Event Highlights: Bloomberg Equality Summit – October 26, 2021 – Day 1

Event Highlights – Day 1
Bloomberg Equality Summit
Modern Leaders & Allies

By Bloomberg Live

As the next generation of employees enters the workplace, bringing their own voices and views to issues around workplace equality, we convene global leaders on the front lines of health care, education, wealth, technology, government and business to talk about the next phase of oversight and accountability. Who are the agitators charting a new and faster course to achieve equity and change across business and society? What tough discussions are necessary to create sustainable change in a pandemic-led recovery? We’ll explore these and other pressing issues as we get in front of activist investors, global CEOs and policymakers facing unprecedented challenges on multiple fronts, from labor shortages to supply-chain bottlenecks and return-to-office dilemmas.

Click here to view video of Session 1, Bloomberg Rainbow+ Forum.
Click here to view video of Session 2, Modern Leaders & Allies.

Speakers included:

  • Ramsey Baker, Principal, Boston Consulting Group
  • Dame Inga Beale, Chair, Mediclinic International
  • Barbara Ann Bernard, Founder & CIO, Wincrest Capital
  • Michael R. Bloomberg, Founder, Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, 108th Mayor of New York City
  • Suzanne Donohoe, Partner & Global Head of Strategic Growth; Co-Chair, Inclusion and Diversity Council, KKR
  • Paul Donovan, Chief Economist, UBS Global Wealth Management
  • Tariq Fancy, Founder & CEO, The Rumie Initiative
  • Kathryn Finney, Founder & CEO, Genius Guild, General Partner, The Greenhouse Fund
  • Jim Fitterling, Chairman & CEO, Dow
  • Beth Ford, President and CEO, Land O’Lakes
  • Rebecca Hall, Writer, Director, Producer and Actress
  • Blair Halliday, Head of UK, Gemini
  • Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder, LinkedIn, Partner, Greylock
  • Patrick J. Kennedy, Former U.S. Representative, Founder, The Kennedy Forum
  • Asma Khan, Chef & Owner, Darjeeling Express
  • Karin Kimbrough, Ph.D, Chief Economist, LinkedIn
  • Matt Krentz, Managing Director & Senior Partner, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion and Leadership, Chair, Boston Consulting Group
  • Pippa Lamb, Partner, Sweet Capital
  • Nadiem Makarim, Minister of Education, Culture, Research and Technology, Indonesia
  • Raymond J. McGuire, Former NYC Mayoral Candidate, Former Vice Chairman, Citigroup
  • Deidra R. McIntyre, Founding Admin, Black People & Cryptocurrency
  • Rhonda Morris, Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer, Chevron
  • Laura W. Murphy, President, Laura Murphy & Associates LLC
  • Kirsten Xu Olesen, Project Leader, Boston Consulting Group
  • Salil Parekh, CEO & Managing Director, Infosys
  • Verdun Perry, Global Head, Blackstone Strategic Partners
  • Henri Pierre-Jacques, Managing Partner, Harlem Capital
  • Christopher Rauh, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of Cambridge
  • Maria Ressa, Co-founder & CEO, Rappler, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
  • Suki Sandhu OBE, Founder & CEO, Audeliss and INvolve
  • Sonal Shah, President, The Asian American Foundation
  • Sebastian Siemiatkowski, CEO, Klarna
  • António Simões, CEO of Santander Spain & Regional Head of Europe Banco Santander
  • Shundrawn Thomas, President, Northern Trust Asset Management
  • Elliot Vaughn, Managing Director & Senior Partner, Global Leader of Pride@BCG, Boston Consulting Group
  • Rosalia Vazquez-Alvarez, Econometrician & Wage Specialist, International Labour Organization
  • Shawn Wilkinson, Founder & Chief Strategy Officer, Storj
  • Ryan Williams, Co-founder & CEO, Cadre
  • Jerry Yang, Founder, AME Cloud Ventures, Co-founder, Yahoo!
  • Paco Ybarra, CEO, Institutional Clients Group, Citigroup

Bloomberg Participants:

