300+ MBAs Sign Letter Calling On Business Roundtable To Defend U.S. Democracy

Storming of the U.S. Capitol

Rioters outside the US Capitol building on January 6, 2021. A letter signed by more than 300 MBAs calls on business leaders to protect American democracy: Wikipedia photo by Tyler Merbler.

A year after the January 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, more than 300 MBAs from top business schools have signed an open letter calling on business leaders to take action to protect voting rights and America’s democratic institutions. The letter was sent to the Business Roundtable Wednesday evening (January 26), an organizer of the effort tells Poets&Quants.

“On the heels of the one year anniversary of the January 6th Insurrection against American democracy, we – the undersigned business students – have watched with concern as business leaders largely remain silent and sidestep accountability for defending the integrity of American democratic institutions. We believe more courageous, active leadership is required,” reads the letter, a copy of which was provided to P&Q.

The letter was penned by the Cross-MBA Democracy Task Force, a group of MBAs from five of the country’s top business schools: Wharton, Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business and MIT Sloan School of Management. The 300 signatures so far are from MBAs representing more than 10 business schools and counting.

The front page of The New York Times on Jan. 7, 2021

The front page of The New York Times on Jan. 7, 2021

“I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that a lot of America watched in horror as this insurrection, revolt, attack descended on the United States Capitol, leading to a number of people losing their lives,” says Matt Devine, an MBA2 at Stanford GSB and a member of the Cross-MBA Democracy Task Force.

“I think what was most notable was how quickly what felt like a very universal reaction from the American people changed and became quite polarized. It was almost like light hitting a prism, and people started looking at and interpreting the events in very self-serving ways.”

CALLING AMERICA’S TOP CEOS TO ACCOUNT

The Business Roundtable is a lobbyist association of CEOs from top U.S. companies “working to promote a thriving U.S. economy and expanded opportunity for all Americans through sound public policy,” according to its website. Members include Andy Jassy of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple, Lynn Good of Duke Energy, and nearly 200 other chief executives.

The MBA task force letter includes three actions the signed business students want to see business leaders undertake:

  • Enabling employees to be civically engaged in this year’s elections.
  • Withholding financial support from elected officials in Congress and state capitols who deliberately undermine our democracy.
  • Leveraging their platforms and influence to support efforts that expand access to voting.

You can read the full letter and see the signatures of the 300-plus MBAs here or click through to the end of this story. Also check out this commentary from January 7, 2021, written by Poets&Quants editor in chief John Byrne: Why Wharton Should Take Back Trump’s Business Degree.

Poets&Quants interviewed Matt Devine, a writer of the letter and task force member, on Wednesday morning. Read the conversation on the next page. It has been edited for length and clarity.

NEXT PAGE: P&Q’s interview with Matt Devine, Stanford MBA, one of the letter’s authors of the letter and task force member.

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