Mary L. Connerley, associate professor of management and director of the Business Diversity Center at Virginia Tech's Pamplin College of Business, has received a $10,000 grant from the General Motors/United Negro College Fund Sullivan Fellowship Program that seeks to promote principles of corporate social responsibility developed by the late Rev. Leon H. Sullivan.

It is the fifth annual award Connerley has received from the program, designed to educate students and faculty about the Global Sullivan Principles through campus-based courses and workshops developed by the award recipients. Half of Connerley’s award will support modules that she will develop and teach for courses within the new business diversity minor in fall 2008. The other half is awarded as a scholarship for a student whom Connerley will advise and mentor.

Erin Sheehan of Fairfax, Va., a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering, has been selected as the student participant in the program. Sheehan will receive a paid summer internship at General Motors and will assist Connerley in developing and delivering the modules. Both will attend a General Motors-hosted training workshop on the Sullivan Principles.

A recipient of several teaching and research awards, Connerley specializes in diversity, cross-cultural and expatriate issues, and various aspects of the staffing process. She serves on the Pamplin College’s diversity committee and co-authored a book, Leadership in a Diverse and Multicultural Environment.

As director of Pamplin’s Business Diversity Center, Connerley administers the business diversity minor that the college will begin offering this fall to students; she developed and oversees several courses for the minor. At the Academy of Management’s annual meeting in August, she will give a presentation about the process of creating the minor at a professional development workshop on teaching diversity and “building a diversity minor.”

She will also participate in the Leon H. Sullivan Summit VIII in Arusha, Tanzania, in June 2008. This summit, which will include among its attendees many African presidents and several high-ranking corporate executives, will focus on investment, infrastructural development, tourism, and environmental sustainability.

Leon Sullivan, who died in 2001, was a Philadelphia minister and civil rights leader who became the first black member of General Motors’s board of directors in 1971. He developed the Sullivan Principles in 1977 as a code of conduct for companies operating in South Africa. The Sullivan Principles are generally acknowledged to have helped end workplace discrimination and apartheid there. To expand human rights and economic development to all communities, Sullivan created the Global Sullivan Principles of Social Responsibility in 1997.

In his words: “The objectives of the Global Sullivan Principles are to support economic, social, and political justice by companies where they do business; to support human rights and to encourage equal opportunity at all levels of employment, including racial and gender diversity on decision-making committees and boards; to train and advance disadvantaged workers for technical, supervisory, and management opportunities; and to assist with greater tolerance and understanding among peoples; thereby, helping to improve the quality of life for communities, workers, and children with dignity and equality.”

Share this story