Key Takeaways from Bloomberg Equality Summit: From Words to Action – Day 1

Bloomberg Equality Summit: Event Highlights – Day 1
March 17, 2021

By Bloomberg Live

Words matter. Actions matter more. As we turn the page on the most tumultuous year in modern history, corporate leaders and institutions are weighing bold and decisive action that reflects new and diverse voices in their ranks. They’re also looking to allies across industries and regions to repair the damage of a pandemic that has exposed even greater inequities across gender, class and race.

Which companies are leading the way to closing gaps in health care distribution, responsible investing, retail, technology, and other areas? How can institutions leverage their platforms to bring about lasting change, and what are the moral and economic costs of failing to do so?

At the fourth annual Bloomberg Equality Summit, we convened leaders at the front lines of industry and policy to showcase these and other topics, as well as the steps they’re taking to move forward. The Bloomberg Equality summit is the preeminent forum for corporate executives, thought leaders and advocates who are working tirelessly to create a more just business climate for all.

Click here to view video of today’s event.

Speakers included:
Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah, Queen of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Douglas M. Brooks, Vice President Advancing Black Equity and Community Engagement, Gilead Sciences
Dawn Butler MP, Member of Parliament, Brent Central UK
Geoffrey Canada, President, Harlem Children’s Zone
Cynthia Choi, Co-Executive Director, Chinese for Affirmative Action
Keith Churchwell MD, President, Yale New Haven Hospital
Carlos Cubia, Senior Vice President, Global Chief Diversity Officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance
Suzanne Ehlers, CEO, Malala Fund
Oren Frank, Co-Founder & CEO, Talkspace
Melinda Gates, Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Marianne Harrison, President & CEO, John Hancock
Saeju Jeong, Co-Founder & CEO, Noom
Al Kelly, Chairman & CEO, Visa
Sal Khan, Founder, Khan Academy
Bo Young Lee, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Uber
Kevin A. Lobo, Chair & CEO, Stryker
Calvin McDonald, CEO, lululemon
Denis Mizne, CEO, Lemann Foundation
Antonio Neri, President & CEO, Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Anne Oxrider, Senior Vice President & Benefits Executive, Bank of America
Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute of India
Tim Ryan, US Chair and Senior Partner, PwC and Co-Founder, CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion
Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer, Facebook
Dr. Repalle Shiva Praveen Kumar, Secretary, Telangana Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions
Victoria Tsai, Founder & CEO, Tatcha
Dr. Jonathan Lee Walton, Dean of the Divinity School, Wake Forest University
Maxine Williams, Chief Diversity Officer, Facebook

Bloomberg moderators included:
Lisa Abramowicz, Anchor, Bloomberg Television
Haslinda Amin, Anchor, Bloomberg Television
Shelly Banjo, New York Bureau Chief
Romaine Bostick, Anchor, Bloomberg Television
Shartia Brantley, Deputy New York Bureau Chief, Bloomberg and Senior Editor, Bloomberg Live
Emily Chang, Anchor, Bloomberg Television
James E. Ellis, Assistant Managing Editor, Bloomberg Businessweek
Tom Giles, Executive Editor, Global Technology, Bloomberg
Peter Grauer, Chairman, Bloomberg LP
Riley Griffin, Health Care Reporter, Bloomberg News
Pamela Hutchinson, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Bloomberg LP
Caroline Hyde, Anchor, Bloomberg Television
Mallika Kapur, Deputy Global Editor, Bloomberg Live and Host, Out of Office
Anne Kawalerski, Global Chief Marketing Office, Bloomberg Media
Cynthia Koons, Senior Reporter, Health Care, Bloomberg
Francine Lacqua, Anchor, Bloomberg Television

Key highlights included:

On equitable vaccine distribution: Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute of India, said that his company’s focus has been on poorer nations. “For us, because we are a privately listed company, I can be as ethical as I want to be with my entire stock – we’re selling at an average price of three dollars a dose for our vaccine to give as much equitable access as we can”, he said. Poonawalla added that the Serum Institute of India has agreements in place for hundreds of millions of doses with COVAX. “Right now we have supplied more than 50% of the doses that COVAX has received in the last 2-3 months,” he said.

On global vaccine collaboration: Keith Churchwell, MD, President, Yale New Haven Hospital, said it’s in the best interest of the United States and the world to vaccinate as many people globally as possible. “We have to reach true herd immunity across the world otherwise the vaccine will continue to mutate and be persistent,” he said. Churchwell went on to say that opportunities to coordinate over the utilization of vaccines is a “smart overall strategy to resolve this pandemic because if we don’t we’ll be back to square one.”

On CEOs Championing Diversity & Inclusion: “Our goal is for PwC to be the most transparent large organization out there,” said Tim Ryan, U.S. Chair and Senior Partner, PwC and Co-Founder, CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion. “We have been heavily focused on recruitment – we are seeing year in, year out record recruitment across different ethnic groups.” Ryan also stated that being a client-facing company, PwC has put a lens to what kind of diversity they have serving their clients – “In our world, the clients you serve is a stature and it is also tied to progression within the organization, so we measure and disclose that too.”

