Chicago, America’s third largest city by population, is one of the great epicenters of American industry.
Boeing, McDonalds, and Discover Financial all have their headquarters either in the city of nearby.
But despite all that the city has going for it in the world of business, Chi-town still has a lot of problems.
Violence, poverty, and gangs are among the many front page issues that have tarnished the city’s reputation in recent years.
Late on Tuesday, the president tweeted about the gun violence in Chicago, writing, “If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the feds!“
Terrence Duffy, CEO of the CME Group, the world’s largest exchange, was born and raised on Chicago’s south side. And he’s all too familiar with those problems plaguing his city.
In an interview with Business Insider, he said his firm is doing its part by contributing to Chicago’s public schools. According to Duffy, firms in cities across the country have a “moral responsibility” to play a key role in fighting societal ills. Community improvement, according to Duffy, is a team effort.
His philosophy is simple: “If you’ve got a little, give a little, if you’ve got a lot, give a lot.”
Here’s the relevant passage from the interview:
Turner: You talked about America and its crumbling infrastructure. The state of the country, whether it is crime, or state finances, or infrastructure, all of that is conflated into this idea that America has been deteriorating. A lot has been written about crime in Chicago, for example.
Duffy: Chicago, it’s a fabulous place. The crime is no different than any other place around the world. Chicago gets a lot of notoriety about the crime. Unfortunately, we have it, but it’s like anything else, it’s concentrated in certain areas. It’s not rampant in the city. There are a lot of beautiful areas in Chicago.
No matter where you’re at, there are pockets of bad behaviour. There are pockets of bad behaviour in business. There are pockets of bad behaviour in society.
It’s up to all of us to try to fix it and root out some of those problems in business and society. I feel we have a moral obligation to do both.
Turner: Can big business do more? I’m interested in what has happened in Detroit, for example.
Duffy: Detroit is a great example. Jamie Dimon, with JPMorgan, has put a big investment in to Detroit. I have friends in Detroit, and I looked at it personally to do some stuff there. I’m not saying Detroit is going to come back or not, but you have to look at geographic locations in the United States, and say, “OK, what makes sense?” Detroit could. Kansas City could. Chicago does.
Chicago, and Illinois, should have no business being a state that is at the bottom of the totem pole, and being on the nightly news on every station around the country about how bad it is. It’s got the rail, the waterway, and the airports, and the best location in the US for distribution.
It has a very diverse business community, between our world, the insurance world, the advertising world. It’s not a one-trick pony. It’s not a financial-services town. It’s not an IT town. It’s kind of a little bit of everything. It has got a really good advantage, but when you look at people doing what they are doing in Detroit, Chicago should take notice.
Business has a moral obligation to be a part of it. You can’t be the entire solution, because the entire solution needs to have everybody. Our foundation contributes to so many different Chicago public schools. That’s great, but we can’t change it alone. Everybody has got to do a little part. If you’ve got little more, do a little more. If you’ve got a little bit less, do less.
But if you’re going to do nothing and bitch about it, then nothing is going to happen. I’m a firm believer in that, if you’ve got a little, give a little, if you’ve got a lot, give a lot. That’s the way we look at it. We’re very much involved in the civic community of Chicago and Illinois and New York, because part of our business is here.
I’m 58 years old and I have 13-year-old twins and I’ll be married 25 years next week. This is a weird equation. Can you do this maths? We had children late in life, they’re our only two children, and I want them to have a brighter future.
They’re going to grow up in a much more diverse world, and if guys like myself aren’t going to lead, in the position that I am in, to show them it’s OK to live in a diverse world and for us to help everybody, then who is going to do it? Because that’s where they’re going to be.
I’m very passionate about this. Whether it’s Kansas City, Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, we all need to do our part to make it a little bit better. Will they all be what they were at one point in time? Probably not. But could they be a little bit better than they are now? I think so.
Read the whole interview here.