Haslinda Amin, Anchor, Bloomberg Television
Sonali Basak, Financial Correspondent, Bloomberg
Shartia Brantley, Deputy New York Bureau Chief, Senior Editor, Bloomberg Live
Lizzy Burden, U.K. Economy Reporter, Bloomberg News
Emily Chang, Anchor, Bloomberg Television
Manus Cranny, Anchor, Bloomberg Television
Ruth David, Deputy London Bureau Chief and Senior Reporter, Bloomberg
Scarlet Fu, Anchor, Bloomberg Quicktake
Caroline Hyde, Senior Executive Editor, Bloomberg
Stacy-Marie Ishmael, Managing Editor, Bloomberg
Mallika Kapur, Deputy Global Editor, Bloomberg Live
Cynthia Koons, Senior Reporter, Health Care, Bloomberg
Madeleine Lim, Senior Executive Editor, Bloomberg
Carol Massar, Anchor, Bloomberg Businessweek TV and Radio
John Micklethwait, Editor-in-Chief, Bloomberg
Mark Miller, Global Editor, Bloomberg Live
Sasha Qadri, Senior Programming Director, Bloomberg
Karen Toulon, Equality Chief Correspondent, Host, Black in Focus, Bloomberg


Event Highlights:

In an introduction, Michael R. Bloomberg, Founder, Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, 108th Mayor of New York City, said the  whole of society is better when everyone is treated equally, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“That means it’s up to all of us to create a more equitable and inclusive future for members of the LGBTQ+ community. I’ve been proud to help, from supporting marriage equality in New York and other states to investing in diversity and inclusion, and genuine efforts here at Bloomberg.”

Speakers brought to the table a broad range of personal identity perspectives.

LGBTQ+ Diversity in Management

This panel spoke to collecting data, hiring practices, support for diverse groups within and externally, and the potential rise to the boardroom. Jim Fitterling, Chairman & CEO, Dow, stated that more than 50 percent of their employees are now part of employee resource groups (ERGs), based on demographic factors, up from 15 percent, with those groups being used to be more intentional about hiring. “I would say, in the case of LGBTQ+, it’s just making people aware that we are open for business and that we are hiring,” he said. 

Being supportive and fostering an inclusive culture is far more important than collecting data, according to Beth Ford, President and CEO, Land O’Lakes, who said she encourages employees to not change for anyone, but to be their best self. Management has to “give everyone the room to show up as their authentic self and hire the full person.”

Fitterling wholeheartedly agreed, saying, “I think culture is everything in this. Your biggest job every day is to influence.”

“You have to have a conversation along with the data,” said Dame Inga Beale, Chair, Mediclinic International. On hiring, LGBTQ+ is still not a priority, as opposed to race and gender, she said. “We need to focus on it all.” 

Ford added that the role of a CEO is much broader now, and they need to weigh in publicly on diversity issues when their voice is helpful toward a solution.

A Conversation: The CEO Perspective

Data indicates about a third of LGBTQ+ workers have not come out. “They’re scared,” said Dame Inga Beale, Chair, Mediclinic International. “There is still fear of all sorts of repercussions. We need to offer more courage, no matter how inclusive a company is.”

António Simões, CEO of Santander Spain & Regional Head of Europe Banco Santander, spoke of his “journey to authenticity” that included coming out at Goldman Sachs by a slip-of-the-tongue. He wanted to be a CEO, not the gay CEO, but now realizes he is a better leader for being authentic.

For Paco Ybarra, CEO, Institutional Clients Group, Citigroup, it’s about creating normality around diversity, creating an environment where there are no obstacles to prevent people revealing who they are. Yet, there remain many who choose not to come out because they don’t want to be defined by that identity.

Does LBGTQ+ mean having to work harder? For 10 years, Beale said, she struggled with simply being a woman in a man’s world. She has, and expects to always feel different.

Simões, whose mantra is “challenging wrong behaviors,” found success initially by presenting himself simply as a white male, and now finds being authentic an advantage.

Transformation of the Consumer Base

Paul Donovan, Chief Economist, UBS Global Wealth Management answered compelling questions about diversity and the bottom line, indicators of corporate diversity and Gen Z.

The data is definitely showing that inclusivity breeds success, according to Donovan.

It’s easy to fall back into a comfort zone of unconscious bias, especially when hiring, he said. 

“The single most important thing, if you’re running a business, is to challenge your unconscious bias, and it takes a lot of effort to get it right,” he said. “I think global CEOs generally get this, that it’s blindingly obvious that an inclusive workforce means you’re hiring the very best possible people, and diversity means, you’re considering the problems, the challenges of the big structural upheavals we’re facing from all sorts of different angles.” 

