Making Meaning in 2021 at the Crossroads of Business and Capitalism, Ethics, Faith, and Justice

Making Meaning in 2021 at the Crossroads of Business and Capitalism, Ethics, Faith, and Justice

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[Music] i'm i'm lori stevens i'm the associate dean for development and external relations at the harvard divinity school welcome officially i'm so glad that so many of you could join us we have over 400 people signed up for today which is just fantastic so now i'm excited to introduce our moderator john brown and this panel we put this panel together so that we could all hear more about pathways of different hds alumni and particularly today those pathways around business and the intersections of business with ethics and faith and justice um john this is an area of great expertise for john he teaches in this area at the divinity school and he just recently finished teaching a j term class with some faculty at the business school where he really looked at um you know how spirituality motivates leaders and guides their toughest decisions so i know he'll facilitate a wonderful conversation today john is a leader for our community in many ways as an alum of the school as a faculty member and as a member of our dean's council and as faculty member john is practitioner in residence in religion business ethics and the economic order so john take it away thank you thank you lori and the members of the external relations team for hosting this discussion i am especially pleased to introduce our panelists catherine collins mts 11 karen hudson mts 08 and al hussain medhani mts 2001. it has been an absolute pleasure getting to know each panelist during the run up to today but i would like them to introduce themselves to our guests and to briefly share with us a tidbit from their backgrounds that we will not find on linkedin or wikipedia and also describe briefly their journey to hds so to get us started catherine take it away please great john thanks so much and thanks everyone for joining today it's so wonderful to gather and have a chance to discuss these topics and the the interweavings uh that exist in all of our lives i'll tell you a little about how i landed at hds and then i'll give you my tidbit i came to hgs as a mid-career kind of student i had been investing about 20 years before i went to divinity school and an interesting thing happened when i made that decision my investment friends were all very happy but they kept saying things like we're so glad you found your calling and then my friends at hds were very very welcoming but they kept saying things like we're so glad you've seen the light uh and both were i think well-intentioned but a little bit divided uh and they really um reinforced this idea that these two realms should exist in separate uh arenas but my goal all along was to kind of unite them um as my investment work had proceeded over the years and i got more and more expert with more and more responsibility and the job actually got more and more narrow much more sophisticated in terms of all the financial lingo and tools that i was using day in and day out but bit by bit a little bit less connected with the world and the whole reason i love investing is that connection with the world the way that finance is influenced by the world and vice versa has the chance to have influence as well and so i wanted to really reunite these things and as i worked more and more in sustainability i found the same dynamic was at place the sustainability experts were speaking one language and the investment experts were speaking another language and so my goal in attending hds was to be able to be a better bridge and a better translator between these different domains of knowledge thankfully those have started to knit together in a much more complete way now but in going to divinity school i wanted to kind of get at the the root of the root you know not the tactics and tools of sustainability and investing but the the true core purpose of all the systems that we've created and to learn from that wisdom um so it was a wonderful chance to kind of re-route myself in my own practice and to think more deeply about what uh what a reconnected form of investing might look like um all the way along through that whole journey my tidbit is i am also a beekeeper i and so i cannot tell you how wonderful it has been to have this totally tangible alive model of uh collective system that functions uh very effectively uh as i'm struggling with all the questions um in our human realm about individual versus collective good uh beekeeping has been a tremendous uh boon uh to my understanding and uh that these have been amazing teachers uh right along with with all my community at hds thank you catherine karen please well that's hard to follow up that's a fantastic story i did not know about the beast but um anyway um hello all from new york city specifically snowy harlem and um to all my uh friends in boston i give you greetings we wish you well but um i hope you guys are still mourning the departure of tom brady and not going to the playoffs this year um in any case um i came to um i came to uh harvard really as focused on business and as a as a business student um and um as i begin to kind of explore um some of the um the intersection between real estate and community and faith um i grew up interest in learning what's happening at harvard divinity school and quite frankly i think i've always had in my blood what i think my faith would call like a calling catherine said for to understand more about what it is that i believed that i felt like that was something that was freeing um for the spirit and for the soul and for the mind and um and so you know i don't think everybody understood it um but it was something that i decided to pursue and i really never really questioned it in my mind um and um and when i walked into helmut kester's and showed a new testament class um it was probably one of the most significant experiences of my life um and so um and so um i continued to actually go to divinity school after i graduate from from