Developing Diverse and Inclusive Leaders

As our community grows more diverse, we must provide educational offerings that reflect the experiences and perspectives in our classrooms. We also recognize the immense responsibility and opportunity we have to prepare our students to lead in a business world that is increasingly diverse — and increasingly values diversity within organizations.

Below please find our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Annual Report's Curriculum and Classroom section, which details how our curriculum and classrooms support our students and prepare them to be inclusive leaders, now and in the future. The full report can be found here

Faculty & Students

Phillips Pathway for Inclusive Leadership

The Phillips Pathway for Inclusive Leadership (PPIL) is a first-of-its-kind, CBS community-driven co-curricular program for MBA students designed by Mariah Celestine ’20 and Camira Livers-Powell ’20 in collaboration with the DEI Initiative, and piloted in collaboration with the DEI Initiative as well as the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Center for Leadership and Ethics.

PPIL aims to equip CBS students with the essential skills necessary for leading inclusively through a combination of assessments, workshops, and programmatic endeavors throughout their educational journey. PPIL events are co-created by CBS stakeholders including student clubs, academic divisions, Centers and Programs, the Office of Student Affairs, the Dean’s Office, and more. All Centers and Programs, academic divisions, and student clubs are encouraged to host at least one PPIL-approved event each year, covering one essential skill and one DEI topic from the list below.

10 DEI Topics

  1. Ability, Disability, Ableism
  2. Age, Aging, Ageism
  3. DEI Tools and Policies
  4. Faith, Religious Identity, or Secular Worldview
  5. Gender Identity and Equity    
  6. Global Citizenship
  7. LGBTQIA+ Identity and Equity
  8. Privilege and Power
  9. Racial Identity and Equity
  10. Socioeconomic Status and Classism    

5 Essential Skills

  1. Creating an Inclusive Environment
  2. Mitigating Bias
  3. Communicating Across Identities
  4. Addressing Systemic Inequality
  5. Managing Difficult Conversations


Program History

In January 2020, Camira Livers-Powell and Mariah Celestine registered for an independent study course with Vice Dean Johar, with the goal of mapping out a journey of DEI touchpoints for MBA students. Through the Dean’s Summer Fellowship program in Summer 2020, they continued working with the Vice Dean, and the original vision evolved into a proposal for a transformative new co-curricular program for all students across the academic programs. Dean Maglaras embraced the opportunity to bring this innovative DEI co-curricular program to CBS students, and he instituted an ambitious timeline for the PPIL with a pilot program set for first-year MBA students in Spring 2021. The full program will launch over the course of the 2021–2022 academic year.

Spring 2021 Pilot Phase

During the pilot phase of the PPIL, all first-year MBA students were enrolled in the community-wide mandate to attend at least one PPIL-approved event and submit a post-event reflection form. In order to successfully phase in the program for all academic programs in the future, we also formed a student advisory council, which provided us with critical feedback to help us address the specific needs of each student population as well as assess the overall impact of the program on the student body.

PPIL is inspired by the profound research and life’s work of the late Professor Katherine W. Phillips. A beloved member of the Columbia Business School community since 2011 and world-renowned expert on diversity in the workplace, Professor Phillips was a highly dedicated teacher, mentor, and collaborator who worked diligently to create an inclusive community among faculty, staff, and students. She was a real agent for change, and CBS is honored to name this groundbreaking program in her honor.

During this phase, all students across the academic programs had the opportunity to plan and participate in PPIL-approved events and workshops. The CBS Dean’s Office, Office of Student Affairs, Career Management Center, numerous academic divisions, 15 Centers and Programs, and 21 student clubs coordinated over 65 PPIL-approved events. Student reflections have yielded valuable insights about the initial launch and success of the program, as demonstrated in these sample PPIL reflection excerpts on the following page:

Conveniently Overlooked: Being Asian in America

  • Essential Skills
    • Addressing Systemic Inequity, Creating an Inclusive Environment, Mitigating Bias
  • DEI Topics
    • Global Citizenship and Racial Identity & Equity
  • Student Reflection
    • “As an Asian international student, I have experienced some Asian discrimination in the US. This event helped me to put my experiences into a broad context and history. In terms of leadership, it is necessary to know about existing discrimination with background and history. I think I can use this knowledge to create a more inclusive culture in my teams.”

X-Perience: The Transgender Experience + AMA (TDOV)

  • Essential Skills
    • Addressing Systemic Inequity, Communicating Across Identities, Managing Difficult Conversations
  • DEI Topics
    • LGBTQIA+ Identity and Equity
  • Student Reflection
    • “This session equipped me with specific tools to help me create a more inclusive environment for my trans and gender non-conforming peers and coworkers, from guidance on language/pronouns to suggestions on how to show support for transitioning people. I appreciated the mixture of high-level and fine-grain insight the speakers offered, and will start applying their advice literally tomorrow in class.”

