Achieving Equal Economic Opportunity: LinkedIn Speaker Series with John Hope Bryant

February 24, 2015

john hope bryant

“Doing good and doing well aren’t mutually exclusive.”

This was just one of many important messages LinkedIn Influencer John Hope Bryant delivered when he spoke at LinkedIn, but it is the one that really got me thinking. As a young professional in my 20s working in the private sector, I often struggle with this notion. I’ve always considered myself someone who cares deeply about community and youth empowerment. But what a huge contradiction it is to claim this while spending Monday to Friday juxtaposed between catered meals and ping pong tables. Sure, I try to justify it by working for a company with a socially driven vision, but is that not an oxymoron in and of itself? For me, John’s words provoked an influx of thoughts and emotions like these. But most importantly, it helped me see the bigger picture.

By all accounts, John is an inspiring figure committed to driving economic opportunity through the empowerment of underserved communities. He leads an organization called Operation Hope whose mission it is to make free enterprise work for everyone through financial literacy, financial capability, and financial dignity. His speech touched on topics ranging from global human suffrage to racial discrimination, but each subject was grounded in his dream of achieving equal economic opportunity. And with 70% of companies in America employing less than 500 workers, he asserts that small businesses may be the best way to achieve it in the US.

The picture John painted of our economy really struck a chord with me because I clearly saw the part LinkedIn can play in fulfilling this dream of equal economic opportunity. Our vision at LinkedIn is to provide economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. If realized, this type of data can give real time insights to underrepresented communities about what jobs and skills are most in demand in their area and then we’ll be able to serve up actionable recommendations for the best skills and certifications needed to attain them.

Ultimately, I think his message helped validate the opportunity that really is in front of me, and the role I can play in it. The fact that I work for a company with a “socially driven vision” is much more than a justification to rest my conscience. It serves as a point of inspiration. It serves as a reminder that every task I do ultimately maps back to a larger purpose. And hearing someone like John Hope Bryant share his own vision to widen the opportunity loop helped me realize that I was already working towards the same goal.

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