Event Highlights: Bloomberg Equality Summit | London

Bloomberg Equality Summit (London)
October 18, 2022 

Against the backdrop of rising inequality, we gathered in-person with the most influential, dynamic and inspiring figures in business, finance and entertainment and examined how to create a future based on equitable prosperity.

Click here to view the full program. 

Speakers included:

  • Naza Alakija, Founder & CEO, Sage Foundation
  • Maria Bello, Actress, Producer, Writer
  • Kamal Bhatia, Chief Operating Officer, Principal Asset Management
  • Lee Chambers, Business Psychologist & Founder Essentialise Workplace Wellbeing
  • Eric Collins, CEO & Founding Partner, Impact X
  • Ashley Dartnell, Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director, Boston Consulting Group
  • Luke Ellis, CEO, Man Group
  • Saska Graville, Co-Founder, Hylda
  • Danielle Harmer, Chief People Officer, Aviva
  • Charmaine Hayden, Founding Partner GoodSOIL VC
  • Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason, Author
  • Matt Krentz, Senior Advisor, Boston Consulting Group
  • Sharmadean Reid, Founder & CEO, The Stack World
  • Anne Richards, CEO, Fidelity International
  • Sylvia Serbin, Author
  • Maria Sjödin, Executive Director, Outright Action International
  • Nina Skero, Chief Executive, Cebr
  • Semin Soher Power, Head of Inflation Trading, Bank of Ireland
  • Sharon White, Chairman, John Lewis Partnership
  • Gail Whiteman, Founder & Executive Director, Arctic Basecamp
  • Nadjia Yousif, Managing Director & Partner, Boston Consulting Group


Bloomberg participants:

  • Shartia Brantley, Deputy New York Bureau Chief & Senior Editor, Bloomberg Live
  • Duncan Chater, Managing Director, Bloomberg Media Europe
  • Ruth David, Deputy Bureau Chief & Senior UK Correspondent, Bloomberg
  • Samuel Etienne, Reporter & Producer, Bloomberg Television
  • John Fraher, Senior Executive Editor for ESG & Energy, Bloomberg
  • Paula Fry, EMEA Head of Fixed Income and FX Trading Liquidity, Bloomberg
  • Olivia Konotey-Ahulu, Equality Reporter, Bloomberg
  • Francine Lacqua, Anchor, Bloomberg Television
  • Sonia Meggie, EMEA Diversity & Inclusion Manager, Bloomberg
  • John Micklethwait, Editor-in-Chief, Bloomberg
  • Mark Miller, Global Editor, Bloomberg Live
  • Rakshita Saluja, Executive Editor, Equality, Bloomberg
  • Jacqueline Simmons, Editorial Head, EMEA, Bloomberg
  • Laura Zelenko, Senior Executive Editor, Bloomberg


Event highlights:

In Conversation with Anne Richards  

Anne Richards, CEO, Fidelity International said market disruption is hitting SMEs the hardest, especially with “so many u-turns” on income and corporate taxation. On the global front, she described the mood in Asia as “buoyant,” with most countries dealing with lower inflation levels. “They’re at risk, but there are some positives we can see when not in the eye of the European storm.” On the status of ESG initiatives, Richards said plans are not being ripped up, but with profits squeezed, companies have to make tough choices and put their emphasis on what makes a difference to jobs, communities and survival.


Diversity and Access to Capital

The biggest progress may not amount to much, according to Eric Collins, CEO & Founding Partner, Impact X, who pointed out that attention is focused on the idea of investing in Black women. “There’s been a lot of good lip service. I’m not confident it’s translated into action by asset and fund managers,” he said, wondering if asset allocators are demanding it. The missed opportunities add up to $1 trillion in the U.S. and $75 billion in the UK. “We are underinvesting and that is not being added to the GDP.”

A lot of minority founders were already looking to the U.S. for their next round, according to Sharmadean Reid, Founder & CEO, The Stack World. “It’s a very, very bad look for British capital.” The main reason is cultural; simply more Black people, VCs and high-net Black individuals who can write those angel checks. The U.S. offers instant scale and is a lot less risk-averse. It’s difficult, she said, because she doesn’t want to have to leave her country to find capital, and would like to create more jobs and invest in the local economy.

