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Weaving a new narrative for equity at the New York Stock Exchange

Missie Thurston Oct 31, 2023

I was deeply honored to receive an invitation from FINTECH.TV to join them at their studios on the bustling floor of the New York Stock Exchange. In a place primarily reserved for raising money and selling shares, we ventured into a realm where the narratives of social equity, women’s rights, child marriage, gender equality, girls’ education, regenerative economics, and sustainability were given center stage. We also delved into the potent impact of Population Media Center’s storytelling for the global good.  

The NYSE is characterized by stark power dynamics and a notable absence of diverse voices. It’s a place where the view of the world, and the view of the people in the world, focuses on labor, commodities, and buyers. It’s a place where the intricate tapestry of our interconnected world often gets overshadowed by a focus on control and capital.  

It’s crucial within this space, and all spaces, to foster an inclusive dialogue on crucial topics like social equity, health, sexual and reproductive rights, education, regenerative economics, and sustainability. These conversations need to be happening on the main stage and in every corner of every system in the world.  

I ask each and every one of you to engage in conversations within your respective circles about the pervasive inequities affecting both people and the environment. It’s essential to recognize that these disparities oppress us all and pose a grave threat to our societies and ecosystems unless we take action to bring about change.  

Now, you must be thinking, “This all sounds rather bleak and depressing.” And you’re absolutely right. That’s precisely why we must reframe how we think and talk.

Talking is only meaningful when people are actively listening, participating, and engaging in genuine conversation. So, let’s acknowledge the harsh realities of our shared world while also challenging ourselves to tap into the core human spirit that motivates us. It’s time to dismantle the harmful and unfounded narratives that have taken root in our minds about each other. 

In many of my circles, I talk about how Lord of the Flies was fiction, but fiction that my contemporaries and I analyzed in middle school or early adulthood as we defined ourselves and the world around us. I ask friends, family, and acquaintances if they find it peculiar that we study Lord of the Flies, and reference it in everyday conversations, when a little more than 10 years later (1965) six boys – real boys – were shipwrecked on an island for 15 months. Their story is much more worth studying and sharing in middle school or high school as we build our view of humanity. And it’s much more worth referencing in everyday conversations.

Contrary to the fictional story of Lord of the Flies, the boys on Ata Island did not descend into violence and chaos. Instead, they worked together to survive. They built a shelter, gathered food, and cooperated, even creating a system of governance to make decisions collectively.  

As I stood on the floor of the NYSE witnessing rapid trading, it was clear to me that everyone there recognized that people and machines are connected, but it was also clear to me that this connection tends to stack rather than weave. It prioritizes control and taps into people’s fear of chaos, mirroring the flawed Lord of the Flies narrative instead of embracing the cooperative spirit of Ata Island. 

Our world is not reducible to simplistic dichotomies – laborer or buyer, healthy or sick, educated or non-educated, child bride or non-child bride. It is a complex tapestry of interwoven threads, where every strand is essential to the fabric’s integrity. To address one piece, we must tug at various strands, acknowledging the intricate connections that define our shared realities and futures.  

This journey toward a sustainable world with equal rights for all is both daunting and hopeful. It requires diverse voices, collaboration, and a trust (over fear) in the interconnectedness of our world. No single person could imagine, let alone create, the entirety of this intricate tapestry. Just as no single entity can solve the world’s challenges in isolation. This must be a collective effort – a symphony of voices and a celebration of the unknown beauty that emerges when we trust in the power of connection and cooperation. Every strand is equally important, creating a tapestry that allows a flourishing world for all.