Will O'Leary (MBA '22) on Environmental Racism and the Role of Corporations

Person holding up a sign that says "Can we breathe now?"
In April 2021, two NYU Stern student clubs, Social Impact and Sustainability Association (SISA) and the Association of Hispanic and Black Business Students (AHBBS), co-hosted an event titled, “What is Environmental Racism?” featuring  NYU Liberal Studies professor Leo Douglas. MBA student William O'Leary (MBA '22) describes the conversation in a recent article published in The Stern Opportunity around environmental racism along with lessons that future business leaders can take with them to protect those impacted by environmental racism.

Excerpt: "Professor Douglas revealed that air, water, and soil pollution is a more prominent global cause of death than road accidents, HIV/AIDS, and tobacco, which put to bed any argument of environmental sustainability as a utopian, distant future imperative. He noted that zip codes are the best predictors of heart and respiratory illnesses and that, not coincidentally, 70% of African Americans live within 30 miles of a coal power plant. Extractive industries (fossil fuels, natural resource mining) and governments that permit corporations to prioritize profits over human life have chosen to inflict this harm on communities of color because it is politically and financially expedient. Very few companies that depend on our finite supply of natural resources have substantially pushed back against decades of deliberate environmental racism by their business partners."

To read the full article, click here.