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5 New Year Questions for Jemma Read on Bloomberg’s Commitment to Giving Back

Giving back to the communities in which Bloomberg operates has been part of the company’s culture since Mike Bloomberg founded it 41 years ago. From preparing emergency supply kits for people affected by disasters to mentoring people from under-represented communities around the world, Bloomberg employees came out in record numbers last year to provide their time, expertise, and resources to help those in need. To reflect on our employees’ impactful work, discuss what inspires their commitment to giving back, and how Bloomberg will continue to support others in 2023, we welcome Jemma Read, who leads Corporate Philanthropy at Bloomberg LP.

Jemma Read hosting an Instagram event at The Serpentine Galleries in London, UK.

What accomplishments from your program area are you most proud of in 2022?

As cities around the world reopened after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, I am most proud of the way our employees across the globe stepped up to support people in need.

Last year we had record numbers of employees participate in our Best of Bloomberg volunteering, giving, and access programs – an incredible 18,382 from 111 cities! From giving to our non-profit partners through Bloomberg Match and our Dollars for Your Hours program, to packing care kits for refugees, underprivileged families, homeless individuals, and elderly neighbors, to conserving and protecting green spaces, employees provided their time, expertise, and resources to better the communities where we live and work.

I’m also especially proud of the way Bloomberg employees lent their time and talents to help small businesses and non-profit partners, and how they mentored young people from under-represented and economically disadvantaged backgrounds all around the world.

What was something that inspired or influenced your work this past year?

Russia’s invasion of Ukriane caused devastation, driving millions of refugees into neighboring countries and destabilizing food, energy, and social infrastructures. Particularly inspirational was the way Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies teams came together and stepped up to provide immediate assistance: providing almost 1.7 million hot meals to Ukrainian communities; helping to re-integrate displaced journalists and their families; supporting on the ground educational needs through enabling safe zones; providing local-language psychological support for students in schools; and providing humanitarian support in Ukraine and other countries around the world where refugees are in need.

While conflict and crises displaced 100 million people around the world this past year, we saw the power of culture to elevate and celebrate refugee and migrant voices. In addition to facilitating the establishment of the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra, which provided a global platform to displaced Ukrainian musicians with performances across 11 global cities, we supported the international expansion of The Walk, a remarkable public arts program centered on a six-month journey from Syria to the UK by Little Amal, a 13-foot puppet representing the plight and hopes of young refugees.

Finally, as climate change increased the frequency of natural disasters – including flooding in Pakistan and South Africa, and hurricanes in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean – employees came together in remarkable numbers to help out, packing nearly 100,000 care kits and providing generous financial support to our humanitarian partners. The way employees go above and beyond is incredible. Last year’s record-breaking numbers truly showcased the Best of Bloomberg.

What are you looking forward to in 2023?

Bloomberg’s culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, and creativity, along with our incredible network of non-profit partners, means we’re able to help scale ideas from the next generation of leaders in a unique way.

I’m particularly excited to see the impact of our Innovation Award winners. Working with the Fair Education Alliance, these individuals are currently receiving financial support and tailored mentoring to bring ambitious plans to transform education in the UK. In a similar vein, our Fellowship with Echoing Green is identifying and supporting the next generation of global social impact leaders. Through the Data for Good Exchange, which convenes data science leaders on problems related to social good, we’ll see the rapid development of India’s non-profit sector. And by partnering on the Earthshot Prize we’re supporting the next generation of climate leaders. I’m optimistic that these initiatives will enable transformational change.

I’m also looking forward to hearing more from the diverse range of voices that we support. From aspiring leaders in finance and tech, to journalism that elevates the perspectives of under-represented communities, and bold new artistic projects across the cultural sector, Bloomberg recognizes under-represented perspectives are critical in making progress on some of the biggest challenges we face. Listening to and learning from the newest cohorts of future leaders making a difference in their fields is always a highlight. 

What are some trends or challenges you believe we’ll see in the year ahead?

The fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and other humanitarian and environmental disasters will continue to affect millions – both in terms of displacing communities and rising food insecurity. The associated increase in costs of living, particularly in the energy space, will add pressure to families and non-profit organizations already struggling to make ends meet and sadly, more people are likely to experience homelessness, both locally and globally. Working with our partners, we’ll continue to identify and scale innovative ideas to respond.

Entrenched social challenges will persist: women will remain under-represented, so we’ll continue to push for equity across industries including journalism, finance and technology, and through longer-term education initiatives designed to open up careers in professional sectors to young women. Through dynamic collaborations across cultural partnerships, we’ll help creative new voices to emerge.

Finally, we’ll see more innovation in the climate space. At COP27 last year, we helped to convene partners across the private, governmental, and non-profit sectors and unlocked new initiatives and funding streams. At COP28 later this year, we’re likely to see existing partners and new voices come together with even bigger ambitions. Underpinning these bold ideas, Bloomberg will continue to provide the tools, frameworks, and data necessary to take meaningful action.

What is a piece of media you consumed this past year (e.g. a book, podcast, tv show, movie, etc.) that you would recommend our readers check out in 2023?

There is so much great stuff out there, but last year I was really affected by content that approached issues from a radically different perspective. A great example is the Serpentine Podcast, an editorial platform created by one of our key cultural partners, Serpentine Galleries, which is chaired by Mike Bloomberg. The podcast explores how art and artists respond to the big issues of the day, bringing alternative and creative considerations. I particularly enjoyed the episodes from Brian Eno discussing how sound can reframe our ecological challenges and Torkwase Dyson exploring breathing and singing in the context of social exclusion.

Our Bloomberg colleagues are taking a similar, paradigm-shifting approach. The Bloomberg Zero podcast explores the policies, tactics, and clean technologies behind the environmental movement, tackling topics such as the moral case for climate activism and why agriculture is “the worst thing we’ve done to our planet.”

The launch of Bloomberg UK last year brought together new editorial talent creating distinct content for British audiences. Amongst a host of engaging content, the amazing Emma Barnett hosted a brilliant new show, Emma Barnett Meets. Highlights for me include artist Ai Wei Wei on the power of political protest, Dr. Jane Goodall on what chimpanzees can teach us about human nature, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama discussing compassion and sharing wonderful advice for our new monarch. Essential listening!