by Amrita Dixit, Class of 2019
Chicago Booth students joined local professionals on Friday Nov. 2, for a continuing education event titled, "The Spicy Truth: An Interactive Ethics Symposium" at the McDermott Will & Emery law office in the West Loop. The event was hosted by Entertain2Educate, a professional development company that introduces new ways of learning, and glassceiling.com, a website for career people and their allies who see "through" the ceiling. The Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation at Chicago Booth covered the cost of a handful of tickets valued at $350 each to provide students the opportunity to examine ethics across a range of industries. Other attendees included those who advise individual and family clients in financial or legal decision-making - professionals in law, financial planning, and accounting. Through entertaining play acts, speeches, and networking, the event explored issues such as funding governance, donor intent, lending bias, and ethical impact investing.
"The Spicy Truth" kicked off on the 41st floor of the River Point building, overlooking the Chicago River with views of architectural landmarks such as 333 Wacker and the Merchandise Mart. As event attendees streamed in and took their seats, a professional string trio played in a corner of the conference room and an audiovisual team tested video cameras and mics. In three 50-minute segments, speeches intertwined play acts which covered cases that explored ethical scenarios: A woman was turned down by a bank based on gender. A donor passed away and his heirs didn't agree with how the institution was dispersing his funds. A billionaire considered opening a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) to gain tax incentives with no plan to use the fund for its intended purpose of social good.
Natalia Roose, '20, explained that she attended the event because, "ethics in business is a topic I am personally very passionate about. Also, going through the speaker [list], I realized they were mostly very successful women in business which further convinced me to attend." A few of the keynote speakers at the event included:
Regina Cross, a Vice President at Goldman Sachs Investment Management who works closely with families, foundations, and endowments to provide customized financial advisory solutions
Andie Kramer & Al Harris, well-respected lawyers and co-authors of the 2014 article, "Taking Control: Women, Gender, Stereotypes, and Impression Management"
Lisa Komick, an owner of DMK Restaurant Group who is forming the First Women's Bank of Chicago with the mission of proactively supporting the financial and entreneurial goals of women
Jason Britton, founder of Reflection Analytics which is a financial technology company that uses machine learning to assist investors and advisors in constructing value-based investiment portfolios
Thomas Morgan, the event's playwright and a documentary filmmaker and activist whose films have resulted in social change by funding the first-ever children's center in a refugee camp, changing laws in Congress, winning CNN Hero awards, building orphanages, and bringing disaster relief
For Natalia, one of the most impactful moments of the event was when Regina Cross - a Stanford MBA and VP in Goldman Sachs as noted above - shared an anecdote in which she had experienced bias. She had been pulled onto an all-male, all-white pitch team specifically after the clients expressed that the team wasn't diverse enough. Natalia noted, "She shared with us how she felt frustrated about this situation since her peers weren't reaching out to her because of her skills. This story made me think a lot about how we as Latin American women have faced this situation countless times and how we need to prove ourselves extra in order to demonstrate we are capable, not only a "diverse-minority" asset."
Spanning the speakers' and play's messages was the sense that some of the audience may be advising clients in a legal manner, some for financial reasons, but all should be considering how to support their clients ethically. Much of the audience at the event have been practicing for over 10 to 20 years and commented that this learning opportunity was an exceptionally engaging way to discuss key issues faced by families, funds, and entrepreneurs.