business school um which i did in 2003 and for five years i guess until 2008 i was traveling back and forth on chinatown bus when jetblue first started on the 20 affairs to get up on tuesday and thursday classes and at the same time i had already started genesis um but um for profoundly fulfilling for me um and um and so um that's a little bit how i got to the mini school i would say in terms of a tidbit um even though i'm a bronx and harlem boy i love hiking uh got a chance to really experience it um when i was in my uh early 20s and um my favorite hike was uh with the national auto leadership school uh in the brooks range of of alaska thanks karin turner we're turning it over to al hussein please good morning everyone from sunny california silicon valley is from where i hail um you know i i joined the divinity school right out of undergrad uh i had decided i was gonna take a brief and quick stop between my bachelor's degree in medical school because i thought you know i'm going to be a doctor of the body i think i should probably study the soul as well i never went to medical school so i was entirely enraptured by the learning at the divinity school specifically the interplay between the history of religion and this great nation of ours um not just of one religion but of all faiths and how the faith community historically has actually been a pillar of the founding of this country and continues to be a pillar in the business community and in all other communities but there was never really this divide between them but actually a combination a combined force that actually brought us to where we are today so my divinity career never took me to medical school but i decided to pursue a you know advanced coursework and advanced degrees in islamic studies and in arabic and i was teaching arabic at georgetown university on 9 11. and i leaned heavily on my divinity degree and my divinity connections during the months and years after in which i was asked to serve my country as a subject matter expert in islamic studies in arabic how did i land in silicon valley well here's the tidbit everything i've done actually can in terms of my success and my decision matrix really boils down to just one decision and that is to just follow my wife around the world and figure out what she's doing and if i can just ride on her coattails so um i'm actually the scrub like she's actually the baller i don't know but uh you guys should meet her she's pretty amazing and you know when we were in washington dc that's where i was she received a job offer to from a company that claimed they were going to make money on the internet in 2007. i mean do you guys remember that time that's when like craigslist was like the homepage of the internet that's in like when yahoo was like the bomb do you guys remember that yahoo.com well you and i were carrying blackberries because we were cool but most people were carrying like motorola flip phones and she received the call to join the small company out here to make uh to make money on the internet when the world had thought all the money was made already on the internet and i followed her out here to silicon valley without a job and leaned in heavily into her career and had to recreate myself out here in silicon valley leaning again heavily on my divinity connections my harvard connections and you know my my expertise and that's how i found myself in corporate america now leading people operations and human resources at a uh you know small half a billion dollar startup here in the valley thanks alan saying great story from all three of you each of you is engaged in a critical sector of the economy technology sustainable investments sustainability and built communities catherine as head of sustainable investments for putnam my question is we're going to share on the screen momentarily a copy of the un's sustainable development goals meanwhile i'd like to ask in an interview published a few years ago you said the following formal religions can be exclusive and we need to extend their wisdom into more secular contexts that are widely accessible please tell us what that statement means to you within the context of the world we live in today and if you can provide us with an example from your personal or professional experiences that would be great sure um thanks for the question john there's there's a lot in there i think the overarching theme which which all of us actually have already touched on in in different ways from our own perches is um is this theme of reconnection you know the idea that um you know ethics sit over here in the religious sector and then the business world sits over here you know it's just a fiction and we all kind of know it and yet the tools and the structures we've created um in all of these different dimensions i i think are usually designed a little bit more for exclusion than inclusion um it's true in a lot of our religious settings and institutions it's true in academia i'm sorry to say it's definitely true in finance you know what's the first thing you do the first thing you do is you create a whole series of language and rituals and and shorthand and kind of insider knowledge um that has this wonderful effect of binding a community together but has this ancillary effect that's not so great that sort of fragments folks and um in doing so i think we leave ourselves open for a really important tension um that is at the center of my work at putnam um where we're trying to take a more complete more holistic long-term view of thoughtful investing and so we're taking all the things that have been kind of set over in the corner or called externalities and kind of bringing them back into the process the tension is that doing that um because we have created all these different silos is is easier said than done um the sdgs are actually a great example of this so here we have this really glorious complete comprehensive roadmap for for what we think might constitute a thriving world and how we might you know make progress in that direction very ambitious stunningly labor intensive to get to the point where there is an