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NASDAQ CEO Adena Friedman on democratizing capitalism, and reforming free markets

NASDAQ CEO Adena Friedman: "I remain a true believer that capitalism is the best system that exists, we need to make sure everyone has access."

Video Transcript

ADENA FRIEDMAN: I remain a true believer that capitalism, as a concept, is the best system that exists, because it allows for people to maximize their opportunity. I think the key, though, is to make sure that everyone in society has an equal opportunity. So that's where I think that the execution of capitalism could continue to improve.

But both in terms of making sure that everyone in our society has access to capital to create a business, create jobs, and be able to innovate around ideas that they have, and I think we still have work to do. Because we have a lot of underserved and, you know, and certain minority organization-- populations that really just don't have that equal access. And so we want to make sure that as a purpose initiative that we have, that we start to make sure we educate entrepreneurs from all backgrounds on how they can access the public markets or-- or early capital, as well, to grow and expand their businesses.

And at the same time, we have to look at, what is the-- what is the responsibility of a company? And in particular, companies that are-- have been scaled and grown to-- in terms of their responsibility in the broader societies that they operate in, the communities that they-- that they serve. And what we're seeing on the back of the pandemic is that companies have really stepped up and stood up and said, I'm here to make sure that I provide a great return to our shareholders, but I'm also here to serve our employees and the communities around us.

And so some of the commitments that we've seen them make in terms of-- one great-- my favorite example is a grocery store chain who basically bought up all of the produce from local farmers who otherwise were not going to be able to sell their goods during the lockdown. And they bought them all up, and they donated them to food banks. Or you saw car manufacturing trans-- manufacturers transferring their-- their plants to be able to create ventilators.

Those are great examples, where those companies took that moment and said, we're here for a broader purpose, and we're going to make sure that we serve the communities around us in addition to making sure our shareholders get served over the long term. And I think that is the kind of spirit of cooperative capitalism.

I think going forward, as we go through this pandemic on the other side of it, there's also a really big opportunity for companies to cooperate with government. To say, we-- there are some big problems that we now have within our societies, and there's a way for us to use innovation in order to solve those problems. The private sector is-- really benefits. They have-- they have great innovation, and they have great access to capital. The public sector has the ability to solve big problems. And if you put those two together, you have a really great ability for us to advance our economy and advance our society going forward.