“It’s really important to know that building from the ground up is really about those networks,” said Charmaine Hayden, Founding Partner GoodSOIL VC, who had previously established a modeling agency, but needed to educate herself on investing. She described calling about 2,000 VCs, and asking many, who were mostly forgiving, lots of questions. In the process, she realized how much people have to offer. “Most of us are going about our roles and thinking we can’t change anything. But we built a village of mentors for the startups that we invest in and everybody plays a role. Those are the things we can all think about, applying human capital, as well as financial capital.”


 New Voices, New Solutions and Tackling Inflation

Two graduates from Bloomberg’s Global New Voices brought their experience and knowledge to a conversation around innovative solutions to tackle inflation.

Nina Skero, Chief Executive, Cebr forecast inflation would peak in the next couple of months, but said it would be years, probably into the late 2020s, before developed markets get back to a 2% target. Energy costs are not the only driver. The situation is stabilizing, “but what is worrying is we are still seeing the underlying inflation pressures accelerate.” In terms of more immediate policy impact, Latin America may have differed in economic policy from the U.S. and Europe, but will see an advantage from having started a year ahead of other central banks.

Semin Soher Power, Head of Inflation Trading, Bank of Ireland said the usual cyclic inflation elements are not the case; this is structural inflation with the impacts of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Changes in deglobalization, supply chain resilience efforts, and green energy transition will all have inflationary impacts going forward. On potentially effective policies,  the EU is incentivizing green investments, as does the Inflation Reduction Act in the U.S. “There are measures being put in place, but I’m afraid with the high commodity prices, inflation did hurt emerging and developing markets.”


Principal Sponsor Spotlight:  Building Economic Resilience Through Financial Inclusion

Resiliency may be the watchword of the day, but despite a pandemic, the world still doesn’t pay enough attention to economic resilience, according to Kamal Bhatia, Chief Operating Officer, Principal Asset Management. His company decided to try and measure it, launching deep research in 42 countries, exploring financial systems, employers and governments, aiming for global inclusion. “The view I have is you have to actively invest in thinking beyond what you read. It’s our way of building an index to understand where the world is going next. It allows us an invisible view into equality and progress in society.”


Climate Justice – Countdown to COP27

What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay there. It goes to the rest of the world, said Gail Whiteman, Founder & Executive Director, Arctic Basecamp. The arctic is a protected area itself, but the effect of warming that has accelerated four-fold and is ramping up climate related events, such as the flooding in Pakistan and Nigeria. “It’s really creating a lot of impact for people and economies.” She brings natural science data into the risk discussion to look at “climate justice, and injustice.” On who is most vulnerable, she noted countries like the Philippines, with a fraction of a percent of global emissions, are among the most vulnerable, as are large parts of Africa, the Caribbean and island states throughout the world.

Whiteman spoke to expectations at COP27 and progress made to combat climate change in the last five to 10 years. “None. It boggles the mind that we can see these impacts happening, and the rich countries around the world are ignoring that, despite whatever commitments they may have made at previous COPs.”


BCG Sponsor Spotlight: Advancing Women in Tech – The Economic Imperative

Nadjia Yousif, Managing Director & Partner, BCG said people fuel the tech revolution. “The more diverse the workforce is in that industry, the better the outcomes for a more diverse population.” Currently, only 20% of those studying for a tech career, and less than 25% of tech leadership is female. “We are not yet at that place where we can have a diverse set of opinions participating in this big wave of the economy.”


In Conversation with Luke Ellis 

Luke Ellis, CEO, Man Group said during his 40 years in London, he has seen “enormous” progress, but said there is still a long way to go.  Inflation exacerbates inequality, “but the solutions also hurt the worst off in society. I’m afraid being rich is a protected species. The only thing that changes that is taxation of the rich, which is difficult to achieve.” During an audience poll on the impact central banks have on equality, Ellis said equality is not their job. “One of the things about central banks is they need to have simple mandates. “The more complicated the mandate, the more it has to go to the hands of politicians, who have to make trade-offs all the time.”


In Conversation With Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason

Raising seven children is a massive undertaking. Overcoming financial, racial and cultural barriers so they could all become classical musicians is a remarkable story told in Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason’s book House of Music. “So many people asked us, ‘Why are you pushing your children into an area where they’re only going to fail, into an area where they don’t belong?’” She spoke about giving up an academic career and losing one’s confidence and identity. When it comes to making a difference, businesses need to understand their unconscious biases, she said, using as an example the many orchestras now using “blind auditions” to increase diversity. 


