Featured Media Coverage

Our Communities, Our Impact

Mike Masserman and Lisa Boyd presented at Social Innovation Summit 2020 on June 3, 2020.

This year’s Social Innovation Summit 2020 brought together nearly 6,000 leaders from across 75 countries to share stories and fresh ideas on the future of work. Mike Masserman, former Head of Global Policy & Social Impact, and Lisa Boyd, Director of Social Impact, explored how Lyft has taken up its commitment to social impact through the very specific lens of transportation.

To provide some key context, Lisa described how, in normal times, transportation is about far more than simply getting a ride—transportation is a foundational part of basic access and equity, and can mean the difference between getting to work, getting groceries, getting to the doctor—or not.

Now, in the era of COVID-19, transportation also means getting more domestic violence victims to shelters and checking on homebound seniors. With a spike in inbound demand from existing and potential partners expressing need for these and other needs, like getting pregnant women to medical appointments, dropping off food to kids who once depended on school meals, helping essential workers travel, and making deliveries for immunocompromised or otherwise at-risk individuals.

Just in the past few weeks, Lyft has built an alliance with more than 500 partners across the country to meet these needs for moving people and delivering goods. At this moment, Lyft’s response to COVID-19 is a major part of its social impact work addressing transportation gaps, as well as its internal work on authentic and transparent leadership. Showing up together now, reflected Mike, means advocating for a culture of kindness, respect, and empathy, which is more necessary than ever. While Lyft’s hard power is transportation, its “soft power is kindness,” specifically in how employees are caring for one another, their drivers, passengers, and partners.

Lisa reminded us that kindness must be rooted in action that starts at the top, created each day by leaders and every individual. Authenticity is one component of kindness, as it pushes people to be honest even when it’s uncomfortable. As long as, Lisa added, authenticity is paired with empathy and respect, the “radical candor” she encourages can be a tremendous tool for growth.

For Mike, disagreement is welcome and even productive, especially when teams are working on deeply complex issues. One guiding principle of leadership he reflected on was gratitude, not only in the area of work but in personal life. Social practitioners, he noted, “don’t go inward enough,” and do the work that pushes them to recognize the abundance all around.

Mike and Lisa ended their dialogue on that very note, putting philosophy into practice with gratitude for each other’s work, and looking ahead with an acknowledgement of the Buddhist philosophy of “focusing on what is,” and expanding that vision to also include “what can and should be.”

Watch Mike and Lisa’s entire conversation here and find all the thought leaders from Social Innovation Summit 2020 on the video Main Stage.

Investing for Impact

On June 3rd, our Head of Impact Investments, Ommeed Sathe, joined the Social Innovation Summit 2020 in conversation with Stephen DeBerry, Founder and Managing Partner of Bronze Investments. With a $1 billion impact investing portfolio, our team at Prudential is committed to funneling capital into new markets where we can solve acute pain points. We are proud to partner with Stephen in finding and funding entrepreneurs who can bring new technology to everyday people, everywhere.

A frequently overlooked market where there is enormous social need is the eastside of cities, where  Stephen has focused his work. Over many years, Stephen observed some insidious patterns, in particular that it was predominantly the eastside of cities that tended to be the most distressed and experiencing the most intense mechanisms of marginalization. “We’re focused on disparity by design,” Stephen noted, “that are intentionally architected to suppress and marginalize people. Almost every city was built during the era of legal segregation, so that design logic permeates.” In response, Bronze focuses on making investments that reverse these mechanisms.

Bronze is dedicated to finding new solutions to old problems. The need for real innovation is great, especially knowing how historically entrenched the practices and culture of institutional financial markets can be. Stephen described seeing this kind of innovation in early stage entrepreneurs, which caused Bronze to build early stage venture capital and invest intentionally in “the early stage innovation economy.”

Ommeed pondered how to get interest and capital flow into this investing. Stephen has noticed an increase in investing in funds managed by people of color, but this isn’t the sole framework for a solution, nor will it fundamentally change behaviors. “Not every problem can or should be solved with venture capital,” Stephen said.

Ommeed then asked about bringing innovation within the long-standing structural biases in venture, to which Stephen offered a story and a metaphor. During a game of Monopoly with his wife and two young daughters, he noticed the possibility of an entirely new way to play the game. Because his daughters lost the game early, Stephen invited them to team up with him instead of simply sitting out. Together, the family discovered that they could choose not to play against each other but against the bank, foregoing all rent and pooling their resources to buy up the board and essentially own the bank.

He reflected that it was feeling his daughters’ pain that pushed him to change the game. “It was my love for my family that made me look at the playing field differently. And that is the difference between optimization—charging more rent, getting more properties, getting others to go bankrupt—and innovation—getting to an outcome that is more just and more joyful.” Our collective task then becomes living out this vision of innovation in our systems and processes, to answer Stephen’s question, “How do we express that love through our institutions?”

