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Why Give | Impact stories

Peter P. Dhillon Centre for Business Ethics: Where excellence meets ethics

Peter Dhillon’s generous support and vision for responsible leadership laid the groundwork for UBC Sauder’s Peter P. Dhillon Centre for Business Ethics.

Established in 2015 with the $7.5 million partnership between UBC Sauder and Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc. Chairman Peter Dhillon, the Peter P. Dhillon Centre for Business Ethics promotes responsible business leadership, infusing ethics throughout every facet of the UBC Sauder experience: academics, engagement with the business community, student initiatives and research.

“The hope is that students come out of their business programs at UBC Sauder as better people and better citizens,” says Dhillon.

Enriching academics

“We’re training tomorrow’s business leaders,” says the Dhillon Centre Academic Director Professor Kate White. “Getting students to think about socially responsible business enables them to make a difference in the world.”

In fall 2018, the first cohort of MBA students gained access to a new course called “Impact Investing” developed with the help of the Centre. In spring 2019, undergraduate students were able to take a new course called “Philanthropy in Review” while professionals pursuing Executive Education were able to take “Behavioural Insights for Social Good: Nudging for Social, Environmental and Organizational Impact,” each of which was developed with the Dhillon Centre.

“As students, we feel like we should do something that creates social change. It’s just that we don’t know how. Having social responsibility resonate throughout what we learn in class helps us take action once we graduate,” says BCom student Amar Heer.

In essence, the Centre’s many-pronged approach gives students the experience and knowledge to turn their goals into action.

“You change from being an individual with passion to someone who has a clear plan and the confidence to tackle big problems,” says BCom alumnus Bruno Lam, now working as a Research and Product Leader for UBC Sauder’s Social Innovation and Impact Investing (S3i).

Supporting student initiatives

Future-focused students across the board at UBC Sauder are engaging in values-based activities rooted in sustainability, social enterprise, responsible investing and philanthropy. The Dhillon Centre supports them in those endeavours.

“Through my classes I learn how to make better decisions,” says BCom student Neekita Bhatia. “But through my extracurricular activities I get to learn what my passions are and what drives me to actually make an impact.”

Among these extracurricular opportunities are talks given by philanthropically minded business leaders such as Abdul Ladha, founder of the Spark Global Philanthropic Foundation, who shared his expertise with students. An extracurricular case competition put on by the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Society served as a values-led learning opportunity for UBC Sauder students.

“We learned a lot about how companies can be more responsible,” says BCom student Adrienne Ellis. “That’s something I can bring with me throughout my career.”

Engaging with the broader community

To engage with the public on these critical issues, the Dhillon Centre promotes dialogue by hosting events that welcome the community and encouraging its team to participate in those held elsewhere. The Centre organized 16 events for almost 400 attendees and presented at 30+ industry events that reached live audiences of over 1,400 people.

Among these were “Millennials, Wealth Transition and Shifting Values” at the Tri-Cities Foundations Power of Philanthropy event and “Women’s Advancement in the Workplace: Barriers and Opportunities” at the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade Women’s Leadership Circle.

Not only does this community engagement benefit the public, it also serves as a model for UBC Sauder students.

“What UBC Sauder does well through the Dhillon Centre is to take that passion and enable us to craft careers that will ultimately give back,” says Bruno Lam.

“Right now I’m working with social ventures to help them grow and make a substantial impact.”

Coordinating scholarly research

How do ethical practices influence business disciplines? The Dhillon Centre is coordinating academic research at UBC Sauder that poses that very question. The ultimate aim is that learnings will have wide-reaching impact.

“The hope is that students come out of their business programs as better people, better citizens and that UBC Sauder over time becomes the world leader on business ethics,” says Dhillon.