Emory’s John R. Lewis Racial Justice Case Competition expands in second year

Emory Report | Oct. 5, 2021

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U.S. Rep. John Lewis served as Emory’s Commencement speaker twice, first at the university-wide event in Atlanta in 2014, when he also addressed the School of Law ceremony, and then in 2019 at Oxford College. The civil rights luminary and longtime lawmaker passed away in 2020. Emory Photo/Video

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Applications are now open for Goizueta Business School’s second John R. Lewis Racial Justice Case Competition. The competition seeks student leaders to investigate how companies can address racial injustice within their organizations. The 2022 competition expands its leadership by including students from prominent universities across the country to organize the event and host the semifinals. The application deadline for student teams is Nov. 19, 2021.  

Partner universities include Cornell University SC Johnson College of Business, Rice University Jones Graduate School of Business, Yale School of Management, and Howard University School of Business. 

“At Goizueta we know the issues of injustice and inequality are so big that we can’t be territorial,” says faculty sponsor Lynne Segall, associate dean for management practice

initiatives. “We need to lock arms and be in this together, leading a broader coalition of university students to make a difference.” 

This year, volunteer judges will select 20 semifinalist teams that will be assigned to one of five corporate partners. In December, each team will be given a case prompt specific to their corporate partner’s racial justice and equality goals. The students will then work to create bold, innovative and actionable racial justice and equity initiatives targeted to create lasting change. 

“At Goizueta, we prepare principled leaders to have a positive impact on business and society,” says Karen Sedatole, interim John H. Harland Dean of Goizueta Business School. “I am so proud to see our students and partners coming together to push for critical change to strengthen business and communities alike.”

The John R. Lewis Racial Justice Case Competition was started in 2021 by MBA student Willie Sullivan. He saw dozens of businesses releasing statements on racial injustice and wondered what actionable steps were being taken. With business representing the most trusted institution throughout the country and globally, he asked, “What are companies doing to address issues of racial injustice?”

In its inaugural year, the first-of-its-kind competition had more than 500 students from 52 universities participate. The winning team from the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business created a plan for Johnson & Johnson to use products and incentives to inspire one million Black girls to study STEM. Other companies that participated in the 2021 competition include Walmart, Salesforce, HP, Southern Company and Truist.

The competition is part of The Roberto C. Goizueta Business & Society Institute. The institute represents an elevated commitment by Goizueta Business School to explore how businesses can create long-term value, while addressing the social and environmental challenges of our time. The goal is to reimagine business to solve society’s biggest problems.

“Cornell, Rice, Yale and Howard will help extend our reach to more applicants, new sponsors and more people interested in the finals,” says Kegan Baird, an MBA student at Goizueta, who serves as managing director of the case competition. “It’s incredibly unique to have the opportunity to participate in or lead something like this in an MBA or academic career. It feels wonderful to take action and make something meaningful happen.” 

Learn more about how you can get involved with the John R. Lewis Racial Justice Case Competition.

About Emory University’s Goizueta Business School 

Business education has been an integral part of Emory University’s identity since 1919. That kind of longevity and significance does not come without a culture built on success and service. Emory University’s Goizueta Business School offers a unique, community-oriented environment paired with the academic prestige and rigor of a major research institution. Goizueta develops business leaders of today and tomorrow with an undergraduate degree program, a two-year full-time MBA, a one-year MBA, an evening MBA, an executive MBA, an MS in business analytics, a master of analytical finance, a doctoral degree, and a portfolio of non-degree Emory Executive Education courses. Together, the Goizueta community strives to solve the world’s most pressing business problems. The school is named for the late Roberto C. Goizueta, former chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company. For more information, visit goizueta.emory.edu.

Emory University is recognized internationally as an inquiry-driven, ethically engaged and diverse community whose members work collaboratively for positive transformation in the world through courageous leadership in teaching, research, scholarship, health care and social action. The university consists of an outstanding liberal arts college, highly ranked professional schools, and one of the larger and more comprehensive health care systems in the Southeast.