agreed-upon map at this big global level but i spent some time at the un last year and as soon as you have a map that's very complicated and comprehensive the natural tendency that we have in our institutions is to create a lot of stuff to support that map and so you know the sdgs are not just those 17 icons there's hundreds and hundreds of pages on exactly what is meant and how we can measure progress and all the different policy implications that should be considered and um what constitutes you know true alignment versus partial alignment all of that's hugely necessary and an important part of what an effective bureaucracy can do but oh it's heavy and it doesn't always match what we're witnessing in the world in terms of what's important you know the things that fit on your spreadsheet are not always the things that are most relevant to consider and so there's this push and pull between wanting to have thoughtful comprehensive kind of quantifiable progress and really keeping that north star of why uh in mind um when i when i was visiting the un we had a few days kind of deep in that bureaucratic uh diving into the weeds element and then i turned a corner and um i had no idea that that i was in the spot uh where this is but there's a beautiful um chagall window in in the united nations kind of down a funny little hallway and it's it's the blue angel and so you're walking down this you know kind of closed off setting and all of a sudden this angel appears um to me that was the moment like that was the bridge like oh my gosh here's this very heavy handbook that i can hardly carry if i print it out but here is what we're really after right and so holding those two things simultaneously for for many of us in our professional settings i i think is the task you know to not let go of either either end of that equation so what that means in practice for my team has been really interesting again trying to kind of hold both of these elements together on the quantitative side many measures um the team has been very successful we run two mutual fund products that have had really stellar results all the conventional markers of investment success um it's just been a few years but at this point you can say check check check um but boy that's like tip of the iceberg for what you really want to know um when i think about the things that are a little bit under the surface both for us and for the companies that we invest in that's where all the interesting stuff lies and again it doesn't fit so neatly on a spreadsheet but boy it's so much better i have the chance for example when i talk to ceos of companies to either take sort of a checklist approach and walk them through a very tedious report card process critiquing all along the way or i have the chance to ask something much more open-ended and hopefully maybe more inspiring so i tend to ask ceos on the sustainability front before we turn to all the metrics and report card elements um you know what what's the coolest thing you're doing you know what is the thing you're proudest of that you don't get to talk about very often what is the thing that investors never ask you about that they really should because it's the key to everything that you do you know if you really wanted to make the greatest difference in the world what would that be like what might you do um gosh that's such a fun conversation it's much more important than double checking all the data that i already can get from other sources similarly on our team you know we spend a lot of time with our heads down in spreadsheets so one thing that we do on a weekly basis when we get together is we do this quick uh round robin of best things you know what's the best thing happened to you this week and um you know it started out very wonky and work oriented and has gradually gotten more and more personal but this is directly from my divinity school training you know what are we doing it's a gratitude practice and it's building community now i don't call it that you know if i showed up the first day and said to our team hey we're going to do a gratitude practice to build community there aren't that many financial firms where that would go over super well but the impact is terrific and everyone's happy to do it um so the labels kind of get in our way again i'm sort of ending where i started i think this tension between needing to have thoughtful clear analytical quantifiable frameworks for things that really matter and also needing to keep that that sort of blue angel in sight you know that that sense of community and connection and purpose you know for for almost all of us living at this point in history that's um that's our role right is is to be fully present and fully active across all those dimensions thank you catherine that's fascinating your work is is indeed timely given the multiple challenges our society faces for him you have been making meaning in and through multiple facets of your life as a husband a father investment banker trustee of your church in new york board member of the new york theological seminary and of course founder and ceo of genesis to name just a few of your commitments genesis is a for-profit enterprise whose name and roots can be traced in several ways to the combination of a course you took at harvard divinity school and the first book of the bible please connect the dots for us and unpack how you view the intersectionality of an active civic minded entrepreneurially driven family center and faith-based life thanks for the question um definitely not um definitely a lot there um i'll do the best i can you know it's funny another way that that um harvard did any school touched uh you know my business was i think it was a professor coogan teaching introduction to the old testament at that time but i took the course and um he started with a um a reading of genesis which you know uh i had never really quite uh heard before which was a much more i guess um explicit or um uh a tangible meaning of what it would have read and i might probably watch this up so forgive me professors were on the phone but i think it was like in the