Call it prescient.
Among her countless achievements, Erika H. James, dean of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, co-authored a book titled Leading Under Pressure: From Surviving to Thriving Before, During, and After a Crisis.
The book didn’t come out this month, or on July 1 when James began her tenure as the first-ever woman and African American to helm the world’s oldest collegiate school of business: It was published a decade ago, in 2010.
It’s no exaggeration, then, to say that James, quite literally, wrote the book on navigating obstacles—and it’s particularly fitting that, for her first public event as Wharton dean, the acclaimed researcher and academic leader is casting a spotlight on business through the lens of racial justice.
Her three-part lecture series, dubbed Beyond Business, will debut on October 21 at 12:30pm for free on The Wharton School’s LinkedIn page and, according to Wharton, shine a light on how systemic racism impacts business and society as a whole, and ways it can be confronted.
“Through this lecture series, Wharton is making a statement on the importance of prioritizing race and inclusion in America and asking firms to consider what it will take to place the issue at the top of the corporate agenda,” James said in a statement.
The Citizen has always been committed to chronicling the barriers facing Black entrepreneurs, and spotlighting people and organizations who are working to overcome and eradicate obstacles to funding, networking and mentorship—leaders like Josh Kopelman, founding partner of First Round Capital, who will join James for part one of the series. James will also be joined by Wharton alumnus Chris Bennett, founder of Wonderschool. The second half of the session will feature a Q&A with the live LinkedIn audience, moderated by Wharton Vice Dean of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Karl Ulrich.
“Through this lecture series, Wharton is making a statement on the importance of prioritizing race and inclusion in America and asking firms to consider what it will take to place the issue at the top of the corporate agenda,” James said.
“I’m delighted such distinguished panelists will be joining me for the first session as we begin this conversation that will inspire others to make long-term change,” James said.
Additional sessions will be held in November, when the topic will be “Race and Corporate Power,” and in December, with a focus on “Race and the Selling of America.”
The program is part of the tradition of Wharton’s Tarnopol Dean’s Lecture Series, named for the late Wharton alumnus Michael L. Tarnopol, former vice chairman of the international banking division of Bear, Stearns & Co.