New lecture series at Schulich explores responsible entrepreneurship

The Bata Shoe Foundation has announced the establishment of the Thomas J. Bata Lecture Series on Responsible Capitalism. The series has been created to commemorate the late Thomas J. Bata’s dedication to responsible entrepreneurship and service. In addition, the Schulich School of Business at York University and the Tomas Bata University in Zlin, Czech Republic, will each create a Thomas J. Bata Scholarship.

Bata saw business as a vehicle for bringing economic growth, creating abundance and contributing to human well-being internationally. The lecture series reflects his special attachment to Canada and the Czech Republic, the country of his birth. Known as “Shoemaker to the World”,  Bata built the Bata Shoe Organization into the world’s leading footwear retailer and manufacturer with sales of over 20 billion pairs during his lifetime. He died on Sept. 1 at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. (See the Passings notice in the Sept. 3, 2008 YFile.) His son Thomas G. Bata currently leads the Bata Shoe Organization.

Right: Thomas J. Bata

The Thomas J. Bata Lecture Series on Responsible Capitalism will be a joint collaboration between the Schulich School of Business and the Tomas Bata University. Bata served as chair of the Dean’s International Advisory Council at the Schulich School of Business and was chair of the Board of Governors at Tomas Bata University. Bata received an honourary degree from York University in 1998.

“Thomas Bata was an enthusiastic champion, loyal supporter and friend of the Schulich School,” said Dezsö Horváth, Dean of the Schulich School of Business. “The lecture series and scholarships will honour his two decades of dedication to the Schulich community.”

The lecture series will include an annual lecture on the subject of responsible capitalism, which stems from the long-held belief of the Bata family that businesses should be regarded as a public trust and have a duty to improve the living standards of the communities in which they operate. Historically, in many countries where Bata had operations, employees and their families had access to company-sponsored schools, health care and social facilities. Notwithstanding the evolution of publicly funded facilities, many of those Bata traditions continue.

Each university will host the lecture series funded by the Bata Shoe Foundation in alternate years. The lecturers will be eminent individuals to be selected by the two universities and the text of each annual lecture will be printed in English and Czech and widely distributed.

In addition, both schools will each create a Thomas J. Bata Scholarship. The scholarship will have a value of $20,000 in Canada, and CZK328,000 in the Czech Republic. Each scholarship will be awarded annually to promote the study of issues relating to responsible capitalism. Both awards will be announced each year at the annual lecture series, which will continue for 10 years.

“Thomas Bata saw business as a service to society and as a vehicle for improving the lives of employees and their families, customers and communities,” said Professor Ignác Hoza, CSc, rector of Tomas Bata University. “The lecture series and scholarships will ensure a continued focus on Thomas Bata’s ideals for business as a service to society.”