beginning uh when god created the head all began to create the heavens and the earth right the earth was a formless void um and darkness covered the face the void and when when it went from god spirit of god swept over the face of the earth all the waters hopefully i did that right um but um and and one of the things he said was that in the ancient mind um it really wasn't about a creation of something out of nothing which was phenomenally interesting to me um but it was more about um god perfecting god calling god making better what was there and that really became um a guiding principle for genesis um we don't come into communities and believe that we are creating something when there's nothing and there's disarray we are trying to add to the community to build it up to create communities of resiliency um and um whether that's for somebody who's making a low-wage jobs who's making a working wage a living wage moderate income market rate um we owe it to all of those folks to provide that quality of of life it's the best that we can do it um and so that's what we try to do um and we try to look at the communities that we involve ourselves in and figure out how can we kind of meet the needs because from the ethics standpoint but it makes sense from a profit standpoint um so we've never really thought about ourselves as a double line double bottom line business we we provide a product to the to the to our communities that we think people ought to have and that's a good product and that's a reason why they want to live there and and so we don't take any of that for granted um and we challenge ourselves even when we make mistakes to do better and to change um and so you know that's how we that's how we thought about the business and i would say like when we first started genesis we looked you know i looked around and i grew up in the harlem in the bronx which was some of the toughest neighborhoods back in the 90s um and um a lot of my friends have asthma all kinds of sick buildings syndrome stuff and you know you just look and say okay my my mom and my family sacrificed so that i can do so much but this can be better right it's basis of capitalism that there's a need you can address right and um and so that void is what i felt genesis could fulfill and a lot of other developers who have the same mentality as i do and so um you know that's how we thought about the business and the profit motivation is important because resources are important and you know i believe that i could take my mind that was trained by some of the best investment minds um and create a business that was profitable and sustainable and put out a product a a housing product and others that um could be sustainable as well for the tenants um sustainable for those communities um because we can't put out a product that can't keep itself alive because then we are essentially undoing the good work that we're doing um and so i think um all of that plays um the role of addressing inequities i mean you know several decades of inequities and real estate and land um and the fact that you know a young black kid who um really had no um uh affiliation or understanding what it would mean to the business person mentored by trustees from a little college in massachusetts amherst college who asked me if i want to be an investment banker and i said what am i going to do like sit in front of a computer all day and they have to explain to me like what it meant to be a business person i didn't know um but that i could take that beginning and become the ceo of my own company with the effort to create generational wealth you know a success story for capitalism um and a success story for faith so um i think there's um despite everything that we may be grieving about in the world there's a lot that we can do um and there's a lot to be proud of in terms of what we've created we need to continue to look forward and figure out ways to continue to build upon that thank you it's very very informative congratulations al hussein you and your wife were early adapters to the tech sector i have a two-part question for you the first part is could you share with us a few of the learnings both positive and less than positive that you have gained from your experiences in silicon valley and number two when we met last week to prepare for today's discussion uh you expressed concern about one of the lesser discussed outgrowths from the pandemic specifically the exponential surge in the money supply would you mind explaining in a late person's language why this metric is as important as it is and what it suggests for this anxiety latent period in human history in which we all find ourselves and from there we will pick up on our discussion about capitalism and repairing the world hell of saying please take it away thank you john and you know thank you come and catherine for your great comments so silicon valley is a place where as my friends will tell you uh like they they think i'm unemployable anywhere else in the world like you can't take my resume and get a job in new york or dc because you know you go from start up to fail to start up to fail and you try and figure it out and you try and uh and you fail fast and what you realize in silicon valley which is a melting pot and it creates there's an entire ecosystem that supports this is that the distance between success between you and success is actually quite small the distance is actually quite small and it's one on the margins it's one on the margins what you realize is that whether you're a 26 year old ceo that's just closed 100 million dollars from a venture capital firm or you are one employee at one of these companies i've worked at everybody is an entrepreneur and everybody has an opportunity to succeed in a way that is beyond what they had ever imagined why because you are building the future here you're building the future you're building the ship you know while it's sailing uh in many ways um and so my emergence it's in silicon valley is really around as i mentioned earlier just following my wife here uh it was accidental um but we've benefited greatly from