Transgender Rights – The Global Targeting of Trans Youth

Maria Sjödin, Executive Director, Outright Action International spoke to “conversion practices,” the more apt revision of “conversion therapy,” which suggests there is something that needs to be cured. In healthcare, there is global pushback against trans rights, with countries “establishing a narrative around protecting youth. But the truth is, they are attacking everyone in the non-binary system.” On how competitive athletes should be allowed to identify, “The discussion has been about how we exclude people, instead of how we can make sports as inclusive as possible.”  Her “Call to Action” to business is that it has a big role to play in letting everyone be themselves, because legislation takes too long and is politically motivated.


Building Iran’s Future: The Role of Women

Naza Alakija, Founder & CEO, Sage Foundation left Iran with her family as a child in 1998, when they “had given up hope on what the government would do for the people. Today, we are seeing the results of that.” By law, women are still worth half a man. “Let that resonate for a moment.” She noted that the lack of autonomy extends to things like Mahsa Amini not being able to use her real first name in Iran because it’s Kurdish.

She finds hope in that the massive, country wide protests are led by women and girls. “These protests have become a movement, beautifully unifying women across generations and ethnicities. In one way or another, our rights are being taken away from all of us.”


Menopause and the City

Offering not a man’s, but a neutral perspective, Lee Chambers, Business Psychologist & Founder, Essentialise Workplace Wellbeing pointed out that women already take on so much and when they are emotional, they should not be “judged” as being hormonal. “Menopause directly impacts 51% of the population, but indirectly affects everyone. Someone in your circle is going through significant challenges,” he said, adding that women are not asking for more than a little support and compassion, and businesses are losing talented women by not being supportive.

Saska Graville, Co-Founder, Hylda advised, that women should look after themselves, mainly because there is no single solution. “Go to your GP educated. Find a solution that works for you”. She asked that the media stop using images of exhausted, crying women when running stories on the subject, calling them out for ageism. “We need to reinvent how this stage of a women’s life is viewed.”

Danielle Harmer, Chief People Officer, Aviva added that the ageism issue is why women don’t talk about their menopause issues to their bosses. “It’s saying ‘I’m old’.” Organizations can be inclusive about women experiencing menopause by being allies and educating. “We just have to break the taboo.” She offered details of Aviva’s app, which offers one-to-one counseling. Amidst the push for awareness, she cautioned that some women will still want to be incredibly private about it.


In Conversation with Sharon White

Sharon White, Chairman, John Lewis Partnership announced the launch of a national effort, called the Building Happier Futures program, to encourage the hiring of young people leaving Britain’s care system.  She began with the inspirational story of a vibrant young man, who survived foster care and poverty to become a BBC journalist.  As the former Second Permanent Secretary at HM Treasury, she brought more than one perspective to a conversation around changes to meet current retail challenges, and for those of everyone across the UK. “The way we do the changes can’t be isolated from the realities of the market. You’d have to be a millionaire to not worry about the cost of energy, food, and your mortgage.”


In Conversation with Maria Bello and Sylvia Serbin

Sylvia Serbin, Author described her continuing quest to find and tell the stories of Black women who were heroes in African history. The story of one of the 25 heroines in her book, Queens of Africa and the Heroines of the African Diaspora (translated), written in her native French, is told in the film, The Woman King, which debuted at #1. “History was never written by Black people ourselves,” she said, explaining it was the colonialists who wrote it from their perspective. “Our generation didn’t know what happened before that or how our people contributed to humanity.”

Maria Bello, Actress, Producer, Writer called the film a culmination of her life’s work that began with the Women’s Law Project in Philadelphia in 1989, when she planned to attend law school. White women were making 73 cents to a man’s dollar. Black women less than 50 cents. That is just beginning to change in Hollywood, where she made about 30 cents to the dollar her entire career. “It takes them a bit to catch on.” she said. Profitability remains the driving force there, so a film has to be a predicted money-maker to get funding. “Diversity is the thing that sells now. What’s tanking are the movies based on White American-European male sensibilities.

Bello closed the session by turning her back to the audience so they could read what was printed on her jacket, “You don’t even know who you are.”

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