Dear Columbia Business School community and friends,
We, the Student Leadership and Ethics Board (SLEB), write to denounce the recent horrific acts of injustice, racism, and unethical leadership and to stand in solidarity with our African and African American classmates and community members. The recent deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and countless others have engrossed the nation and uncovered the drastic need for broad-based change.
In addition, we write to reflect upon the profound loss The Bernstein Center and the Columbia community experienced with the untimely passing of our Faculty Director, Katherine Phillips. Professor Phillips was a gift to everyone she touched and was a true change agent in this conversation with her influential research on diversity and inclusion. In our first SLEB meeting last year, Professor Phillips acknowledged that she knew her work was sometimes “preaching to the choir”—that the students who took her class were already committed to successfully leading a diverse organization. She assured us, however, that her work was still important because, as a choir, we did not “sound very good yet.”
As we face the horrors of this moment—horrors that have been occurring for many years—we find ourselves craving Professor Phillips’ guidance. We wish we could take her class, feel her vibrant energy, and soak in her wisdom. But even though she is not physically with us today, as future global business leaders, we must carry on her legacy by fighting harder for values-based leadership, justice, and racial equity. It is no longer the time to merely seek guidance. We need to sing, and we need the world to hear our voices.
Throughout this week, we have read numerous beautiful statements from various student groups. There are more discussions occurring, individuals donating, resources being aggregated and shared, and action being taken. We are proud to see so many people using their voices. We are proud to see CBS singing.
And, as part of the Bernstein Center for Leadership and Ethics, SLEB vows to keep singing along with our fellow students by providing more resources to the community to learn and educate ourselves about what it truly means to be a just and ethical leader.
So, for the next academic year, SLEB is committed to doubling-down on its efforts to fight injustice by acting on the following:
- Partnering with the CBS Executive Board to facilitate anti-bias education and training for students
- Collaborating with the Arthur J. Samberg Institute for Teaching Excellence to encourage and equip professors to confront their own biases, to lead more ethical and inclusive discussions in class, and to facilitate conversations around diversity and values-based leadership
- Incorporating discussions around inclusivity, justice, and equity in all Bernstein events including the Montrone Seminar Series on Ethics, Ethics Matters, and Leadership and Ethics Week
- Conducting focus groups and creating platforms for discussions on specific ethical topics, issues and current events to hear all student voices and perspectives and address important questions
Finally, we are committed to listening. In order to achieve the most beautiful harmonies and find our own notes, we must first be great active listeners and challenge ourselves to reflect, learn, and refine our values-based leadership.
If you have any ideas, suggestions, or questions, please share them with us via email: [email protected]. We look forward to hearing your voice and finding a just, equitable, and productive path forward together.
The MBA and EMBA Student Leadership and Ethics Board
For more information, please visit our Student Leadership and Ethics Board homepage.