it and uh in part it for me it was just to answer the call right and to the call to service and you know in my role now as a people officer you know i think about the community that we're creating in our companies and i think about you know the challenges that our employees face not just on a day-to-day basis but existential challenges ethical challenges and so one of my learnings is that success is actually one on the margins and success is actually the distance between anybody and success is actually quite small the other thing i've learned is there is a everybody here in silicon valley no matter how much money you've raised no much no matter your wealth that you've created or the lack thereof everybody is very very very similar in that we're all actually human and we're all very much the same and the quicker we realize that the quicker you realize that you could be that person too that's what i love about silicon valley is that you literally could be anybody all you have to do is try now when it comes to the money supply and this is something that's very important for us to understand it's something that i'm spending some a lot of time thinking about and discussing uh you know among my cadre and cohort here and that is you know the united if you look at this chart the united states has printed more money during this recession in the last 11 months than in the first two centuries of our founding right so if you zoom in a little bit and you go to the next slide what you'll see is that blip in 2001 that speed bump in 2008 compared to today so this is actually significant this is deeply significant and what i would say to this is that we as americans nay humans are tired of being productized you know the saying if it's free you are the product meaning somebody is monetizing you and your data whether it's social media or trading shorts on robinhood as we've seen this past week where they've it's actually free to trade on robinhood because they receive payment for order flow or even receiving a 1200 stimulus check in the mail if it is free you are the product and so the decentralized and so what i would articulate is that we as corporations and as americans and as humans should be seriously concerned about this the m1 money supply and as a answer and i think what we're finding in our communities increasingly our faith communities our corporations and the way we are restructuring faith and organizations is that we're creating a decentralization of power and access so that value accrues to all equally not just to a single body not just to a single corporation um and that whether you're at a corporate level or a non-profit or a faith community or just an somebody living in their home sheltered in place it's time for us to play offense when the rest of the world is playing defense in light of the increased money supply great thank you karim um we are coming up to the point where we'd like to open it up to questions but i have one last question for you and if you could answer it just in about one or two minutes um could you share your thoughts uh regarding the notion that capitalism is right for change for example university professor rebecca henderson has suggested that in effect repairing a world that is on fire will require reimagining capitalism my question is if you could put the broader challenges facing society such as justice sustainability ethical norms and human development within the context of your own faiths and your hopes for 2021 what would that mean and karim i know you are near and dear or the concerns of justice and prison reform are near and dear to you if you could get us started but again i would ask each panelist to try to confine your comment to roughly two minutes please grim if you could start us sure um so i guess my answer would be that um i i do not think capitalism is the problem um but i do think um there's a lot of personal responsibility that needs to be generally taken i'll give you one example um and it hits on the criminal justice stuff but you know we were hiring a third a large third party property manager to manage some properties for us and we didn't have a maintenance person a porter to work the properties and um you know we went to attempt service and got a young african-american must have been in his early 30s maybe late 20s to work for us he was doing a fantastic job i had gone by as the owner and just kind of like checked on things and i saw him there working late his daughter was kind of in the office he didn't have anywhere to kind of store her well while um while he was working and got a chance to talk to her and meet her and i said to the the large firm i said hey why don't we just go ahead and hire those guys we're paying we're paying a premium for the attempt service and um they said you know that's a great idea chris should go ahead and do that so i got a call a couple weeks later and said we can't hire the guys what do you mean you can't hire the guy you know you know apparently we got some interaction with the police at some point when he was you know you know maybe late high school or you know recently you know after that and i said well this is probably like 10 12 years and i said yeah was it anything serious probably not but you know our our uh our guidelines don't allow us to hire him and uh and i thought it was just an absurd resolution to a guy who potentially made a mistake maybe didn't um that his life should be completely shut off um and beyond uh any mercy or forgiveness because of some interaction that was unclear that he had when he was a kid um and so we had found we figured i would hire him by actually hiring through our company and then allowing him to service the property so we got through the issue but i think you know we need to be looking at who are in these driver seats and what decisions are being made and on the flip side of that i would say um that um i believe actually that the the corporate body and remember that's also non-profit institutions like harvard um have done even in the face of some of the racial issues and police brutality um whether you like all the programs