Beyond Pulling Donations

Many business leaders have told me they are deeply concerned about incidents of harassment against Jewish students that have taken place at and around universities like Columbia and appear to be increasing.

Inside corner offices, there has been a lot of hand-wringing about the most blatant examples, like antisemitic signs and chants or the assault of an Israeli student. But there has been little action from corporations, which have a synergistic relationship with the schools where they recruit employees.

Some executives are privately pondering what they can do. The most common course of action so far has been to pull back on individual donations. The New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, for example, said this week that he was “no longer comfortable supporting Columbia University.”

But businesses have other levers that affect universities, and some of those levers would undoubtedly put more pressure on universities to take action against antisemitism.

Here’s one out-of-the-box thought experiment: Most businesses scrutinize their vendors quite carefully and maintain approved lists of vendors whose policies align with their own. Companies could scrutinize universities, a main source of their talent, as they would any other vendor. They could tell universities that they won’t hire their students unless the schools take decisive action to stem antisemitism.

After all, no company in this day and age would use an executive search firm with employees who openly engaged in antisemitism.

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