Although there are great people out there at traditional ‘full-service’ wealth management offices (GS, MS, ML, Citi, JPM, NT….), with a few exceptions, it is about product and execution fees. It is more about getting you into product, then getting you out. Over the past year as I have pulled assets out of many funds and managers because of my growing concern over the financial condition of our economy and system, no one ever said “Jacki, you are making the right decision for you and your family.” At CFG we have spent collectively thousands of hours finding the best of the best, and it is hard. Very hard. A dear friend of mine suggested I read the book Simple but Not Easy
about investing. It is not even simple. We are on a mission to share what we have learned with the world and to help women get financially organized and be financially empowered. We cannot fully delegate the management of our money. Money is a precious resource and a tool to change the world.
Next I rushed off to catch up with a friend, Leslie Bennetts, who wrote a very controversial book called “The Feminine Mistake,” and writes regularly for Vanity Fair and Portfolio Magazine.
I met Leslie years ago… a whole other long story… and I think she is fabulous! She had the courage to go to a place where a lot of us women are not comfortable going and that is to talk about the economic consequences of choices women make. She got blasted for suggesting that women should perhaps think twice about leaving paid work as if it was some complete slap against motherhood. She was not slapping mothers, she was giving us a wake up call. Again the theme, women and economic empowerment. Read the book!
We moved on to talk about the current crisis and what it meant for women. Not good. Would corporate Amercia still be committed to their diversity programs? That is the question that diversity leaders would be gathering to talk about in the morning at the National Council for Research on Women’s Corporate Circle Meeting. I will report back. I could not help but ask her, “Leslie, don’t you think it is time we know what Women’s Leadership might look like?” (a question my friend Marie Wilson always asks). Men have ruled the world in general, forever… and although there have been good times, right now it ain’t looking so good and I for one would really like to know, if women ruled the world what would that be like? (again topic for another newsletter and more below… keep reading)
That bridged very nicely into my next gathering which was at the Earth Institute for a discussion with Jeffrey Sachs about the progess and the challenges in the Millennium Villages. For one hour Jeff spoke, without notes, about what it would likely take to create sustainable development for the poorest of the poor in this world. To Jeff, and to many other leaders in this field, it is about empowering women and girls especially, and men and boys also (my words not his). Jeff did say, women do most of the work in these villages. Women, given the resources, make it happen. Even Goldman Sachs said that with their 10,000 Women Initative. The world of economic development recognizes that it is all about women, yet in this country we have somehow missed that point.
Jeff criticized the past two US administrations for failing
to care about the world’s poor. He said that we give virtually no money to help people, help people, around the world. We put our money where our values are, so take a good look at the US budget and get ready to cry. You must read more about this fabulous man and support his work now more than ever. I am getting ready to write him a big check and I hope you will consider writing him one too. A newsletter on his work is to come.
A subway ride and 5 blocks later I ended up at dinner with three friends in the heart of New York City. My head was exploding and I could not wait for a cosmo. We quickly caught be up with what happened in the financial markets today!!!!!!! Equity markets exploding for various reasons, short covering on Volkswagen (up 425% today) causing substantial damage to hedge funds and investment banks now bank holding companies, dramatic currency moves. To say that what we are experiencing is financial chaos would be an understatement. We launched into a long discussion about personal versus professional money management, the merits of hedge fund compensation structures, the true value of gold and the future of the world economy. Exhausting those topics we moved on to Women’s Leadership. At this point I got a little fired up.
I am going to say something bold, something I have never written down for other eyes to read: As women, in this country, at this moment, and especially as women of means, with resources (time, treasure and talent) we have failed.
We have failed to use our power to make significant change, and by that I mean to make the world a more just and equitable place. Notice I did not say you have failed. I say we have failed. I want to acknowledge that we have tried, and for many of us tried very, very hard, and often with few resources and little help, to try to figure out how to create systematic change. There are so many women I have met, know well and have heard about who are tireless supporters of other women. I honor you all.
Men, collectively, have failed too. FAILED. They have failed to make the world a more just, equitable and safe place and I truly question whether that was even on the agenda. Their failure however comes from a a place of power. The powerful failed to take care of the powerless. As mentioned above, Jeff Sachs spoke today about the failure of the past two administrations to care anything at all about the poorest of the poor. Power. Resources. They had it all, and they failed to use it wisely. It was such a time of economic prosperity in this country, as fake as it might have been, and that period is now over. What an opportunity for leadership wasted.
Men remain the decision makers and where we are at this moment is the responsibility of collective male leadership. Hey, men in power, do you know what women would do right this moment if we were in your shoes? If our collective decisions resulted in the same outcome? We would ask for forgiveness and then we would ask for your help. Invite us to the table damn it or at least open the damn door. Although I am tempted to say move over, the right solution, the possible solution, is really in at least sharing the power. I love good men as much as I love good women, so come on guys, be part a sustainable solution. Try something different.
In my professional life so far (20 yrs) I have seen basically no progress for women, and arguably at this moment of financial and economic crisis, women are virtually absent in the decision making. That is heartbreaking for me. Sure you can name a couple of women, but that is just it, a couple.
Are more women running in senior management positions in investment banks/banks versus when I started in 1988? Nope – none then, none now.