they have or not they have resourced many programs and responded in ways in my view that have been much faster than our government um and so um while i think there's certainly issues in the in the corporate body um i think that um there's a lot to be desired from folks um on the government side and other sides and even in our faith communities who have been broken apart uh by disagreements and politics um that uh that they have they have been much slower to respond to the needs in the communities um at least that i come from that i service thanks karim kathryn yeah there's such a lot there i think um the the two words that keep coming to mind for me are um proximity and alignment um and i think um this strings together the last couple of things we've talked about here um whenever i see a layer whether it's in a business or in a financial structure um or in a process or a rule system that creates more opacity i naturally just kind of put a little star beside it because often it's it's well intended but it ends up opening up these consequences that are not so not so well intended over time so that's true in the human level uh it's it's true in terms of capital flows um it's true in terms of you know setting up a rigid rule system that if you just fast forward five or ten years has some really strange effects i'll give you a quick tangible example just to make it clear um by some measures of sustainable investing the first thing you do is have no affiliation whatsoever with any company that is a major user of hydrocarbons and there's good reason for that i think it's pretty intuitive probably to everyone listening if i do that as the first rule it means i never talk to any of those producers i never can engage with a big utility for example that is transforming its entire fleet from hydrocarbons to renewables it can't really be part of the shift right because i'm just seceding um and so this this reconnection again i think relates very directly to the alignment of you know how is this system created and what are the natural consequences that come from it um when we ask the question you know is capitalism broken those are the two things that i always find as root causes you know the current form of capitalism is not so great in some ways but it's pretty awesome in other ways same for democracy same for education i mean you can say it for almost every big system that exists at this point and so the diagnosis to me is to get back to that proximal level so like karem just mentioned you know once you know the person you can figure out a solution uh you know once you see the investment opportunity you can figure out a way to actually connect the dots but if you can't see it if you're not that close to begin with um that's a real systemic structural issue that um i think we can all play our part in in resolving great thank you kevin allison yeah so i think sure i think we're restructuring capitalism and its impact to the the little person in silicon valley and technology is a great disrupter there i think we are going to find a future that is decentralized finance is decentralized opportunities are decentralized and more value will accrue to the individual not to the the whole we're seeing that in the way social media is restructuring we're seeing that in the way investments are restructuring and we're seeing that the way stocks are being traded today the two words that come to mind for me are are grace and shame and i think we as humans experience shame in this society and as leaders our responsibility is to provide grace in our corporations during this tumultuous time as a recession even outside of this is find opportunities and avenues for grace within the system everybody carries shame everybody carries some level of shame and often it is due in fact to a work environment a systemic environment that they have put themselves in in order to provide for their family my response is with grace and as leaders that's where we should focus our energies great thank you thank you all of the panelists for your time and your input and to our guests who are participating across the the internet um we're excited to continue this discussion with a little engagement from all of you who are here we have one question to start um sort of a reflection and question from bruce mcever um you know saying doesn't doesn't a lot of this boil down to the golden rule in business treating others as you would like to be treated and running your business like that um and i think you touched on that al hussein even like in your remarks about grace um but if if you know you or anyone else want to just share any other reflections on that or how you think about that that would be great i think it's a good point i'm sorry going out i know you're gone so so i would just ask us in our daily lives as we walk through the halls of corporations or go through zoom after zoom after zoom meetings in our crazy back to back schedules to think about grace and to think and realize that people do carry shame that's all just recognize the humanity of those on this two-dimensional brady bunch view of the world as a start corrine no i think it's a good point especially in seeing humanity i would just say that um on the also on the question i think there's a lot that can be done better um when it comes to the corporate body um i i think it's really interesting with all the police brutality stuff how quickly the corporate folks made policies and put resources behind various things um whether it's too little or too much um can be debated but i think that oftentimes we also have to look at the notion of um you know the golden rule even outside of capitalism right you know capitalism doesn't survive in and of itself it's still subjected into a government system right and so you know to the extent that people care more about being elected then they care about their mission and duties or in the faith context you know um not having the golden rule mentality that all affects us right not just affects capitalism and so i i think it i think it goes beyond just whether we should be running a business certain way i