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Executive Board Statement

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Society for Business Ethics Statement Regarding President Trump’s January 27, 2017 Executive Order: Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States


The Society for Business Ethics is an academic association dedicated to the advancement of scholarship in business ethics from a range of perspectives. We advocate and subscribe to the principle of open discourse, which contributes to insights that are pertinent to scholarship and practice. And we proudly welcome contributors from nations around the world because their voices enrich the rigor and relevance of the field of business ethics.

The Society for Business Ethics does not typically espouse positions on the range of important political, social, or economic topics that are not immediately relevant to our purpose as an academic association. Establishing certain positions as the Society’s orthodoxy risks alienating or excluding part of the range of scholars who give our Society its vibrancy. Political advocacy and commentary is the prerogative of our members, and it is our purpose to offer them a forum in which to speak, but not to speak on their behalf.

However, the recent executive order barring entry to the United States of America from seven predominantly Muslim nations is relevant to our purpose, because it excludes scholars from participating in our annual meeting, and therefore from one of the fora in which they advance business ethics scholarship. We grieve and oppose this exclusion, determined as it is by nothing more than a person’s identity as a citizen, and not by their own actions. Our annual meeting will be the lesser for the absence of our colleagues who may be impacted by the executive order.

The Society stands in solidarity with, and offers its support to, our members affected by this order. We are responding in accordance with our mission and values.

First, notwithstanding a petition to move our annual meeting out of the United States, we have decided to hold the meeting as scheduled in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. While that may prevent some scholars from attending (either because of the immediate effect of the executive order or its lasting effects in August), it will enable other scholars to attend who, if they were to leave the United States for our meeting, would be unable to return.

Second, we welcome proposals for special sessions, panels, or workshops on topics in business ethics that address current issues in e.g., nationalism, protectionism, and populism; corporate political participation; protest and resistance; deregulation; and inequality. As always, a range of theoretical and methodological perspectives is welcome, at various levels of analysis, as are participants from the full range of personal convictions and identities.

Third, we are working to recruit a plenary speaker or panel of experts to address some of the topics at hand.
While there can be no fully satisfactory response to the situation in which we now find ourselves, the Board of the Society believes that we must respond. Accordingly, we are working to maintain and even extend SBE’s role as a forum for scholars who are addressing both timeless theories and our era’s pressing problems in business ethics. As we do so, we welcome your input.

The Society for Business Ethics Board of Directors:
Bruce Barry
Dawn Elm
Heather Elms
Jeff Frooman
Nien-hê Hsieh
Jeffrey Moriarty
Jeffery Smith