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Business critic Anand Giridharadas has a message for newly graduating MBAs

May 27, 2020, 3:00 PM UTC

Author and business critic Anand Giridharadas has a simple message for this year’s business school graduates: Forget everything you just learned.

Giridharadas, a former McKinsey consultant, recorded a commencement speech of sorts for all newly minted MBAs, urging them to dump pro-market philosophies and “put people above profits.” It’s the same theme he outlined in his 2018 bestselling book, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, but now with a COVID-19 twist.

“Thanks to these business school doctrines, we ended up not only with limited personal protective equipment for doctors and nurses in the worst crisis since World War II, but also without the capacity to make that stuff quickly once we became aware of the shortage,” says Giridharadas in the just-released address, airing tonight on VICE.

An Ohio native who graduated from the University of Michigan and studied at Harvard before joining McKinsey, Giridharadas is now an editor-at-large for Time and a visiting scholar at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. Strategies taught in business school like maximizing shareholder value, forming just-in-time supply chains, and outsourcing low-end work have led to massive income inequality and an inability to handle crises like the coronavirus pandemic, he argues.

“You will need to desert the tools responsible for our plight,” he urges business school grads. “You will need to forget the frameworks that have been drilled into you at business school in the hope that you would sustain for another generation the habit of running corporations in ways that run people and communities and the planet into the ground.”

Watch the full address in the video above.

(Correction, May 27, 2020: An earlier version of this story misstated where Giridharadas graduated from. He graduated from the University of Michigan and later studied at Harvard.)

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