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John R. Lewis Racial Justice Case Competition announces semifinalists

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Melanie Buckmaster

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

Emory University’s Goizueta Business School has announced the 20 semifinalist teams of the 2022 John R. Lewis Racial Justice Case Competition.

To broaden the nationwide impact of this vital initiative that launched in 2021, Goizueta Business School serves as the overall competition organizer and host school. With a focus on examining how companies can address racial injustice within their organizations, Goizueta has partnered with Cornell University SC Johnson College of Business, Howard School of Business, Rice University Jones Graduate School of Business, and Yale School of Management. Goizueta also welcomes its corporate sponsors Accenture, IBM/Call for Code, Moderna, Taco Bell, UPS and Momentive.ai.

As the focus of the competition this year, entrants were invited to complete industry-specific applications for the categories of consulting and professional services, food and beverage, health care, technology, and transportation and logistics. This year’s competition drew 76 applicant teams from more than 40 universities who will compete for monetary prizes ranging from $5,000 to $20,000. All prizes are a one-to-one split, with 50% given to the winning team and 50% donated to an organization advancing racial justice of the winner’s choosing.

“I’m thrilled with the quality of the applications this year. It is clear these student teams invested in research to understand their chosen industry and they provided thoughtful ideas about the issues they identified,” says Lynne Segall, associate dean for management practice initiatives and senior lecturer of organization and management. “I hope each team that submitted an application feels proud regardless of whether they are advancing, and I encourage them to keep these issues front of mind as they move on in their careers, as we need all leaders focused on addressing systemic racism.”

In the preliminary round, applicant teams were judged on their ability to identify issues of racial justice in their specific industry and describe business’ role in solving said issues; their problem-solving approach; their rationale for selecting an organization to which their winning would be donated; and their demonstration of why their team represents diversity.

In the semifinal round, applicant teams will be judged by corporate partners, racial justice nongovernmental organization (NGO) partners, faculty and elected officials who used a numerical scoring system across the following criteria: potential for impact; feasibility of recommendations; creativity of solution; boldness; research quality and evidential support for recommendations; story structure and narrative; slide craft; and presentation delivery.

Semifinalist teams announced

Goizueta is proud to announce that the 20 semifinalist teams advancing to the next round of the competition are:

  • Accenture (consulting and professional services)
    • Cornell University, Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management
    • Emory University, Goizueta Business School
    • Johns Hopkins University, Carey Business School
    • University of Pennsylvania, Wharton Business School
  • Taco Bell (food and beverage)
    • Indiana University, Kelley School of Business
    • University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business
    • University of Virginia, Darden School of Business
    • Yale University, School of Management
  • Moderna (health care)
    • University of Florida, Hough Graduate School of Business
    • Indiana University, Kelley School of Business
    • Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management
    • Rice University, Jones School of Business
  • IBM Call for Code (technology)
    • University of California – Berkeley, Haas School of Business
    • University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business
    • University of Washington, Foster School of Business
    • Yale University, School of Management
  • UPS (transportation and logistics)
    • Earlham College
    • Georgia Institute of Technology, Scheller College of Business
    • Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business
    • The University of Texas at Dallas, Naveen Jindal School of Business 

Origins of the John R. Lewis Racial Justice Case Competition to Address Systemic Racism and Racial Inequality

This first-of-its-kind competition was held Jan. 21, 2021, spearheaded by MBA graduate Willie Sullivan to examine how companies can address racial injustice within their organizations. A team from the USC Marshall School of Business took first place, the Goizueta Business School team took second place, and the Harvard Business School team took home the audience award.

The 105 team applicants were narrowed to 24 teams of students from across the country that investigated how their assigned corporation could best use its resources to address issues of racial injustice and disparities in wealth, health and education. Fortune 500 companies including Walmart, Salesforce, HP, Johnson & Johnson, Southern Company and Truist Bank joined as corporate partners to serve as models to help their organizations address structural racism.

“2020 was a time of reckoning; it enabled those who could not or historically chose not to see the deep roots of inequity in America to not only open their eyes to these realities, but also to intentionally move in solidarity with Black communities in the name of racial justice. While we are no longer sitting in that moment, the need for transformative racial justice work in both business and society persists, as it has for centuries,” says MBA student Jasmine Burton, co-managing director. “As a coordinating leadership team, we are thrilled to see that diverse students across the country are continuing to use their skillsets and mindsets to showcase their commitment to racial equity, while also seeking to support companies in making lasting change to their DEI practices both within their companies and beyond.”

Additional information about the John R. Lewis Racial Justice Competition including how individuals can register to attend the final presentations can be found at emory.biz/jlcc.


About Goizueta Business School at Emory University

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 online.

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.