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 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. 

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.

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:

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

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, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Organizations, Bridging the American Divides, and Executive Ethics.

Introducing Pronouns and Name Pronunciation to the CBS Classroom

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.

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.


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.