House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNBC on Tuesday that business can play a role in inspiring social change.
The Democrat from California made the comment in an interview on "Mad Money" with Jim Cramer, who asked Pelosi if she agrees with internet entrepreneur Marc Benioff's mantra that "business is the greatest platform for change." Benioff cited it as his reason for buying Time magazine for $190 million a year ago.
"It could be, and in Marc Benioff's case it is," said Pelosi, who represents California's 12th District, which includes San Francisco. "But I do think that there's much more room for us all to work together for social change."
Benioff, founder and co-CEO of San Francisco-based Salesforce.com, is a frequent Democratic Party donor and has made contributions to Pelosi's congressional campaigns in the past, according to the U.S. Federal Election Commission. He has also given money to Republican causes.
Pelosi supported a Benioff-led, controversial tax on big businesses in San Francisco that was intended to combat homelessness in the city. Her husband, Paul Pelosi, is an investor in Salesforce. The two CEOs of the cloud-based customer relationship management firm were also among the executives of nearly 200 companies to sign on to the Business Roundtable's pledge that shareholder value is no longer their top focus for business.
Quoting poet Percy Shelley that the "great instrument of moral good is the imagination," Pelosi said imagination should influence "all aspects of our economy."
"We really do have to address the issue of disparity in income in our country," she continued. She added that it should also be applied to "address the climate crisis in a green way, create new jobs, be No. 1 in the world in green technologies ... but bring everyone along with that as we go down that new path."
Despite the big decline in the U.S. unemployment rate in recent years to its lowest levels in decades, minority families continue to endure a wide wealth gap when compared with white families, according to research from McKinsey & Company. The racial wealth gap between the two groups grew from roughly $100,000 in 1992 to $154,000 in 2016, the August study said.
Additionally, an investment gap exists between black and white families. The report found that 67% of black Americans who made $50,000 or more a year owned stocks or mutual funds, while 86% of white Americans at that same income level owned such assets.
An equal pay gap also persists between men and women. The gap widens when accounting for different subgroups of women.
Disclosure: Cramer's charitable trust owns shares of Salesforce.com.