Fostering an Inclusive and Equitable Environment

Building a more diverse Columbia Business School requires more than a concerted effort to expand our community. In addition to recruiting a diverse faculty, staff, and student body, we must also foster a climate where they will want to stay, one where all community members — including our surrounding community in New York City — feel included, respected, and valued, and are treated equitably.

Below please find our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Annual Report's Culture and Climate section, which outlines how we ensure that the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion are embedded in every facet of our culture. The full report can be found here

School-Wide Initiatives

Columbia Business School Values Statement

To anchor our DEI work, in May 2020, the 2019–2020 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Standing Committee created and published the Columbia Business School Values Statement. The statement received unanimous support from the Executive Committee and articulates the School’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Read the statement in the introduction.

Race, Diversity, and Inclusion Task Force

Since its inception in 2019, the Columbia Business School DEI Initiative has focused on these critical areas of racial justice:

  • Creating an inclusive and equitable campus environment
  • Building a sustainable, racially diverse CBS faculty
  • Increasing the racial diversity of MBA/EMBA students
  • Establishing a rewarding environment for staff that is diverse and inclusive

In August 2020, Dean Maglaras convened a Task Force on Race, Diversity, and Inclusion (RDI Task Force) at Columbia Business School to make recommendations in these areas. The task force was co-chaired by Professors Modupe Akinola and Chris Mayer and composed of faculty, staff, and students.

In May 2021, the RDI Task Force provided detailed recommendations to the DEI Initiative to ensure that the Business School is a place that is inclusive. These recommendations, some of which are well underway, inform the DEI goals and strategy for the next three years.

DEI Event Planning Checklist

In August 2020, in an effort to help all CBS stakeholders develop more diverse and inclusive events, the DEI Initiative and The Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Center for Leadership and Ethics partnered to create and publish a DEI Event Planning Checklist to be used school-wide, including guidance on topics like speaker sourcing, agenda creation, venue selection, accessibility, and more. This checklist has been shared with student clubs and Centers and Programs.


Seminar Speakers

Our academic divisions host robust research seminar series, and we have started tracking previously uncaptured data on seminar speakers at CBS. In Fall 2020, the DEI Initiative launched a new research seminar series in partnership with each academic division to showcase research on DEI topics. Throughout the 2020–2021 year, we hosted six seminars in partnership with academic divisions and a Center.

Provost’s Grants

Each year, the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement at Columbia University offers a grant program for junior and mid-career faculty. These grants are designed to support Schools’ diversity plans by advancing the career success of outstanding junior and mid-career faculty who contribute to the diversity goals of the University by their research, teaching, and mentoring activities. The DEI Initiative, in partnership with the CBS Office of the Senior Vice Dean of Faculty Affairs, prepares submissions for these grants every semester. Since 2015, 15 CBS faculty members have been named award recipients through this grant program.

Child Care Travel Support Program

In January 2020, CBS introduced a new initiative, the Faculty Child Care Travel Support Program, to provide partial funding for additional child care that may be necessary when faculty members travel for academic and professional development purposes. Starting in January 2020, Columbia Business School piloted this program to full-time faculty members to help meet the costs of child care incurred due to professional travel. Faculty members attending conferences, meetings, or professional development opportunities, or conducting approved research, will be eligible to apply for up to $1,500 per calendar year.


Leadership Roles

In Spring 2020, the MBA Student Government Executive Board introduced two new roles, the Vice Presidents of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Through signature events and individual contributions to the CBS culture and community, the VPs of DEI promote the areas of DEI, citizenship, leadership, mutual respect, and integrity. The VPs of DEI also assist the Office of Student Affairs and the DEI Initiative with the planning and execution of mandated programming such as the Sexual Respect & Community Citizenship Initiative and other relevant non-mandated programming.

In addition to these Executive Board (ExBo) roles, cluster leadership also evolved in Fall 2020 to include a designated Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion chair for each cluster. These chairs work closely alongside the ExBo VPs for DEI as well as the larger cluster board.

DEI Training for MBA Students

At CBS, all MBA students attend inclusive leadership and global citizenship sessions as part of mandatory training during Orientation. Building off these introductory sessions, our first-year students, as part of their LEAD class, also attend a half-day “Leading Inclusively” module midway through their first semester.

In addition to these standing sessions, which we are working on revising and expanding, the DEI Initiative assisted with the rollout of six additional DEI trainings and inclusive leadership sessions for MBA students throughout the 2020–2021 academic year with a combination of internal and external trainers:

Peer Advisor + CMC Fellows Training: Through an effort by the OSA, the Career Management Center (CMC), and faculty teaching the LEAD core course, Peer Advisors and CMC Fellows received inclusive leadership training prior to starting their leadership positions in Fall 2020.

Implicit Bias Training: The OSA and multiple clusters in the Class of 2022 partnered in Fall 2020 to host an implicit bias training with Project Implicit.

