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

Economic data

GDP growth: +0.6% Q1 2019 year-on-year
Consumer price inflation: 2.3% May 2019 annual
Trade: +0.4% exp, -1.2% imp, Q1 2019
Unemployment: 5.2% July 2019
Last update: 8 July 2019

OECD Observer Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Subscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To order your own paper editions,email

Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • MCM logo
  • The following communiqué and Chair’s statement were issued at the close of the OECD Council Meeting at Ministerial level, this year presided by the Slovak Republic.
  • Food production will suffer some of the most immediate and brutal effects of climate change, with some regions of the world suffering far more than others. Only through unhindered global trade can we ensure that high-quality, nutritious food reaches those who need it most, Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD, and José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, write in their latest Project Syndicate article. Read the article here.
  • Globalisation will continue and get stronger, and how to harness it is the great challenge, says OECD Secretary-General Gurría on Bloomberg TV. Watch the interview here.
  • OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría with UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly, in New York City.
  • The new OECD Observer Crossword, with Myles Mellor. Try it online!
  • Listen to the "Robots are coming for our jobs" episode of The Guardian's "Chips with Everything podcast", in which The Guardian’s economics editor, Larry Elliott, and Jeremy Wyatt, a professor of robotics and artificial intelligence at the University of Birmingham, and Jordan Erica Webber, freelance journalist, discuss the findings of the new OECD report "Automation, skills use and training". Listen here.
  • Do we really know the difference between right and wrong? Alison Taylor of BSR and Susan Hawley of Corruption Watch tell us why it matters to play by the rules. Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview here.
  • Has public decision-making been hijacked by a privileged few? Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview with Stav Shaffir, MK (Zionist Union) Chair of the Knesset Committee on Transparency here.
  • Can a nudge help us make more ethical decisions? Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview with Saugatto Datta, managing director at ideas42 here.
  • The fight against tax evasion is gaining further momentum as Barbados, Côte d’Ivoire, Jamaica, Malaysia, Panama and Tunisia signed the BEPS Multilateral Convention on 24 January, bringing the total number of signatories to 78. The Convention strengthens existing tax treaties and reduces opportunities for tax avoidance by multinational enterprises.
  • Globalisation’s many benefits have been unequally shared, and public policy has struggled to keep up with a rapidly-shifting world. The OECD is working alongside governments and international organisations to help improve and harness the gains while tackling the root causes of inequality, and ensuring a level playing field globally. Please watch.
  • Checking out the job situation with the OECD scoreboard of labour market performances: do you want to know how your country compares with neighbours and competitors on income levels or employment?
  • Trade is an important point of focus in today’s international economy. This video presents facts and statistics from OECD’s most recent publications on this topic.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at .
  • Visit the OECD Gender Data Portal. Selected indicators shedding light on gender inequalities in education, employment and entrepreneurship.

Most Popular Articles

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2019