On Tuesday June 9, Axios business editor Dan Primack and Axios markets reporter Courtenay Brown hosted conversations with New York Stock Exchange President Stacey Cunningham and Sweetgreen CEO Jonathan Neman to discuss how to keep businesses afloat during economic uncertainty and how to make structural changes that have lasting equitable effects.
Stacey Cunningham discussed how corporate America can improve racial equity at the C-Suite level. She also unpacked the NYSE's decision to close the trading floor out of public health concerns, and the subsequent impact on investors.
- On diversity at the head of companies: "If you have more diversity on boards, you get input on how to change your company and how to change your structure. Having diverse board rooms is critical to finding solutions and really changing the status quo."
- On safely reopening: "It cost investors millions of dollars a day when the floors were closed, which is another reason why we wanted to get back to offering that full level of service for our clients."
Jonathan Neman discussed Sweetgreen's decision to return their PPP loan and how they are uniquely positioned to take social action as a company.
- On the resilience of their business model: "We've been able to get back a lot of our business. And I think in a weird way, we're very well positioned for the other side of this even though food and restaurants have been severely impacted."
- On how companies can advance social change: "Our mission is building healthier communities by connecting people to real food. What can we do where we are uniquely positioned to be part of the solution? We cannot solve the whole problem ourselves, but there's parts of it where we are uniquely positioned to help...The first is food insecurity in low income and black neighborhoods. The second is going much deeper in support of black farmers and vendors and championing black farmers across the country. The third is creating time and space for our team members to vote."
In a View from the Top segment, Axios CEO & Co-founder Jim VandeHei spoke with Goldman Sachs Chief Learning Officer James Fulton about corporate social responsibility and the role of business leaders in social change.
- "It's now very clear that we're an actor on a much larger landscape. Community takes on a much greater importance in the context within which leaders are operating. I think going forward, that's going to be even more important, seeing ourselves as a component of a large and complicated system."
Thank you Goldman Sachs for sponsoring this event.