Hello and welcome to Modern CEO! I’m Stephanie Mehta, CEO and chief content officer of Mansueto Ventures. Each week this newsletter explores inclusive approaches to leadership drawn from conversations with executives and entrepreneurs, and from the pages of Inc. and Fast Company. If you received this newsletter from a friend, you can sign up to get it yourself every Monday morning.

This is the final Modern CEO of the year. Thank you for reading, and happy holidays. See you on January 8, 2024.


At your multigenerational holiday gatherings this week, you may discover wildly varying opinions about the power of free markets. Polls and research consistently show that Gen Z adults are skeptical about capitalism, with a recent Business Insider/YouGov survey showing that 28% of respondents ages 18–26 say they prefer socialism as an economic system, 29% prefer capitalism, and the rest have no opinion or preference. That same study found that 77% of those 78 years old and up preferred capitalism.

Capitalism’s evolution

Young people tend to hold more liberal views that moderate with age, but some experts feel their distrust for capitalism is not a phase. Many young adults, feeling the pinch of student-loan debt and rising living costs, believe free markets aren’t ever going to work in their favor. Indeed, as New York University professor Scott Galloway writes in a recent post: “For the first time in our history, a 30-year-old is not doing as well as his/her parents were at 30. This is a fundamental break and, more disturbing, a function of deliberate decisions, (i.e. social and economic policies that transfer wealth from young to old).”

What, then, becomes of capitalism as an economic and political system? It is a topic I’m eager to explore next month at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Fast Company will host a series of conversations about the future of capitalism at our newsroom inside the Verizon Innovation Lounge. The discussion will be informed by our own global opinion survey on perceptions of conventional capitalism and the concept of stakeholder capitalism, which posits that corporations have an obligation to employees, customers, suppliers, communities, and investors.

Just four years after Business Roundtable embraced stakeholder capitalism, some investors and lawmakers have begun to oppose environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives. Our study and our panel aim to understand what versions of capitalism will ultimately emerge. Will a new generation of consumers and leaders demand a “kinder, gentler” form of business and government, or will a more traditional form of capitalism prevail?

Next-gen capitalism

How do you see capitalism evolving, if at all? Please take and share our survey, or write to me at stephaniemehta@mansueto.com. Your insights will inform our sessions at the World Economic Forum annual meeting as well as future editions of the newsletter. Happy holidays!

Read more: the future of capitalism

Ford Foundation’s Darren Walker says capitalism needs to save itself

The culture wars are coming for your 401(k)

Bill Gates asks if capitalism is in crisis

Economist Mariana Mazzucato wants us to rethink capitalism

By

75 thoughts on “Gen Z distrusts capitalism. Will they prevail in changing the system?”
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