On Safeguarding People’s Health: “We think weight management is the best way to manage overall health,” said Saeju Jeong, Co-Founder & CEO, Noom. Jeong said that “last year 72% of all adult Americans were either overweight or obese” and Covid-19 has increased this figure. Jeong said he believes that healthy lifestyles start at home with healthy habits and Noom’s holistic preventative service, which includes helping to manage stress and anxiety, has been recommended by some doctors to help with this.

On supporting small businesses: Al Kelly, Chairman & CEO, Visa said, “the key to being successful during and after the pandemic is you have to go digital. We have tried to get small businesses up to speed on what that means which is everything from being able to accept contactless payments, as people are increasingly worrying about cash-carrying germs, to making sure that these small businesses have a good website where their customers can order online.” Kelly continued, “we’ve made a commitment globally to digitize 50 million small businesses over the next couple of years. This will allow them to compete with the medium-sized and larger competitors they find themselves up against every day.”

On retaining diverse talent: Kelly said Visa excels at acquiring Black talent, but not as well at retaining it. “I have a belief that people join companies, and they leave leaders,” he says.

On the need to listen before taking action: “We have to speak up and we have to be visible not only with what we say but with our actions. My commitment has been that we’re going to take action, but first we have to listen. We have to really understand and educate ourselves about the problem,” said Antonio Neri, President & CEO, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, in explaining the approach they are taking towards diversity and inclusion at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which is a sponsor of the Bloomberg Equality Summit.

On the impact of the pandemic on the world order: Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah, Queen of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, said, “The moment for radical change has arrived. Clearly the system is not working.” She continued, “We need a change in mindset and a change in metrics. For the longest time, governments have viewed GDP as the holy grail. But it really doesn’t paint a holistic picture. GDP tells you about consumption, not well-being, it tells you about production, not pollution, it tells you how governments spend and invest, but it doesn’t tell you about the state of our planet. So we need something that actually measures quality of life.”

On improving the quality of education in India’s government schools: “Talent is not exclusive. Everybody is unique, everybody has talent and everybody has the right to have a better opportunity” is how Dr. Repalle Shiva Praveen Kumar, Secretary, Telangana Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions, explained the thinking behind boarding schools that educate some of the poorest children in India.

On how gender equality is crucial for a recovery: Melinda Gates, Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said, “If we’re going to get a full recovery and a swift recovery, we’ve got to address all of the issues that are facing women. We are in a crisis for women and people of color in this country.” Gates continued, “We’ve seen a lot of work derailed. Women in the last 30 years were coming out of poverty as a whole and now we’re seeing a huge setback in that arena. We’re seeing a setback in the labor force. The number of women who’ve stepped back from the labor force in the United States, two-thirds of the jobs lost in South Africa were women’s jobs, so I think we’re in a moment of crisis.”

On the DE&I penny dropping in corporate America: Carlos Cubia, Senior Vice President, Global Chief Diversity Officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance, explained how 2020 was a game-changer, saying, “The racial equity movement opened the minds of those who used to think that diversity, equity and inclusion were separate from corporate goals, that DE&I was just a nice thing to do. It actually opened the minds of those who thought that saying we believe in diversity was enough, while doing nothing to truly foster a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion.” Cubia went on, “I don’t think anyone would classify corporate America as woke. Corporate America has always needed a nudge when it comes to DE&I. In 2020, it wasn’t just a nudge, it was a shove. After last year, corporate America learned that DE&I not only impacts the business, it impacts reputation.” Walgreens Boots Alliance is a sponsor of the Equality Summit.

On self-reflection: Calvin McDonald, CEO, lululemon, said he went on a personal journey to learn how to be confident in conversations around diversity. “These are difficult conversations and every individual owns their own journey to learn,” he said. “It’s not someone else’s responsibility to teach you, you have to teach yourself.”

On in-person versus remote learning: “If I had to pick between an amazing in-person teacher and the fanciest online technology, distance-learning, AI, I would pick the amazing in-person teacher, any day of the week,” said Sal Khan, Founder & CEO, Khan Academy. “We have young people around the world who might not have access to school at all,” he said, adding that for young people without access to a physical school setting, resources like Khan Academy “try to raise the floor for a lot of these kids.”

On the affordability of staying connected: “We find that lots of our families are making decisions about trying to keep devices on or paying the electric bill or for food,” Geoffrey Canada, President, Harlem Children’s Zone, said about the New York families his nonprofit serves. “We need to make sure there is free access, and that devices are available to all our young people, and it’s not just a one-time thing.”

On hate speech on social media platforms: Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer, Facebook said her company stands against hate. “Sometimes people believe we want hate on our platform because people click on it; that’s absurd,” she said, emphasizing that hate speech is bad for business. “Now finding it and taking it down on a service of our size is obviously the challenge, and even defining it can be very tricky.”

On male-dominated Silicon Valley: “If you have a certain group of people who are your seed-group, and you’re not deliberate about understanding the value and the need for more diversity, you’re going to get bigger but you’re just going to expand against the same pattern that you started with,” Maxine Williams, Chief Diversity Officer, Facebook, said about addressing the pervasive ‘bro culture’ in tech. “Inequity did not come about organically, so to change that, to counteract that, you have to be deliberate as well.”

This Bloomberg Equality Summit  was Proudly Sponsored By


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