2018: Business Schools Add #MeToo, Business Ethics and Values to the Curriculum

“Tim Vogus, a professor at Vanderbilt University’s business school, was stoking the debate in his classroom one day  asking first-year M.B.A. students about one of the most successful, and controversial, companies of the day… An M.B.A. education is no longer just about finance and economics. As topics like sexual harassment dominate the national conversation… business schools around the country are hastily reshaping their curriculums with case studies ripped straight from the headlines.” D. Gelles and C. Miller, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Business Schools teach #metoo-Buzzfeed

Excerpt: Business Schools Now Teaching #MeToo, N.F.L. Protests and Trump-By ” D. Gelles and C. Miller, The New York Times

“A toxic culture might be obvious when you think about Uber,” Professor Vogus said. ‘But I’m an old person. What is this whole ‘bro’ thing?’ It’s carrying fraternity culture with you into adult life, said one student, Nick Glennon. Another student, Jonathon Brangan, said, ‘It’s arrogance mixed with the feeling of invincibility.’ ‘You basically have these 20-year-olds who are in charge of these companies that are worth billions of dollars,’ said Monroe Stadler, 26. ‘And they fly too close to the sun.”

Uber sued by female passengers -The Mercury News

At Vanderbilt, there are classes on Uber and ‘bro’ culture. At Stanford, students are studying sexual harassment in the workplace. And at Harvard, the debate encompasses sexism and free speech. ‘There’s a turning point in what’s expected from business leaders,’ said Leanne Meyer, co-director of a new leadership department at the Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business. ‘Up until now, business leaders were largely responsible for delivering products.

Now, shareholders are looking to corporate leaders to make statements on what would traditionally have been social justice or moral issues.’ Several factors are contributing to these revised syllabuses. Bad behavior by big companies has thrust ethics back into the news, from Wells Fargo’s creation of fake accounts to sexual harassment at Fox News to the litany of improprieties at Uber. Some millennials are prioritizing social and environmental responsibility. And a new generation of chief executives is speaking out about moral and political issues…

Business Schools Now Teach#MeToo and NFL Protests and why corporate leaders are expected to get involved.

‘Something has changed,’ said Ed Soule, a professor at the Georgetown McDonough School of Business. ‘I would be kidding you if I told you there wasn’t a different vibe in the classroom.’ This fall, Professor Soule assigned coursework covering sexual harassment at Uber, how companies like Amazon respond when attacked by  Trump and the social justice protests by N.F.L. players.‘Ethics and values have taken on more significance,’ Professor Soule said. ‘It has to do with all of the things going on in this administration, often things that challenge our understanding of ethics and leadership.’

Professors are reacting to the news, but they are also responding to calls from students for classes that deal with ethics. In recent years, students have said ethical issues, not finances, are a business’s most important responsibility, according to a survey of business school students worldwide conducted by a United Nations group and Macquarie University in Australia. ‘There’s a growing body of M.B.A.s who are really passionate about this,’  said LaToya Marc, who graduated from Harvard Business School last spring and now works in sales and operations at Comcast. ‘It may not affect your bottom line directly, but it needs to be affecting how you make decisions.’

At Vanderbilt, Professor Vogus solicited ideas from the class about how Uber might change its ways. One student suggested hiring fewer star engineers and more team players. Another proposed hiring a woman to lead human resources. When the Uber conversation turned to gender and power dynamics, a female student suggested that women in the Vanderbilt M.B.A. program had to work harder than their male counterparts.

‘The women who do make it to business school are all super strong personalities, whereas the men here can float through without being the cream of the crop,’ Natalie Copley said, adding of the women in the class, ‘They’re not meek little timid things.’That drew jeers from the men in the group, and Professor Vogus changed the subject.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about  the topic.  Next, have students look at the picture(s) in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Debrief as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

Brainstorming Map by rentonschools.us


II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. An example of a toxic culture would be Uber.
  2. Many people carry fraternity culture with them into adult life.
  3. Some bosses have a feeling of invincibility.
  4. Several factors are contributing to these revised syllabuses.
  5. Students also realize that they will be  leaders of increasingly diverse work forces.
  6. Gender is an issue that students are particularly interested in.
  7. Schools also use role-playing scenarios about sensitive situations.
  8. Some of that brashness was actually critical to the company being successful.
  9. She only got the promotion because she’s a woman is inappropriate.
  10. The goal is making sure that women  are  equal to men in the workplace.

Reading Comprehension


Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences  taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

During one___, students___ whether players should have been more ___to the wishes of team___ and the league, or whether the league should have supported players more vocally. The ___grew tense when the ___turned to___for the national___, and Mr. Trump’s ___response to players who continued to kneel as it was played.

WORD LIST:  forceful, anthem, respect, topic, conversation, owners,  deferential, class, debated, 

Grammar Focus

Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

A new topic/top this year is sexual harass/harassment, and how to create/crate  a workplace cult/culture in which people feel comfortable reporting it. The Stanford students studied/studying psychological research showing/show that people are more willing to challenge authority if at least one other person/persons joins them, and discussed ways/way to encourage such reporting.

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

“Common Personality Assessments — And How Employers Use Them”

Directions: Place students in groups and have them  discuss the following article on personality assessments required by employers. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. Here are some  questions for students to think about after reading the article:

  1. In your opinion do you think these assessments would be  helpful with topics like sexual harassment in the workplace or sexism and free speech? Why or why not?
  2. Do you think the author’s  evaluations of the personality assessments were accurate?
  3. Which questions (if any) would you change and why?


