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Jacqueline Novogratz

Jacqueline Novogratz is the founder and CEO of Acumen. She has been named one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy, one of the 25 Smartest People of[…]

JACQUELINE NOVOGRATZ: In this moment of global pandemic our first instinct was to pull inward, protect ourselves, our families. Fully understandable. And then we started to look around to ask what is the meaning underneath this virus that has impacted the entire world. The first thing that coronavirus has taught us all is that in spite of all of the strength that we hold as humanity, so do we have a deep fragility and that both are connected to our interdependence. We're fooling ourselves if we think that we're separate from each other. Coronavirus has taught us that we are truly part of an interconnected web. We've gone in the course of my lifetime from a world where people could live in small tribes and communities where everyone looked the same, knew each other, practiced the same kinds of culture, traditions, rituals, to a world that became interconnected. Where we could see each other across the world. Where we grew to a place where there were more cell phones on the planet than human beings. And then we moved from being interconnected to interdependent.

And intellectually we began to understand that no matter how high the walls might go, globally we still faced the same enormous issues. The coronavirus has laid bare the gaping wounds of our society that had grown too individualistic over the last 30-50 years and reinforced our interdependence in the most profound ways. And so has it opened the conversation for a rethink, a reset, a reimagining. How we built systems that go from putting money, power and fame at the center to systems that are shared humanity and the need to sustain the Earth at the center. It starts with a moral framework. As much as we need new technological solutions, new ways of thinking about the capital markets, new ways of redesigning every one of our systems, underneath it must be a moral framework.

For most of my life I was told I was too idealistic. That people didn't want to hear words like moral or dignity or goodness. And yet if I have learned anything in 35 years it is that we as human beings yearn to be good. We yearn to be seen. That is as fundamental to us as the fear that makes us pull in and want to protect, want to compete. Coronavirus has taught us that if we do not build societies that protect the vulnerable and poor we will not succeed as a world, not in an interdependent world. Coronavirus has taught us that competition is not going to get us to a place where we have the vaccines and tests and systems that we need so that we can beat this one enemy that we all share. Coronavirus has taught us that our systems are fully interconnected. Even if we find a way to solve clinical health issues they are so connected to our education system, to our prison system, to our social safety net. Not only inside countries but across countries. And so coronavirus and this pandemic has offered us all the opportunity to reframe our society whose building blocks must sit on a moral framework, a moral compass if you will, that puts our humanity at the center, a belief in human dignity not just for this generation but for every generation that follows us. And that means we have to take care of the Earth as well.

The good news is that all around us in every community that I have worked in, every country on the planet are role models, business models not just for today but for our collective future. These are business models that are fueled by role models who are in turn fueled by their moral imagination. Who are taking entirely new approaches to the way that we use our scarce resources and our most precious resources, our fellow human beings to create change.