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Press Release
CEOs & Other Business Executives Discuss Tackling Economic Equality
03 March, 2021

Conversations with…

CEO of PayPal—

CEO of Ben & Jerry’s—

Chief Brand Officer of Procter & Gamble—

and more…

Leading CEOs and business executives from across American industry spoke yesterday about how their organizations are tackling economic inequality, offering actionable insights for other business leaders on how to drive change in their own communities.

Hosted by The Conference Board, each day of the Building a More Civil & Just Society Conference showcases how businesses are taking on one of America’s three major social inequities: economics (day one), health (day two), and race (day three). Highlights from yesterday’s conversations include:

Keynote Interview: PayPal CEO Dan Schulman on Upgrading Capitalism

Watch the interview

Long before 2020’s trauma and upheaval, PayPal CEO Dan Schulman was already on a mission to upgrade capitalism, seeing the financial health of employees as essential for the health of their organizations, for our economy, and for our society. This conversation detailed how that perspective was translated into concrete, measurable actions at PayPal; the results they have seen; and the steps other leaders can take to prioritize the financial health of their employees.

  • Dan Schulman, Chief Executive Officer, PayPal
  • Moderator: Steve Odland, President & CEO, The Conference Board

Key Quotes:

  • “I’m a big believer in capitalism. It’s the best system there is for fostering innovation. It has led to many decades of the American dream. But I would say like anything—products or services—that we put out, companies need to upgrade.”—Dan Schulman (@ 1:26)
  • “The number one constituency I serve is my employees. The single biggest competitive advantage that any company has is the skillset and the passion of their employees.”— Dan Schulman (@ 5:50)
  • “Standing up for inclusion, assuring that nobody is discriminated against, that to me doesn’t seem to be a left issue or a right issue, a red or a blue issue. It seems to be a red, white, and blue issue in my mind. These are American values. That’s what our country is founded on. CEOs shouldn’t get involved necessarily in politics, but they should be involved in standing up for the values and their mission as a company.”—Dan Schulman (@ 10:17)

Interview: Ben and Jerry’s CEO Matthew McCarthy on Racial Equity, “Linked Prosperity” and Activism

Watch the interview

Ben & Jerry’s CEO Matthew McCarthy has been clear that “business should be held accountable to setting very specific targets” around “racial equity in their organizations.” This conversation explored Ben and Jerry’s racial equity journey and how they have held themselves accountable; the company’s founding principle of “linked prosperity” and how capitalism should evolve; and how other business leaders can start taking a more active stand on social issues, to the benefit of society and the bottom line.  

  • Matthew McCarthy, Chief Executive Officer, Ben & Jerry’s   
  • Moderator: Chiqui Cartagena, Chief Marketing Officer and Center Leader, Marketing & Communications, The Conference Board 

Key Quotes:

  • “We own the outputs of the work that we do in business and in lots of organizations. We don’t measure how great the ice cream is by the ingredients that go into the pint; you really measure what comes out. If on the other side, the “better off” metrics are largely accruing to white people, then you have to ask yourself, ‘That’s inconsistent. What are we doing about that?’”— Matthew McCarthy (@ 9:46)
  • “Tackle real social justice and climate justice issues. Do it in a way that’s consistent with your values. Do it in a way that’s consistent with the values of your organization and your people. But if you’re not tackling a real problem and a real issue, you’re probably not really making a big difference. You’re probably missing an opportunity to actually put the power of your business into action.”— Matthew McCarthy (@ 21:04)
  • “It’s one thing to have values and to write them down on a plaque that people see when they walk in your office. That’s fine. Values in action is how businesses as collections of people do things that actually matter beyond just selling stuff and making money.”— Matthew McCarthy (@ 22:08)

Panel: The Corporation's Role in Driving Urban Economic Opportunity

Watch the panel

Leadership at the National Urban League, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo shared how corporations can drive economic opportunity through greater access to housing, capital for small businesses, employment, and more.

  • Marc Morial, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Urban League
  • Gigi Dixon, SVP and Head of External Relations, Wells Fargo
  • Sekou Kaalund, Managing Director, JPMorgan Chase
  • Moderator: Dana Peterson, Chief Economist, The Conference Board 

Key Quotes:

  • “In the George Floyd era, we’ve seen a number of commitments. I want to be able to come back in two years or four years, look at those commitments, and say those commitments have been met. Be authentic and serious about the commitments you make. Continue to invest in urban communities.” — Marc Morial (@ 8:02)
  • “The pandemic has really exaggerated the economic issues that directly and disproportionately affect minority and low- to moderate-income communities. Things like pay equity, housing, and small business—the survival and resiliency of small businesses, and healthcare disparities.” — Gigi Dixon (@ 9:33)
  • “Making the economy work for more people is a moral obligation and a business imperative.” — Sekou Kaalund (@ 12:52)
  • “Our focus on environment, our focus on creating greater equity and inclusion, and providing more access to capital: it’s about making the economy stronger, making our community stronger, making our clients stronger, and also creating companies—or maintaining companies at least—where the talent of the future wants to work. Because they see we’re focused on not just shareholder value, but how we contribute and our role in society for truly impacting the communities we serve.” —Sekou Kaalund (@27:27)
  • “When our communities are thriving, then our companies can thrive and grow.” — Gigi Dixon (@ 28:27)

Interview: Brands and Companies: A Force for Good and a Force for Growth 

Watch the interview

For the companies whose brands have joined and changed the conversation on social issues, taking a stand against inequality is not only a social good in itself. It is also an essential part of their relationship with customers and employees. In this conversation, Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer of Procter & Gamble, discussed how stepping up for equality and using brands as a force for good helps bind customers and stakeholders together toward a larger purpose. 

  • Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer, Procter & Gamble
  • Moderator: Chiqui Cartagena, Chief Marketing Officer and Center Leader, Marketing & Communications, The Conference Board

Key Quotes:

  • “The very simple act of accurately portraying people in a way that resonates and is relevant is good because it eliminates bias, and it helps drive growth because it increases trust, and it increases purchase intent.”— Marc Pritchard (@ 14:54)
  • “It’s not enough to just be representative. You have to be relevant, accurate, respectable, and then connect with people. And that is a better way to drive your business.”— Marc Pritchard (@ 15:47)
  • “In order to connect with the people we serve, we need to understand what their needs are and then we need to serve them. So we need to build in marketing and how we serve every consumer. When you do that, all boats rise. That in and of itself. Just getting to equality, all boats rise. It drives economic value, as well as being good for society.”— Marc Pritchard (@ 29:27)


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