Interview Test Prep:  Common Personality Assessments — And How Employers Use Them By Camille Chatterjee,  Forbes

“Once upon a time all you needed to land a new job was a typo-free résumé, some interview smarts, and a few good references. But these days more and more candidates are finding that getting the gig may very well come down to … your innate personality?  Enter personality tests, which ‘look at behavioral traits, and by analyzing them can indicate competency for a job,’ says Paul Gorrell, Ph.D., founding principal of development firm Progressive PGR -0.34% Talent. So if you haven’t had to take a personality assessment yet during an employment search, chances are you soon will.

‘All the hiring tools are good for employee development—but not all the development tools are good for hiring,’ Gorrell cautions. So we decided to assess the assessments. Our findings? Three popular personality tests pass the, well, test—and two actually fail because they say very little about your at-work worthiness.”

The Caliper Profile

What it is: This assessment, which has been around for some 50 years, measures personality traits—from assertiveness to thoroughness—that relate to key skills needed on the job, such as leadership ability and time management. Take empathy, for example. The test screens for ‘a combination of traits that can help you see how well a person reads a room,’ Gorrell explains. ‘Are they flexible or rigid? That’s extremely insightful when hiring someone who has to be responsive to customers or change in an organization.’

Sample question: Candidates are asked to select one statement that best reflects the viewpoint most like theirs in a grouping, and fill in the ‘most’ circle on an answer sheet. From the remaining choices, they then select the one statement that least reflects their viewpoint, filling in the “least” circle.

For example:

A. Sometimes it’s better to lose than to risk hurting someone.

B. I’m generally good at making “small talk.”

C. Established practices and/or standards should always be followed.

D. I sometimes lose control of my workday.

The verdict: Pass! The Caliper Profile is especially strong at discerning what really drives a person, Gorrell says. Unlike other tests, it examines both positive and negative qualities that, together, provide insight into what really motivates a person.

Gallup StrengthsFinder

What it is: This test was created a few decades ago, when research by Gallup (yep, the same folks who conduct all those polls) suggested that personality assessments focused too much on weaknesses.

So let’s say you rank highly in positivity. This might mean you’d be stellar in a position that has you dealing with rejection on a regular basis, such as at a call center or in fund-raising.

Are you an achiever? You could naturally excel at Type-A gigs, like an executive or another high-level manager role.

Sample question: Two statements are presented on each screen of the test.

For instance: “I like to help people,” and “When things get tough and I need things done perfectly, I tend to rely on the strengths of people on my team and don’t try to do it all myself.”

Respondents must pick the statement that best describes them. They can note that it “strongly describes” them, that their connection to both statements is “neutral,” or it falls somewhere in between.

The verdict: Pass! Unlike the Caliper, Gallup looks at strengths that are real indicators of success, rather than simply sussing out people’s negatives and downsides—and the results revolve around that, Gorrell says.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

What it is: Probably one of the most well-known personality assessments around, the Myers-Briggs looks at where you fall in four different dichotomies—sensing or intuition, introversion or extroversion, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving—to come up with 16 different personality types labeled by combos of initials.

Case in point: You may have heard someone describe themselves as an INTJ—an intuition/introversion/thinking/judging type.

Around 80% of new hires at Fortune 500 companies have been given the MBTI in the past decade, and countless other companies use it as part of the actual employee selection process.

Sample question: Questions are framed in an A/B format. For example: When dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options?

The output for these responses is Judging (J) or Perceiving (P), respectively.

The verdict: Fail! Essentially, this assessment is designed to suss out innate preferences. And although it’s an interesting tool for self-discovery (“Me? An extrovert?”), it hasn’t been proven to be valid for job selection, Gorrell says. HR departments who choose employees based on its results could miss out on superstars who might actually excel in a given position, or mistakenly bring on workers that don’t live up to expectations—all because they relied too much on what they thought the MBTI was telling them.

Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire

What it is: This test, which is also referred to as the 16PF, was devised in 1949 by psychologist Raymond Cattell, who identified 16 traits that we all posses in varying degrees, like warmth and tension. The 170 questions on the test differ from those on most other personality assessments (including the ones we’ve covered), in that they ask how you might react to a certain situation on the job, rather than get you to describe your overall personality in some way. Can you be counted on to finish the tasks you start? How well will you handle high-stress situations? The 16PF can give you a good idea.

Sample question: Candidates must answer “true,” “false” or “?” (meaning you don’t understand the statement or aren’t sure) to such phrases as “When I find myself in a boring situation, I usually ‘tune out’ and daydream,” or “When a bit of tact or convincing is needed to get people moving, I’m usually the one who does it.”

The verdict: Pass! It’s a “terrific instrument” for hiring and also for employee development, Gorrell says, thanks to its focus on practical situations rather than general personality traits.

Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory

What it is: This one is a personality test—but it’s meant to be administered by a clinical expert, like a psychologist, in order to assess a patient’s needs therapeutically. In fact, unlike the other tests, which can be taken online or administered by HR pros, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2) can only be given and interpreted by a psychologist. And the only workplace situations in which it might be used effectively is to screen employees at high risk of psychological issues, such as members of the police.

Sample question: Answers are true or false. For example: “I wake up with a headache almost every day,” and “I certainly feel worthless sometimes.”

The verdict: Fail! “The information that it asks about is not business-related,” Gorrell says. “Companies have tried to use it, been taken to court, and lost.”


Category: Culture