absolutely believe that um but we have to look at society as a whole i think before we can just say okay hey capitalism needs to be focused in on i think that would be my comment yeah because it's often the case that elected officials first action when they are elected is to staff their reelection campaign right because they are overly focused on being career politicians rather than serving and answering the call to service well and i think bruce your comment brings up a really important reflection we've all touched on in different ways i've been trying through my divinity studies and elsewhere to ask a different question when these kinds of disconnects come up like that's totally true that politicians do that why you know what under what conditions does that make perfect sense um and is there something we could do about those conditions right i think we're in a very polarized time right now especially in the us where it's just us and them good and bad on every issue and a much more interesting question usually is how did that come to be you know why does that seem sensible to these folks that i so strongly disagree with on this topic um it at least opens you up like just a little bit more to to seeing something that you might not fully fully see otherwise and that's a big piece of what's embedded in your comment bruce the idea that um you know the the revised golden rule the platinum rule is do unto others as as they would have done unto them you know not not kind of imposing your thoughts of goodness i would just say if i can be a little controversial that so what is the role of the faith community like have we stepped up enough in these times and been a guidepost and you know and you know i was listening to i think an npr podcast and they were talking about evangelical churches and how they'd have to like figure out ways to discuss all of the political kind of like bickering that's happened there around you know trump versus biden and all that kind of stuff and so and what is the role of the faith community to to to continue to serve these communities right we do have non-profits playing a larger role than ever in communities right and in some ways you know doing things that that we have to rely on the church to do you know many many decades ago and so i think we have to look at faith too and and a call to action there and a renewal in a and saying hey guys we can't just sit and preach the same thing we can't just we can't just sit and teach the same thing we have to figure out how are we making this relevant to the world that people live in now which is inequality it's injustice um and you still want people to pursue happiness and and confidence and so all of this stuff to me is important for us as faith leaders to be dealing with and having relevance about i would just add that we we as faith leaders have to go to the conversation we can't wait for the conversation to come to us and more often than not it's happening online and in diverse and decentralized communities off of the main you know thread as it were and it's not happening necessarily in not only happening in brick and mortar institutions but are actually happening and people are self-organizing in communities online and our role should be to go and bring the conversation host the conversation there not expect it to come to us flowing in a related but slightly new direction um there's a question focused on access and you know the background for the question is who can and cannot participate in capitalism for profit is the is the problem and um she says most minorities participate as consumers money leaves the community quickly and spends more time providing for whites in their communities how can we get banks to provide loans to minorities for their community businesses well access to capital is a huge issue in the african-american community and it has dogged our ability to be entrepreneurial but so is criminal justice um you know we have many of our outsized amount of men and even women who are going to jail and essentially being stripped of their rights um you know how can you have sustainable communities that can grow economically um and then education are huge issues right um and you know i would say though i believe in the african african-american community specifically there are tremendous tremendous thought leaders and innovators um that have not been able to um access um capitalism um and um in many many ways um maybe because of liquidity maybe because of situations um you know and so that absolutely has to be addressed um and i think some of the banks have begun to look at programs to deal with issues of um of inequity in in in in capital raising or in liquidity or access to capital um and that's a conversation but i think what we've learned as an african-american community is that as when we were shut out of the corporate uh world we had to figure out ways to get into it and then we had to make change right and show hey that we can be valuable contributors there um i i i think that um the answer is that we have to um open up those access to capitals and we have to allow folks to be innovative and that means we have to give them opportunities um to to to um you know to indulge in their talents and i think uh and and and that means keeping them out of prisons um and giving them access to education and so you know to me those are the those those are the key those are the key things and i don't think we can demonize capitalism um we have to allow folks to celebrate it because um you know whether you're a kid on the street and you want to see somebody doing well other than sports or if it's in you know music or whether it's in business they should be able to see all those role models or in politics rather you see all those role models or faith leaders that you'll see all those role models and figure out what is that they want to do and be able to achieve those things so that's my view on it one thing that um that i'm observing when we talk with you know big financial institutions who are at the heart of some of this challenge um one thing that's shifted that is very