Ethics PanelThree guests with considerable experience in the social responsibility of business visited recently with students in the combined MBA and undergraduate capstone class “Strategic leadership through the eyes of the C-Suite,” and engaged students in some thought-provoking conversations.

Stephen Black is a social entrepreneur who created Impact Alabama ten years ago to fill gaps in how Alabama addresses the needs of young people in several areas, including eye screening for young children not yet of school age, teaching public speaking skills to high school students and preparing high school students for advanced placement exams. Black is also Director of the Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility at the University of Alabama, which prepares students to serve as effective, engaged and ethical citizens.

Mary Kay Culpepper was formerly the editor-in-chief for nearly a decade of Cooking Light magazine, the largest food magazine in the world, and today writes and speaks on the subject of creativity in business and other settings.

Ann Florie is executive director of Leadership Birmingham, a program that seeks to prepare and encourage its graduates to engage in greater individual and group action in order to contribute to the betterment of our community. Collat School of Business Dean Dr. Eric Jack is a member of Leadership Birmingham, Class of 2014.

Topics discussed ranged from the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decision on whether a business and its owners have religious freedoms protected by the Constitution; whether people engage in community service just to feel good about themselves (and if so, is this bad); whether “Millennials” (those reaching young adulthood about 2000) are seeking to have more meaning in their professional lives than did older generations; and the ethics of gift-giving in business, in the United States and abroad.

“Strategic leadership through the eyes of the C-Suite” is taught by Collat School of Business professor Stephen Yoder. Yoder noted that he includes discussions like this in his courses so as to raise students’ consciousnesses about their future roles in not only business but in a civil society.