Cluster Chair and DEI Chair Training: The OSA, the DEI Initiative, and the Bernstein Center hosted a peer leadership training with Natalia Villarmán, CEO of Seen at Work. This training included strategies for facilitating difficult conversations and practicing cross-cultural competencies.

Spring Peer Advisor Training: The OSA, in partnership with the Office of University Life and the DEI Initiative, hosted a “Navigating Uncomfortable Conversations” for Peer Advisors who would be leading J-term orientation activities.

Antiracism 101: In partnership with the OSA, Dean Melanie Pagán of SIPA, and Dean Samantha Shapses of CBS, the DEI Initiative hosted an introductory conversation on antiracism and systemic oppression.

Bias Reduction Training with Dr. Crawford: Dr. Dana E. Crawford, PhD, is a nationally recognized clinical psychologist who is currently a scholar in residence at Columbia University's Zuckerman (Mind, Brain & Behavior) Institute. Dr. Crawford facilitated an interactive training focused on reducing bias in professional and personal contexts, using her patented Crawford Bias Reduction Theory.

CBS Reflects Survey: CBS Reflects is a student-run leadership advisory board designed to build and bolster a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at Columbia Business School. Their flagship project is a DEI climate survey for all students across the CBS community. A first-year survey is conducted every fall to gauge the culture and climate in incoming clusters, and a school-wide survey is conducted every spring for all MBA students. The findings from these surveys inform the work of the DEI Initiative, OSA, CMC, Admissions, the Dean’s Office, Samberg, CaseWorks, and more.

Advancing Racial Equity: The Advancing Racial Equity course was built in partnership with the DEI Initiative, Executive Education Social Enterprise Program, and three Faculty leads, Modupe Akinola and Adam Galinsky from CBS, and Caryn Block from Teachers College. This program provides participants with an in-depth understanding of the barriers that organizations face in increasing diversity and racial equity, offering a range of solutions and hands-on tools for eliminating these barriers and creating more inclusive organizations.



Founded in 2020 by three members of the staff community, Bianca Bellino, Pamela McKelvin-Jefferson, and Lan To, IDEAS (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, Social & Systemic Justice) Committee is a DEI professional community focused on building staff capacity to co-create, drive, and engage in a thoughtful DEI culture at CBS. The vision is for CBS to have a diverse and talented workforce and an inclusive and responsible workplace where everyone feels a strong sense of belonging.

DEI Training for Staff

Over the past year, the DEI Initiative provided over 12 staff-specific trainings and workshops on topics including racial bias reduction, having difficult conversations, cultural agility, performance management, and active allyship with an anti-racist lens.

External Partnerships

Columbia Business School has long-standing commitments to the Harlem community through our small business training initiatives and volunteer opportunities with Harlem schools and nonprofit organizations. We highlight three initiatives below, and you can find a list of the community-based programs and partnerships of Columbia Business School in Harlem and Washington Heights here.

Columbia-Harlem Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

The Columbia-Harlem Small Business Development Center (SBDC) offers resources, mentorship, and programs for small business owners and entrepreneurs in the Harlem and southern Bronx neighborhoods.

Columbia-Harlem SBDC Services are provided at no cost and serve anyone starting or growing a business in New York State.

Counseling Efforts—Economic Impact Goals for 2021    

  • $8,750,000 to NYS Businesses
  • 1,448 Jobs Supported
  • 28 Startups Launched
  • 400 Clients Counseled    

Programs Include

  • Finance Workshops
  • Marketing Workshops
  • Operations Workshops
  • Monthly Lean Startup Lab
  • 1-on-1 Counseling


Dean’s Summer Fellows Program

The Dean’s Summer Fellows Program provides paid summer internship opportunities in multiple tracks for first-year and graduating second-year MBA students. In the summer of 2020, EMBA and MS students participated as well. As part of the Small Business Consulting track, 12 students, mentored by Professor Alonso Martinez (as well as Executives-in-Residence Toos Daruvala and Joe Timko), worked jointly with the Columbia-Harlem Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to provide consulting services to businesses in the community. The companies served included many Black, Hispanic and/or Latinx, and women-owned businesses. Fellows honed their consulting skills on a variety of issues, including enhancing digital capabilities in response to COVID-19, developing better financial reporting and project economics, and improving hiring and retention practices.

Columbia First Generation Investors Partnership

In Fall 2020, the DEI Initiative launched a new partnership with First Generation Investors, a nonprofit program that teaches high school students in underserved communities the power of investing. Philip Zhou, a CBS EMBA student who since graduated, led this effort, with Columbia undergraduate students mentoring 10 high school students at the Columbia Secondary School. More information can be found at

College students volunteer their time to teach high school students about investing and give them real money to invest.

8-Week Program Overview

  • College student volunteers enroll local high school students
  • Volunteers deliver interactive sessions about investing
  • Students choose real investments with $100 provided by donors    

CBS-Sponsored Program Includes

  • 30 high school students at Columbia Secondary School in Harlem
  • Run by Columbia undergraduate Wesley Uwaezuoke with 15 CU volunteers
  • Mentored by CBS EMBA student Philip Zhou ’21