encouraging to me and again kind of hard to fit on a spreadsheet is that we seem to be moving from an era where the response would be um in some cases positive but very limited you know so we have a new initiative we have a new loan pool we have a new program all of which can be wonderful um but they're only wonderful if they are bridges to a bigger more systemic solution that is you know a truly inclusive kind of underlying system and so one thing um that we've been discussing with with some of the major banks that are investment candidates for us which could not have been a conversation even i'd say five years ago is okay you've got these initiatives that i can see like out in the press release you know awesome way to get some energy and focus um but tell me what you're doing behind the scenes you know what are you changing in terms of policies what are you changing in terms of ongoing guidelines what are you doing in terms of changing your own processes um to really make this a more permanent shift and not just a neat program that when it ends it ends and um so again that that sort of reconnection and that willingness to to look within as opposed to like the the mentality of you know i'm gonna do you a favor you know by like offering this gift like it's it's a big shift to go from you know i'm gonna do this thing voluntarily to like oh we need to change our own our own selves you know our own systems internally um so i'm i'm very encouraged by that it's early days but um just the recognition that um you know one by one special program is is not gonna get at that root is um a really really big shift and i would just quickly say it's gonna take sacrifice and it's going to take a lot of time and so take a long view take a long view and recognize that we also have to see it to be it right and so find those up find those mentors find those coaches and find those leaders that you that we can model ourselves after to find perhaps a quicker path to individual success so that you can create we can create family success and then you know success in the community it will take sacrifice though i totally agree with that alan's name is a great point i mean if i look at my business you know we have suffered from access to capital but we've grown through that right but you know we hire a very diverse workforce behind a lot of folks who live in the communities and so we can i can make a change go to the thought process of hey money is flowing out of poor communities in our minority communities but we can change that right i can hire folks in those communities in those communities they can now have stable jobs they can now have families and grow their families and hopefully educate their kids and be a good father and be a good mother um and and we're giving those opportunities by employing them so i feel like we can be on the front lines as business owners and it goes outside of to me racial identity politics right it's not but they have to be thinking about okay how can i make a change and how can i actually institute policies at catherine's point that do change and you know i'm not going to solve the world's problems but the folks who i believe are working for our firm have a good living are able to have a living wage and are able to grow and to have stability which is the concept right if kids don't have stability at home they can't go and get educated so i think it starts the building blocks um and and taking personal responsibility for doing the good stuff i think we that we could talk all day and we'll have to find ways to continue this conversation i think we'll start to wrap up there um john i want to give you a chance to say you know any concluding thoughts and then i'll just share some final final remarks and we'll sign off thank you lori and thank you panelists if we had three more minutes i would ask you one last question but i will give you the preface to the question and let that be my closing comment in my private conversations with each of you i detected a keen awareness if not a personal identity with an empathy for some of society's biggest challenges but i also noticed in your voices and your demeanors something called hopefulness i think this is the one area that i wish we could have explored just a little bit more for each of you to share how you have managed to remain hopeful in this period in which the pandymic social unrest and pronounced discord seem to be uttermost in our public and private conversations so i thank you for the message of hopefulness some of which i believe came through in our conversation this morning and it's a conversation i hope to follow with each of each of you at some later point but thank you ever so much thank you lori and your team and thank you to our guests for joining us thank you john my thanks to you to all of you all hussein kathryn karim and to the to the der team put this together um i i wanted to conclude with the exact same feeling i feel more hope after this conversation than i have felt on many days of late and i think believing you know i love the the reference to amanda gorman's poem all hussain and the just you know believing that we can keep moving forward and we can take a long view and that there are good people you know who want to find ways to work together and make the most of capitalism and democracy and all aspects of our society um so thank you thank you so much um everyone i know that the panelists are happy to hear more questions if you have questions and you want to email them to us afterwards um you can you know reply to the original event invitation or whatever works for you we can share more questions with them and happy to connect you you know individually also i want you to look out for an article um john had the wonderful thought to share clay christensen's article how will you measure your life as follow-up to this discussions to just provide some more food for thought and reflection that's all for today thank you so much thank you thank you lori thank you kareem and catherine thank you everyone [Music] you

2021-02-12 16:48

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