VCision 20/20: Navigating VC from the Lens of Underrepresented CBS Alumni

  • Essential Skills
    • Addressing Systemic Inequity, Creating an Inclusive Environment, Mitigating Bias
  • DEI Topics
    • DEI Tools and Policies, Gender Identity and Equity, Racial Identity and Equity, Socioeconomic Status and Classism
  • Student Reflection
    • “It was truly eye-opening to hear some of the experiences that the speakers went through in their pursuit of careers in venture capital and once they had broken into the industry. It really emphasized how important it is to be aware of how systemic racism and sexism are baked into almost every industry and how these forces negatively impact the lives of underrepresented groups. In my career, I will always try to recognize these forces in action and play an active role in combating them.”

Sample PPIL Student Journey (MBA)

First Semester

  • LEAD Survey DEI Assessment
  • Leading Inclusively
  • One PPIL-Approved Event + Reflection
  • Optional: Managing Difficult Conversations Workshops

Second Semester

  • One PPIL-Approved Event + Reflection
  • Optional: Unconscious Bias Workshop

Third Semester

  • One PPIL-Approved Event + Reflection
  • Optional: Unpacking Diversity Dynamics in Organizations Workshop

Fourth Semester

  • One PPIL-Approved Event + Reflection
  • LEAD Final Assessment
  • Optional: Understanding Intersectionality at Work
  • DEI Training for Faculty

Training and Faculty in Conversation: Since 2019, CBS has featured different types of training: two Everfi online training modules on Diversity in the Workplace and Managing Bias, a number of events featuring outside trainers, as well as “Faculty in Conversation” (FiC) sharing best practices in inclusive teaching.

DEI Coach: The Samberg Institute has a new DEI-focused faculty coach available for consultation since early 2020; the coach has met with eight faculty members to work on facilitating difficult DEI-related discussions and to help them make their course materials and activities more inclusive.

DEI Resources at Samberg: Samberg has expanded their website to include information on inclusive teaching in different formats and created a one-page inclusive teaching checklist for faculty.

DEI Elective Courses

In addition to the mandatory co-curricular Phillips Pathway for Inclusive Leadership (PPIL) program, CBS offers other electives with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion such as the ReEntry Acceleration Program, Bridging the American Divides, and Executive Ethics. You can read descriptions of these courses in the appendix.

Introducing Pronouns and Name Pronunciation to the CBS Classroom

In January 2020, Columbia Business School was among the first schools at Columbia University to participate in the University Life Pronouns in Use pilot program. This program offered MBA, EMBA, MS, and PhD students the opportunity to register their gender pronouns and record their name pronunciation using the NameCoach tool in Canvas.

In Fall 2020, the CBS Office of Student Affairs and the Information Technology Group introduced custom virtual backgrounds that feature the user's pronouns.

Seating Randomization

Following a recommendation from the 2018–2019 DEI Committee, in Fall 2019, the Samberg Institute for Teaching Excellence introduced randomized seating in core classes in order to create a more inclusive learning environment for all students.

Guest Speakers

One of the rich opportunities available to CBS students is the chance to hear from excellent industry experts visiting classes for guest lectures. We are committed to ensuring that these visitors represent diverse backgrounds and perspectives. In partnership with External Relations, the DEI Initiative developed and shared a list of women and BIPOC CBS alumni with faculty to facilitate connections.

In addition, we instituted a new practice of tracking previously uncaptured data on guest speakers in our classrooms. We will continue to capture this data and in time, set diversity goals for the speakers in our classrooms.


Columbia CaseWorks develops teaching cases and materials specifically designed for the Columbia Business School classroom. All materials are closely tied to or based on the e-research and expertise of Columbia Business School’s world-renowned faculty. As part of the DEI Initiative at CBS, CaseWorks has begun work to increase women, URM, and international representation in the case catalog. The goal is to be close to 50% female protagonists in cases taught in the core, and there has been clear progress toward the goal as seen in the data. (Figure 07 in the Dashboard.)

Dean’s Summer Fellows Program

This program paired MBA, EMBA, and MS students with faculty in the summer of 2020 to work on updating classroom materials and cases, with a stated diversity and inclusion focus. Nineteen cases came out of this effort, with 11 featuring diverse protagonists—international, female, LGBTQ+, or URM. The Fellows were presented a survey question: “The material developed will increase diversity in the course.” The overall score on a 5-point scale was 4.5, with 5 meaning “strongly agree.” As the following quotes reveal, the students worked hard to diversify course content. This program was repeated in Summer 2021.

Share an aspect or impact of your project/course that was meaningful to you and let us know why:

“We were able to diversify examples taught in LEAD; removal of antiquated examples and certain biases.”

Leslye Barth ’20    

“It was refreshing to find diverse protagonists and incorporate their accomplishments into the case.”

Caroline Froehlich ’20

“It was great to participate in a conversation about equity and inclusion surrounding cases (writing and teaching) during these trying times. I clearly see the effort and care CaseWorks puts into all cases, old and new, to make sure they reflect the values of our times.”

Christiana Rosales ’21    

“Working with a team coming from different cultural backgrounds (Lebanese, French, and Chinese) as well as working on two companies operating in Europe and Africa was very interesting and an enriching experience that has widened my horizon and knowledge in these regions and industries.”

Karim Soubra ’21