Our Voices

Compass Winter Investors Conference attendees strategize about disrupting the status quo, inclusive investments

Monday’s Compass Winter Investors Conference brought 130 attendees to Miami to learn concrete strategies about staying the course on inclusive investments and disrupting the status quo so the business world reflects a more just and equitable vision.

Noting that it took nearly three years to hold the annual winter conference in person, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights President Kerry Kennedy stressed that Florida was chosen strategically for convening the Investors Program of worldwide thought leaders representing nearly $7 trillion in Assets Under Management.

“Yes, it’s warm, and it’s sunny. But this also is the place where local officials have threatened to get rid of Advanced Placement programs, and blocked colleges from having programs on diversity, equity and inclusion,” Kennedy remarked. “Florida is the place anti-democratic anti-protest laws live. It’s the state that, last fall, decided to put dozens of asylum seekers on planes, fly them away, and dump them in Martha’s Vineyard. “This is also the state that is ground zero for the political polarization of ESG. Make no mistake, we are here on purpose,” she said.

Monday’s full day of sessions began with a panel discussion focused on the battle for ESG, led by NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights Director Michael Posner, and featuring Lorenna Buck of Ariel Investments, Steven Cobb of Pearl Energy Investments, Amanda van Dyke of ARCH Sustainable Resources Fund, and Sanaz Raczynski of Kohlberg and Company.

“We know that millennials and Gen Z are going to control $30 trillion over the next three decades, and women and millennials are twice as concerned about the environment and human rights related issues, social issues, as white guys,” Posner said. “And so one part of our world is forward-looking thinking about these issues. And then that puts pressure on you, the investment community. How do we respond to that kind of public pressure….and pressure from governments that are increasingly regulating environmental and social conduct.”

Following the panel, Kennedy held a fireside chat with Integrum Holdings Partner Ursula Burns on Disrupting the Status Quo.

Burns, formerly the CEO of Xerox, was one of the first Black women to lead a Fortune 500 Company.

She also served on the board of directors of Uber, American Express, and ExxonMobile and as Chairwoman and CEO of Veon, and Chairwoman of Teneo.

In 2014, Forbes rated her the 22nd most powerful woman in the world. In 2020, at the height of the nation’s racial reckoning, Burns was a clear voice, telling the world she was fed up with companies making excuses for failing to hire Black executives and other executives of color.

“We designed systems that excluded people. Built our country on those laws,” Ursula noted. “We then changed the laws, but not the habits.”

She mentioned that DEI is an opportunity, with a particular opportunity to make gains and improvements in private equity. “The puck is already moving in the direction of more transparency and diversity,” she said.