providing excellent customer service, and producing high quality products.
  • Ms. Brenner and Ms. Quappe’s presentations demonstrated that by maintaining the drive to find or create work that makes them proud of, it is possible to combine social responsibility on the job in business.


Nancy McGaw presented findings from the Aspen Institute’s 2008 research summary of MBA student attitudes about business and society. Originally surveyed in 1999, MBA students were surveyed again in fall 2007. The 2007 survey was conducted at 15 leading MBA schools in U.S., Canada and U.K. Of the nearly 2000 respondents, 65% were men and 35% were women. Twenty-seven percent of those surveyed are part of Generation Y, (27 and younger).
In ranking factors that define a ‘well-run’ company, women place more emphasis than men do on all of except one: offering high financial return to the shareholders.
In selecting the top three primary responsibilities of companies, women generally place less emphasis than men do on maximizing value for shareholders and satisfying customer needs. Women are more likely to cite producing useful and high quality goods, investing in employee development, and creating value for the local community, above monetary gains.
Reputation of potential employers matters to MBA students when they are looking for a job. Seventy percent of women and 61% of men strongly agree that corporate reputation is important to them when deciding where to work. When considering the specific characteristics of potential employers, such as fair employee relations and responsible and transparent business practices, women appear to have somewhat higher standards than men do.

The executive summary of this MBA student attitude research findings is available at: http://www.aspencbe.org/socuments/ExecutiveSummaryMBAStudentAttitudesReport2008.pdf.

Stephanie Quappe began her career in the banking industry in Germany 15 years ago. While the job utilized her business degree, she did not find meaning in the work and traveled abroad for a year. Through her travels, she was exposed to cultural diversity and the connection between business and culture. Through an international MBA and work in Europe and the United States, she collected international experience and started her own cross-cultural consulting firm, sponsored by the German government. She advised companies on cultural diversity and how to appreciate and use the diverse backgrounds of their employees and co-workers to develop leaders with a global mindset.
Moving to the US in 2005, she began working for Deloitte in Human Capital Consulting and participated in the International Business Resource Group, a diversity and inclusion employee network, founding the International Buddy Program (I-Buddy), which pairs internal employees with international workers. She also trains internal employees in cultural diversity. Since 2008 she is a manager in the Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu talent management team, responsible for global diversity and inclusion. Through Deloitte, Stephanie has found a way to combine her knowledge and experience in business with her passion for cultural diversity, along the way boosting employee satisfaction–and her own feeling of making a difference in the firm and the world.

Amy Brenner followed in the footsteps of a family anchored in the liberal arts, majoring in history while in college. After her junior year in Paris, however, she decided to focus on international business and began her career at AIG as a political risk underwriter insuring investments in developing countries. She soon learned she needed a more quantitative background in order to advance in her career and returned to school for a joint MBA/Master of International Affairs degree, which would combin her passion for international economic and community development with the finance skills she needed.
After business school, Amy worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers on international mergers and acquisitions and later at Marsh & McLennan on strategy and new product development. At the same time, she did a lot of volunteer work and participated on not-for-profit boards in order to give back to her community. Eventually, she took time off to do volunteer work in Brooklyn to figure out how to more effectively combine her interests in economic and community development with business.
Amy joined Deloitte three years ago, first in an internal strategy and new product development role and now as the leader of the Sustainability practice for Deloitte Financial Advisory Services LLP in the Northeast. She currently helps companies measure the soft and hard benefits of their sustainability and social investment programs, demonstrate that such programs can add value, and more effectively allocate resources to such programs. Since joining Deloitte, Amy has been able to use her business background to have a positive impact on her community and environment.

Guests then discussed in groups of two or three the “one moment” in their career that influenced them to take on initiatives that fulfilled their personal passions and helped them find purpose in their work – and to consider specific steps they could take to get on the pathway toward finding more meaning in their work.

  • Several participants mentioned that a defining moment came when they realized that corporations can give to society as well as be financially successful.
  • Others mentioned finding internal supporters of ethnic, racial and gender diversity as a key moment.
  • Still others stressed the importance of working in a company that’s “up front” about its policies and inclusive or representative of the population at large.
  • One discussant mentioned the importance of having conversations about “gaps” between purpose and job, raising questions such as:
    • Is there a peer community?
    • Is the corporate culture a good fit?
    • Is the job type a good fit?


WNSF’s next luncheon panel, “Economic Crisis and Climate Policy: Risks and Opportunities,” will be hosted by Swiss Re in New York City on February 12, 12 noon to 2pm. Details and registration at WNSF’s web site: http://www.wnsf.org

Look for your email invitation to WNSF’s first West Coast Summit, to be held in Silicon Valley in Spring 2009. Details will be posted shortly on the WNSF web site.


In December in Beijing, WNSF and Chinese partners launched a sustainability competition for Chinese businesswomen, the centerpiece of a two-year-old, ongoing sustainability dialogue, exchange and outreach for US and Chinese businesswomen.

WNSF Board member Shelly Esque was promoted to Vice President at Intel, where she is one of a handful of women to have achieved that position.

WNSF Executive Director Ann Goodman has been appointed advisor to the NYC-based Green Spaces competition for environmental entrepreneurs in NYC. See details of the contest at http://www.greenspaces.nyc.com

  • In December, WNSF spoke at the launch of a sustainability competition for Chinese businesswomen, All members are encouraged to join the Leadership Circle, which is a way to enrich sustainability leadership skills of women and an opportunity to network with businesswomen who are also interested in sustainable leadership.
  • Companies can get involved by volunteering to host a luncheon.
  • There will be another luncheon in early February; See events posted on WNSF’s web site (www.wnsf.org) and stayed tuned for more information.
  • WNSF board member Shelly Esque was recently named Vice President for Intel Corporation.


WNSF provides a forum for business and professional women to congregate, reflect, and act on the converging issues of corporate social responsibility and sustainable development. Through meetings and simple electronic support tools, the Network aims to facilitate the exchange of experiences and best practices on these vital workplace issues. By creating a new network of executive women, the Network seeks to improve responsible practices in workplaces; sensitize corporate culture more generally to issues of sustainability and social responsibility; and encourage a public commitment locally, nationally, and internationally to sustainability principles.

For more information, please contact:
Ann Goodman, PhD
Executive Director

BOARD OF DIRECTORS: CHAIR: Kathy Robb, Esq., Partner and Head of Environmental Practice, Hunton & Williams; Marlys Appleton, VP, Alternative Investments and Sustainability, AIG; Dianne Dillon Ridgley, Director, Interface Inc. Board; Shelly Esque, VP, Intel Corporation; Karen Flanders, Director of Sustainability, Coca-Cola Co.; Joanne Fox-Przeworski, Director, Bard Center for Environmental Policy, Bard College; Ann Goodman, Executive Director, WNSF; Sarah Howell, Director, Corporate Communications, BP; Michele Kahane, Special Projects Director, Center for Corporate Citizenship, Boston College; Clair Krizov, Executive Director of Environmental and Social Responsibility, AT&T; Joyce La Valle, Senior Vice President, Interface Inc.

The Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future is a 501c3 organization.
This issue of Net Notes was compiled by Kat Barnes
Copyright 2008 Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future

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