As Russia’s war on its neighbor Ukraine approaches the one-month mark, pressure is mounting on major global companies to pull out of Russia. On Sunday (March 13), Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy framed the argument in the starkest terms yet, tweeting to his 5.3 million followers on Twitter:
Now can be no ‘half’ decisions or ‘halftones’! There is only black and white, good or evil! You are either for peace or support the bloody Russian aggressor to kill Ukrainian children and women. @Microsoft @Oracle @SAP, stop supporting your products in Russia, stop the war!
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) March 13, 2022
AS PRESSURE MOUNTS, MBAs TAKE NOTICE
Microsoft and many of the companies facing pressure to take a stand are, of course, top employers of MBAs — or at least where MBAs aspire to work. Top MBA programs, meanwhile, use such prestige employers as selling points in their annual employment reports.
MBAs are very likely watching how these companies react. Poets&Quants has increasingly reported in recent years on MBA candidates’ desire to join organizations that share their values. NYU Stern’s Center for Business & Human Rights, for example, attracts a growing number of students who believe business can and should be a force for good. Alex Edmans, P&Q’s 2022 Professor of the Year, is consistently voted one of London Business School’s most popular professors while teaching the business case for responsibility. And in January, a year after the January 6 insurrection against the U.S. Capitol, more than 300 MBAs signed an open letter to the Business Roundtable urging companies to protect U.S. democracy.
Now, responsibility-minded MBAs have a comprehensive database on how their preferred future employers are responding to the Ukrainian crisis.
YALE SOM COMPILING LIST OF COMPANIES PULLING OUT OF RUSSIA
On February 28, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and his research team at the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute published the full list of companies that had publicly announced curtailing business operations in Russia. Then, only a few dozen companies had made such proclamations. Today (March 14), 375 companies had announced their withdrawal.
As the list went public and began attracting widespread media attention, along with a growing pressure campaign against companies operating on social media, more and more companies started announcing their withdrawal.
“We have a history of seeing the value of business leaders affirming the truth and taking a stand,” Sonnenfeld, a senior associate dean and Lester Crown Professor of Leadership Practice at Yale’s School of Management, told the Washington Post on March 8. “CEOs need peer approval,” he said, noting that they often follow others’ lead to avoid standing alone.
Sonnenfeld and his team have pledged to update the list daily.
P&Q wanted to know which of the most popular MBA employers were adjusting their Russian business operations. We compared our previously reported lists of the top consulting firms, investment banks, and other major MBA employers to the Sonnenfeld’s list. You can find that analysis below, or see the full updated list here.
WHICH CONSULTING FIRMS ARE PULLING OUT OF RUSSIA?
Last month, Vault released its ranking of the top 50 consulting firms to work for in 2022, and obviously the big three – McKinsey, Bain and BCG – all topped the list. McKinsey and BCG both suspended all consulting activities in Russia. while Bain suspended consulting for all Russian government entities, according to Sonnenfeld’s list.
“In 2020 we ceased work with all branches of government in Russia, and in sectors like military and intelligence,” Bain’s CEO Manny Maceda wrote in a March 4 Linked-In post. “Earlier this week we informed our local team that, effective immediately, we will no longer work with any Russian business (State Owned or private) and that we have put a moratorium on new work of any kind. Our Moscow office will remain open for now, allowing our people who choose to remain in Russia to serve other global clients while a remote working model remains feasible.”
Among the next tier of consulting leaders, only two are listed as having suspended operations in Russia. EY Parthenon is leaving Russia completely while Kearney has suspended some operations. Deloitte, ranked No. 11, is also leaving the country completely. The rest of the top 25 are not on the list, meaning they either don’t have current operations in Russia or they are continuing to provide services in the country.
After the move of the big three MBBs, it will be interesting to see if other consulting firms follow suit.
Vault’s top 50 investment banks to work for ranking came out in January. Most of the top 25 banks are not listed on the list meaning they either don’t have business relationships in Russia or they haven’t made significant changes to the Russian operations they have.
Four of the top 25 have announced moves in the country. Goldman Sachs (Vault’s top ranked Investment Bank) and J.P. Morgan (No. 3) have both reported that they would wind down their Russian business but will buy Russian debt. Deutsche Bank (No. 24) will wind down its Russian business while Credit Suisse (No. 14) will curtain Russian access to capital markets.
One Investment bank, Citi, is remaining in Russia and has $9.8 billion of net exposure in the country, according to Sonnenfeld’s complimentary list of countries staying in Russia, updated as of March 14.
OTHER TOP MBA EMPLOYERS
Obviously, not all MBAs are looking for jobs in consulting or investment banking. This summer, Menlo Coaching, the premium MBA admissions consulting firm, published results from its first analysis of the major companies employing graduates of Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business and Wharton School.
Several of these companies are titans of American industry, and many are among the leading tech companies who hire MBAs from top programs.
Google’s parent company, Alphabet, for example, has suspended all Russian operations. As has Microsoft, perhaps as a result of President Zelenskyy’s tweet to from other outside pressure. Tech leader Amazon has suspended some services while Apple has suspended all sales.
The major social media platforms have taken at least some action, walking the fine line between providing Russians with independent information apart from government propaganda, while also facing the fact that their platforms are used to spread misinformation. The Russian government has also blocked several major social platforms in an attempt to control the flow of information.
Facebook (Meta) has suspended Russia advertising while Twitter has suspended certain operations. TikTok, meanwhile, has taken the strongest stance by suspending all operations in the country.
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