Add to that a new generation gap with its greatly differing attitudes toward self-identification, which is challenging business policies.  

Diversity of thought – the culture – not just numbers, indicates a company has achieved real inclusivity, when “the company stands by its principles even if it’s going to lose business in the long term,” Donovan said, adding that “10 percent of the global population is on the ‘queer spectrum,’ and these are potential customers. From a purely business perspective, they cannot be ignored.”

Wall Street and the Talent Equation

Three business leaders spoke to the sense of hiring urgency in the financial workplace versus finding the right talent, as well as fostering career growth.

Suzanne Donohoe, Partner & Global Head of Strategic Growth; Co-Chair, Inclusion and Diversity Council, KKR, called reaching diversity goals a “multi-year journey” that requires creative thinking and making the workplace attractive to everyone. 

Increasing involvement in hiring decisions, going beyond human resources, is essential, no matter if it slows the process, said Shundrawn Thomas, President, Northern Trust Asset Management. Hiring success comes after the fact by fostering inclusion and sponsorships that go beyond mentoring, according to Thomas. “It’s about allies. Who’s backing you? Access to opportunity is not equitable in the world we know today. Sponsors are people who know who you are and what you can contribute.”

Verdun Perry, Global Head, Blackstone Strategic Partners, echoed the need to continue to coach and train, adding that there is plenty of raw talent out there. “It’s partly a demand issue, partly an exposure issue,” Perry said, suggesting widening the funnel of university recruitment. “We have to do a better job of telling our story to attract more talent.”

Closing the Wealth Gap Through Alternative Investments

Cryptocurrency and the like is more than a trend. It can close the wealth gap, according to three experts. When it comes to the potential for a currency evolution, Deidra R. McIntyre, Founding Admin, Black People & Cryptocurrency, used the analogy of email making postage stamps obsolete, and related how rural Kenyans are entering into the financial world by converting solar power to currency.

Use trusted venues, advised Blair Halliday, Head of UK, Gemini. Check track records and regulatory approvals and oversight. In the UK, there’s a list available of vetted sites. Not so in the U.S.

Shawn Wilkinson, Founder & Chief Strategy Officer, Storj, started mining Bitcoin as a broke college student. Without investment funds, it bridged the gap for him. “It really is a new asset class,” he said, calling it the next step in the evolution, akin to using pay apps instead of writing checks. He spoke about innovative moves, including selling tokens to raise seed money and renting out unused digital storage space.

A special live session of Bloomberg Live’s Out of Office podcast welcomed Sebastian Siemiatkowski, CEO of Klarna, who spoke on a variety of topics, including immigration, family and his company’s financial model that he believes is the future. Insight comes from his family’s immigration from Poland to Sweden in search of a better life, and their financial struggles. Moving away from the antiquated, revolving credit system is needed, he said. “The future is not about banning credit cards, but a different product that will smooth out cash flow at a reasonable cost.”

In a conversation with Reid Hoffman, Co-founder, LinkedIn, Partner, Greylock, ethics took center stage. With the launch of a huge, new seed fund is a goal to reach a diverse set of entrepreneurs. Hoffman is outspoken about diversity and being part of the responsibility of business leaders to be proactive, not take a neutral stance on morality and see beyond the bottom line, saying, “You can’t allow the crazies to set the rules. Ethics are not always a walk in the park. It’s okay to say, ‘Great, the white supremacists won’t buy my sneakers’.”

On news of changes at Facebook, Hoffman, one of its early investors, and a sometimes critic of Mark Zuckerberg, defended Zuckerberg’s ability to continue to run the company, calling him, “smart and a learner.”

In a conversation with Nobel Prize winner Maria Ressa, Co-founder & CEO, Rappler, Ressa said she was still stunned by the announcement and researched to discover the last time a journalist won was in 1936, and he was in a Nazi concentration camp at the time. Freedom of the press and expression is under threat, journalism lost its gatekeeping power to tech and its algorithms, and bias against journalists has turned the world upside down, Ressa said. 

Her Nobel prize came from reporting about the war on drugs in her country, the Philippines, which she called a war against the people. She spoke about the 10 politically-motivated arrest warrants she received in the last two years and potentially being thrown in jail. “We have to fight for our rights,” Ressa said. “This is the [Nobel] committee saying our democracy is only as good as the journalists and the people who demand their rights.”

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