Long-Term Capitalism

Partnering for Economic Opportunity

February 27, 2020  • Daniel R. Porterfield

Aspen Institute President and CEO Dan Porterfield delivered these welcome remarks at the “Toward a New Capitalism” summit co-hosted by the Institute and Prudential on February 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Follow him on Twitter @DanPorterfield.

Good afternoon, and welcome to today’s summit—Toward a New Capitalism: Investing in Innovation, Impact, and Inclusion—presented by the Aspen Institute and Prudential.

Please join me in thanking all who have prepared this room and our refreshments and whose planning these past few months has made this convening possible.

And I know I speak for all of us at the Aspen Institute when I thank Prudential and CEO Charlie Lowrey for all you do throughout your organization to promote financial inclusion and to show that the private sector can play a catalytic role in creating an inclusive economy in which all people and communities can thrive.

Prudential is the Aspen Institute’s long-time and deeply valued strategic partner on many efforts to drive systemic change in the ways that our global labor and financial markets work for youth, the disadvantaged, and the financially vulnerable. Our work together has advanced both policy and market solutions to critical challenges facing families and communities.

For example, Charlie, thank you for supporting the Reconnecting Work and Wealth initiative led by colleagues Maureen Conway and Ida Rademacher. And thank you for your $5 million investment in our Global Opportunity Youth Initiative led by Jamie McAuliffe and Steve Patrick as part of your bold commitment to support and invest in young people around the world.

All of this is about aligning our ideas and actions to achieve financial security for everyone.

We’re here today to write the next chapters in this work. Rising economic inequality remains one of the defining challenges of our time. The problem is acute, ubiquitous, global, and moral.

Its urgency can be obscured by the economic headlines, where many indicators sustain an aura of widespread prosperity.

In reality, our social cohesion is badly fraying because of both widening inequities and an escalating rate of economic change that threatens to leave many people behind.

That’s why the Aspen Institute, in collaboration with partners like Prudential and many in this room, has decided to pull together our people, programs, networks, and convening power in pursuit of solutions to drive change toward a free, just, and equitable society.

For 70 years, we’ve been doing just that—but there has never been a more urgent need.

And so, in October we announced that we have created our first enterprise-wide initiative aimed at building an inclusive economy—one where every individual, family, and community can gain, give, and grow.

We’re calling it the Aspen Partnership for an Inclusive Economy. This project is anchored by a $26 million investment from the Mastercard Impact Fund—a transformational investment in the capacities of the Aspen Institute to make a difference. And both Mike Froman and Marla Blow from Mastercard are here today—thank you both.

In the early days of our work, which is led by our co-chairs Ida Rademacher and Dana Hyde, we’re convening conversations of purpose-driven leaders from the private sector, government, and nonprofits to explore what more needs to be done and how we can work together to achieve a more inclusive economy. And we’re developing new proposals to increase financial security for workers and to enable access to capital for small and growing businesses and communities of color.

This is only the beginning. All across the Aspen Institute we have colleagues working on multiple dimensions of this enormous question—from healthcare to education and from financial security to corporate social responsibility to place-based solutions.

We think it’s essential to consider the pillars of an inclusive economy comprehensively, inclusively, and in a spirit of optimism.

We believe that solutions should be co-created in partnership with those who have been left out.

We think of equity both in terms of individual people and families, and communities that have been systemically marginalized. There’s no such thing as poverty-stricken communities; they’re poverty-structured communities, which means we can re-structure them, too.

We want to be a part of a movement in which people feel safety and security at the household level and believe that they and their communities can determine their futures and live their fullest lives.

We believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion are a commitment not for one time but for all time.

And we believe that we need all people, all communities, all policymakers, and all institutions to come together in a practical spirit of democratic fellow feeling.

Today, as a part of this broad partnership, the Aspen Institute is proud to co-host with Prudential this summit on the role of Impact Investment in the work of building an inclusive economy and creating a new capitalism.

And I can think of no better leader and visionary to give the keynote welcome this afternoon than Wes Moore, CEO of Robin Hood, whose life story and leadership demonstrate all of the values with which the Aspen Institute pursues this initiative.

So does Prudential, which has a decades-long track record of driving positive change in capital markets that leads to measurable social impact.

I’m so proud that the Aspen Institute is partnering with Prudential for many reasons—including the monumental choice that you made as a company to continue to have Newark as your headquarters and to triple down on the intentionality with which you invest in that community.

That’s the kind of choice we should recognize and celebrate.

And so, with that, I’m so pleased to introduce Charlie Lowrey, CEO of Prudential.

Charlie assumed the role of CEO after leading some of Prudential’s most innovative global and domestic businesses.

His vision is extraordinary—a dynamic corporation leading on issues of diversity, inclusion, and opportunity through both its culture and its practices.

Please join me in welcoming Charlie Lowrey.