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YU News

Industry Experts Discuss Stigmas in the Workplace at SymsX Event

(l-r) Dr. Noam Wasserman, Michael Strauss, Moshe Bane, Jonathan Marr, Dr. Erica Brown, Jennifer Prince, Yoel Halbert, Mila Krugman and Miriam Sternberg

On March 21, 2023, the Sy Syms School of Business Student Council and YU’s Shevet Glaubach Center for Career Strategy and Professional Development hosted a thought-provoking event discussing stigmas in the business world. Attendees heard from a panel of industry experts who offered their insights into ethical, religious and racial stigmas that affect business professionals, as well as those that affect women.

The goal of the event was to shed light on the complex landscape of the business world by dispelling stigmas and demystifying some of their realities. The well-attended event was designed to empower students with the knowledge and tools necessary to be successful in their careers and have compassion and understanding for those affected by stigmas.

The first speaker was Moshe Bane, President Emeritus of the Orthodox Union, an adjunct professor at Syms and Senior Partner and Chairman of the Business Restructuring Department at the international law firm Ropes & Gray LLP. Bane discussed religious stigmas and told the audience that although the business world is a melting pot of diverse beliefs, the importance of working together harmoniously is paramount. He said there are many conceptions to how being religious in the business world can affect an employee, and helped identify which of those conceptions are true, which are false, and how to deal with them. Among his suggestions was to create an inclusive environment that respects and values the unique perspectives and contributions that individuals from different faiths bring to the table.

Jennifer Prince, a Syms alumna and Chief Financial Officer of the Baron Property Group, spoke next, discussing female stigmas in the business world. She explained that, despite significant strides in gender equality, women continue to face unique challenges in their professional lives. It is important, she explained, for the students to be educated on how to identify which conceptions are stigmas and which are reality, to “understand the field you’re playing in,” and be provided the tools necessary for women to be successful.

The next speaker was Jonathan Marr, Program Manager at Amazon, who discussed racial stigmas and the realities of what it’s like being a minority in the business world. Marr, who is African-American, set the context by comparing his opportunities to those of his grandmother, conveying a comment he once heard that he was fulfilling “your grandmother’s wildest dream.”  At the same time, “Biases exist,” he told the students, “whether conscious or unconscious,” and continue to impact minority employees’ experiences and their overall workplace dynamics. To truly achieve an equitable business landscape, he encouraged the students to recognize, challenge and overcome their biases, and work together towards dismantling the systemic barriers perpetuating them.

Rounding out the panel discussion was Dr. Erica Brown, Vice Provost for Values and Leadership at YU, who explored ethical stigmas in the business world. She told the students that it is essential to understand that conducting business with integrity and strong moral values is not only possible, but imperative for long-term success. She provided examples of ethical decision-making in real-life situations and offered practical guidance for maintaining one’s principles in a competitive environment.

"It is critical we speak about stigmas that affect the business world's employees and acknowledge the reality of that landscape to both prepare ourselves for it and understand what some of our contemporaries deal with,” said Yoel Halbert ‘23SB, President of the Sy Syms School of Business Student Council/Wilf Campus. “Knowing this information will allow us to prepare and overcome our challenges, excel in our professions, and be allies in the complex business environment. It was an honor to host the SymsX event, and I hope that the attendees learned something new which they can utilize as they prepare to enter the business world."