Allowing humanity to show in the investment process changes investors and communities. Stephen reflected on the occurrences of people changing their wills, repairing family rifts, and healing their relationships by aligning capital with solutions to past problems. Going forward, harnessing this moment of national trauma for real change will require trust and respect of capital providers, in addition to capital and scale for black managers—the components, Stephen said, of allyship.

While Prudential has had an impact investing arm since 1976, we understand that the impact number is the baseline of support and that the real support is highlighting ideas that will push forward systemic change. Watch the entire conversation here and be sure to catch all the speakers at the Social Innovation Summit 2020 on the video Main Stage.

Inclusive Entrepreneurship & Capital

Jamie Sears presented at Social Innovation Summit 2020 on June 3, 2020

Creating the world we want to live in begins with dialogue—sharing the ideas and stories that build relationships and change. Such a space was hosted by Jamie Sears, Head of Community Affairs and Corporate Responsibility for the Americas, during the panel conversation she led at Social Innovation Summit 2020. At this virtual gathering of nearly 6,000 leaders and innovators across 75 countries, Jamie sat down with Amy Nelson, founder and CEO of The Riveter, and Arlan Hamilton, founder and Managing Partner at Backstage Capital. Their discussion spanned female entrepreneurship, systemic changes to hiring practices and capital investment, the impact of COVID-19 on women and mothers, and many more topics on the challenges and opportunities for women and people of color.

Arlan started the conversation with the story of her recently published book, It’s About Damn Time.  She described her journey “from housing insecurity to having raised and invested millions in startups led by underrepresented founders.” How she did it and what tools others need to do the same comprise the heart and inspiration of the book. The subtitle of her book also names who she wrote the book for: anyone who has also been underestimated—the very people who need the kind of investment Arlan now offers.

Amy added her story about creating The Riveter, a modern union for working women. Throughout her career in law and politics, she noticed “the absence of women in leadership, despite their being the majority workforce and backbone of our country.” What Amy saw the need for was an online and in-person community, a space to share stories and find allies in order to move women ahead faster. At its core, The Riveter is intersectional and inclusive, from its 40,000 members, 25% of whom are men, all the way to its investors.

Both Arlan and Amy are using their platforms to address the many different crises brought on by COVID-19. In their spheres they are seeing stark inequalities brought to light: women, especially women of color, losing their jobs at a faster rate and bearing more home responsibilities, as well as Black women receiving merely 0.2% of venture capital funding in 2019. Leveling the playing field by connecting people to each other will continue to be their core work and mission, until equal treatment and equal pay are finally achieved.

Watch the entire conversation here and find all of the Social Innovation Summit 2020 speakers on the video Main Stage.

Equity & Belonging

Irina Konstantinovsky presented at Social Innovation Summit 2020 on June 3, 2020

Social Innovation Summit 2020 brought together nearly 6,000 leaders and innovators across 75 countries. We were proud to see EVP and Chief HR Officer Irina Konstantinovsky in conversation with Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of National Urban League, with Erika Irish Brown, Chief Diversity Officer at Goldman Sachs moderating.

Irina discussed diversity, equity, and inclusion within Horizon and across the country, bringing to light our current moment as both filled with opportunity and need for leadership. Pay equity is at the center of this conversation. The data has long been clear about women earning less than men for the same work and there are deep racial inequalities in our pay practices. But, she cautioned, companies often find the work too expensive or too hard. “People have fear that it’s going to be a very expensive proposition. Or they want to take 10 years to address the problem. I think that’s unacceptable.”

Corporations are more willing than ever to put their employees, diversity, and equity at the center of their agendas. Yet some remain afraid to talk openly about race in the workplace. “It’s almost as if the workplace still needs to be ‘colorblind,’ a concept we need to break in corporate America.” Such fear prevents leaders from asking their black colleagues how they are feeling amidst all the racial unrest and anti-black violence. It prevents them from seeing colleagues’ hurt.

And so, corporate commitment to social justice must be approached with sustainability in mind. And the commitment, Irina insists, must be paired with “the fundamental work: that minorities, Black Americans, and women get paid equally for equal work. Without that, all those programs are not enough.”

At the individual level, employees are grateful for these conversations and the opportunity to hear leaders begin to talk more openly about race. And they are taking it upon themselves to turn away from being bystanders in the face of inequality or injustice, and instead turn to being “upstanders.” In this way, every person and the corporation as a whole works together to demand and live out their values of equity and inclusion.

Watch the entire conversation here and find additional speakers of the Social Innovation Summit 2020 lineup on the video Main Stage.