Are more women running major corporations in general? No.
Are more women running this country politically? Not really.
Are women running the money at hedge funds and private equity funds? Nope. A few is not critical mass and it takes critical mass to know what women’s presence and leadership looks and feels like.
So my friends and I talked about that for a while and then I was asked to stop yelling
as I was disturbing the other diners. We then moved on to marriage, motherhood, fertility, and adoption to close out the evening.
As I sit here, now at 1:00 am, typing this completely imperfect entry about my life, I am brought back to many such evenings when I used to work at Goldman Sachs so many years ago. I would come home after a long day, unable to sleep, and get up and write about all that happened that day in my journal. Now I have my blog. Usually, back then, it was because I had spent some ‘couch time’ with a woman/women professional(s) at the firm that needed career advice and I was trying to figure out how to help her, or better yet, how to create an environment at the firm where she did not need help. I tried so hard to create change, or even the possibility of change. My heart was broken at Goldman Sachs, and that is why I left.
It took time with my family, time with my sisters at CFG, time serving on non-profits that serve women and girls, time meeting some of the most fabulous women on the planet that has brought healing. My heart is mended, in fact it is bigger then ever (remember how the Grinch Stole Christmas), and I am ready for a revolution. A leadership revolution.
Leslie asked me today, “Jacki, do you miss working at Goldman Sachs?” Honestly, it took me a while to answer. Although I left for all the right reasons for me, I miss more than anything the platform from which I could hope to really make a difference. The world cares about the platform and it has very specific ideas what that platform looks like. We don’t as a society value the work that women do (back to Leslie Bennetts book). We value money and the pursuit of money as the endgame. Women generally see money as a means to an ends and not the end itself. Even when women do have a platform and money we, as a society, try to knock them down. Why don’t we celebrate women and celebrate their success??? I just don’t get it.
As a perfect example (don’t) pick up this month’s issue of Bloomberg Magazine. The cover story is about Lloyd Blankfein. Inside you will find a fold out containing 41 faces, 40 of them are white males. Granted some of these guys, most of these guys, have done amazing things, but where are the women? Where is Ann Kaplan? Ann, one of the first women partners of Goldman Sachs who created the Women and Financial Education Program at Smith, serves on two corporate boards and teaches at Columbia Business School for FREE. She also serves on the Boards of Columbia University, Columbia School of Business Board of Overseers, Smith College, The American Red Cross, The Museum of Arts & Design, and Women’s World Banking. She is a member of the Committee of 200, the International Women’s Forum, the Economic Club of New York and the Council on Foreign Relations. Ann, who after leaving Goldman created a community of high-net worth women that controls sigfinicant amounts of investable and charitable assets, is not even listed. In her spare time she teaches women around the world the basics of investing and how to get financial organized. Where is she on the list in Bloomberg Magazine? One by one I could list all of the 14 pre-IPO women partners at Goldman and tell you the incredible things they are doing to create a most just an equitable world. We are not spending our time shopping, we are driven, we are serving, we rock.
Don’t get me started. Shame on you Bloomberg. Where is the sidebar that lists so many amazing ex-women of Goldman? If that article is not a testament to our culture and to power, I don’t know what is. This country, the media, our world in general does not look for women leaders.
It is such a tragedy that when we are at the peak of our careers in corporate America, when the world needs us to be that tireless advocate and role model for change because we have the platform that the world values, we have the least time to do it. Too often when we do make the time to do it, we are not rewarded for it by our organizations; dare I say we are often punished. I often thought about writing that book about my experience working for Hank Paulson, John Thain and John Thornton in the executive office of Goldman Sachs. I spent two years working on diversity programs and other human capital management initiatives. Someday…. So sometimes we leave because we do want the time to serve others, not just serve our checkbook, and the world pulls away that platform.
So what needs to change? Not only do women have to more fully claim their space
as credible leaders at all levels and in all places (thank you Chris Grumm
for the language), but we need to change the space to reflect our collective values. We need to be about doing the right thing, not the easy thing. We need to think about long-term solutions, not short-term fixes. We need to care about the common good alongside what is good for me. We have to help and support one another. Bigger. BOLDER
. Go where no woman has gone before. We need to grab our power tools – our skills, our passions, our financial resources, our influence, our networks to make change happen. “Do what you can with what you have where you are.” We need to get ourselves in to the rooms where decisions are made that determine our children’s futures.
Men also need to want it to happen. They need to make it happen. Has the damage done in the worlds economic and financial crisis, $13 trillion of wealth destruction since January of this year, been enough of an event to say, hey, let’s do it differently next time? Is the fact that financial institutions are failing and governments are claiming insolvency enough to wake us up? Is spending hundreds of billions in taxpayers’ hard-earned money to bail a collection of bad decisions enough?
Let the difference next time around be women’s leadership and presence! Let’s start a revolution. Enough is enough. You have had your turn, now move over and make space.
So it is time ladies… claim your space. Let’s see what women’s leadership looks like. And for all the good men in the world that will help make it happen, God bless you.
Good night and thanks for reading.
And to Vikram – my new friend from the train this evening, with who I shared all this, I hope I somehow touched your life too. “Be the difference you want to see in the world” and good luck with your studies.