Peter Georgescu: "Capitalists arise: Defining the problems and consequences of inequality"


Chairman Emeritus of Young & Rubicam Peter Georgescu visited the OECD on 3 May 2016. The author gave a talk on inequality. Part of The Coffees of the Secretary-General series, you can read the complete transcript of Mr Georgescu’s presentation below.  

Thank you very much, I am delighted to be here and I would particularly like to thank Ambassador Yohannes who reached out to me several months ago and who is responsible for starting this very meaningful and important relationship that I have with the OECD. I also want to thank Lamia Kamal Chaoui for her help in organising and steering today’s event.

I’m here in Paris to talk about inequality, or as you call it: the need for inclusive growth. We know that this is an extraordinary challenge for all members of the OECD and far beyond. We can also tell that inequality of income, which leads to inequality of opportunity, is a real and serious threat, it is a threat to our way of life, our civil society, it is unjust, immoral and indeed unsustainable. I take my hat off to the OECD for being at the forefront of this crisis, you have rang the bell, you have the research and amazing data to diagnose the problem and to reach out with new initiatives.

I want to focus my presentation on the business sector, for two purposes. Firstly, I want to share with you what I believe is the culpability of business in this area; and secondly, to also point to important areas where potential and dramatic solutions in helping this crisis can be found. I also think that, as the title says, we capitalists must arise because we have the capacity and should have the wisdom and the urgency to bring solutions to this socio-economic crisis. We need to agree that a change in our behaviour, a real change in the way we do business is going to become essential and therefore we must act with urgency. The good news is that if we do act wisely the probability is very high that the solutions will bode well for the future of growth and prosperity. 

Get the full transcript here

Short biography

Peter Georgescu is the author of The Constant Choice – An Everyday Journey From Evil Toward Good.

He is Chairman Emeritus of Young & Rubicam Inc., a network of preeminent commercial communications companies dedicated to helping clients build their businesses through the power of brands. He served as the company’s Chairman and CEO from 1994 until January 2000. 

Under Peter Georgescu’s leadership, Young & Rubicam successfully transformed from a private to a publicly-held company. During his tenure, Young & Rubicam built the most extensive database on global branding and, from its findings, developed a proprietary model for diagnosing and managing brands. Within the marketing community, he is known as a leading proponent of creating unified communications programmes, agency accountability for measuring the impact of communications programmes, and structuring value-based agency compensation. In recognition of his contributions to the marketing and advertising industry, Peter Georgescu was elected to the Advertising Hall of Fame in 2001.

Peter Georgescu immigrated to the US from Romania in 1954. He was educated at Exeter Academy, received his B.A. with cum laude honors from Princeton and an MBA from the Stanford Business School.

His belief in the power of education has fuelled his involvement with organisations such as "A Better Chance" and Polytechnic University, both of which he has served as a member of their Boards of Directors. The University of Alabama and Cornell College in Iowa have awarded Peter Georgescu honorary doctorate degrees. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. In 2014, he was honoured with the Spirit of the City award by the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine.

Peter Georgescu continues to serve as a board member of a publicly registered company, Geeknet. Previously, he has served on the Boards of Levis Strauss, Toys R Us, EMI Recorded Music, International Flavors & Fragrances and Briggs & Stratton. He is currently Vice Chairman of New York Presbyterian Hospital, a Trustee of the Paul & Daisy Soros New American Fellowship Program and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. 

In 2006 Peter Georgescu published his first book “The Source of Success”, asserting that personal values and creativity are the leading drivers of business success in the 21st Century. His second book, The Constant Choice – an Everyday Journey from Evil Toward Good was published in January 2013.


Twitter: @PeterGeorgescu

©OECD Observer November 2016

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