The Transformative Power of Social Capital

An original cartoon show block capital letters spelling out social capital. People are standing on the letters and helping others to climb up.

As published on LinkedIn as part of the SheMoney newsletter.

What will it take to get more money into the hands of more diverse fund managers and founders? More specifically, women and people of color. This is a question that I have been asking myself for a long, long time. Especially since my now infamous Cheerios article, and yes, I am going to talk about my Cheerios article again. That article (rant?) was inspired by the fact that 0.2% of all VC funding dollars in 2020 went to Black women and Latina founders. When you include the men, Black founders received 0.6% and Latinx founders received 1.7% of all VC funding dollars in 2020. And that is simply not acceptable. Full stop. Period.

It is too soon to know if 2021 as a whole was better for founders of color, but preliminary data shows that for the first five months of 2021, Black founders received 1.4% of all VC funding dollars, more than double the rate in 2020. However, analysts are quick to point out that this increase might only be a temporary boost stemming from the sudden interest in supporting Black-owned businesses in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement revival. And frankly, we should not be touting 1.4% as a success in the first place, because it’s not. Not by any metric. And I am committed to doing what I can to create more inclusive financial systems. Thankfully, I am not alone.

That’s why I would like to introduce you to Claude Grunitzky, the CEO and Managing Partner of The Equity Alliance. The Equity Alliance was founded in 2021 to invest in diverse, emerging venture capital fund managers, with a focus on managers of color and women. They seek to democratize access to capital, and expand opportunities to partner with investors and entrepreneurs who would otherwise remain outside of our collective field of vision. If anyone might have the answer to my question, it would be him.

Continue reading for the interview with Claude and join for a LinkedInLive Conversation tomorrow, see below for details.

A headshot photo of Claude Grunitzky looking straight at the camera.

JZ: Claude, I would love to hear about your background in terms of what brought you to this work at Equity Alliance.

CG: I came to New York two decades ago as a Togolese immigrant with my own vivid American dream. I created TRACE, a Black culture magazine, in my bedroom, and during my first couple of years in New York, I was living hand to mouth, struggling to make ends meet as a young Black entrepreneur who couldn’t woo any investors for my startup, even though there were early signs that the magazine had some traction. Perseverance paid off, however, and Ray McGuire, a prominent Black executive on Wall Street, ended up investing in TRACE. That changed everything for me, and for my team. TRACE magazine eventually became a successful media company that received funding from Goldman Sachs. In addition to the magazine, we launched a TV network and a marketing agency.

I sold that company, and for the past decade I’ve been doing a lot of pro bono work, angel investing, leading workshops at MIT, Harvard, and other academic institutions, and helping young entrepreneurs launch their own social enterprises and impact ventures. In 2015, I launched TRUE Africa, which is a Google-funded media company championing Black innovators all over the world. TRUE Africa gave birth to TRUE Africa University, a remote learning platform currently incubated at MIT’s J-WEL (Jameel-World Education Lab). I have always felt that I could help nurture Africa’s talent; those young people who will accelerate the continent’s development.

In my early days as a media entrepreneur in New York, I met Dick Parsons, back when he was the Chairman and CEO of Time Warner, which was then the world’s largest media company. We immediately hit it off, and I built a relationship with him over a 15 year period. Dick was always a huge inspiration, to me and to many other ambitious Black professionals. Here was an African-American Brooklyn guy who rose through the ranks to become one of the most important corporate leaders in the world, at a time when few Black people were in positions of power. A few months after George Floyd was killed, Dick reached out to me with the idea of the Equity Alliance. He asked if I would be interested in leading a fund that would invest exclusively in people of color and women. That is how the Equity Alliance was started.

JZ: Why this model and this mission?

CG: A study by the Knight Foundation found that, in asset management, a $70 trillion industry, only 1.4% of those assets are managed by diverse-owned firms. As we surveyed the venture landscape, we realized that a critical gap in the ecosystem was institutions that were positioned to put capital in the hands of diverse emerging fund managers. We know that beyond the fundamentals, investors also make decisions based on their lived experiences and problems that they can relate to. (me saying.. heck yes!!!!!) Our model is built to empower diverse fund managers who are fully dedicated to creating additional opportunities for diverse founders. In order to democratize access to capital for diverse founders, we need to drive capital to diverse investors. We also believe it is critical to support emerging fund managers because of the uphill battle they face when raising a first time fund. We invest more than money. We also provide additional support through what we’ve been calling our Social Capital Playbook. By focusing on social capital, we feel we can drive greater access to economic capital beyond the investments we make.

JZ: You have some very well known co-founders and collaborators. How did this group come together?

CG: The vision for the Equity Alliance came from our Chairman and Co-Founder, Dick Parsons. He did a lot of the early ideation with his close friend Ken Lerer, a Managing Partner at Lerer Hippeau, New York’s most active early stage VC firm. Ken Lerer is also a co-founder of the Huffington Post. The other Equity Alliance Founders are Benjamin Lerer and Eric Hippeau, who are also Managing Partners of Lerer Hippeau; Ronald Lauder, Board Member of the Estée Lauder Companies; Eric Zinterhofer, Founding Partner of Searchlight; Scott Kapnick, CEO of HPS Partners; and Michael Novogratz, CEO of Galaxy Investment Partners. We had a lot of heavy hitters back us as soon as we started raising money. One early backer was Schusterman Family Investments as our first anchor investor. They were followed by our two other anchor investors, which are Bank of America and the Ford Foundation.

JZ: You just closed on your first fund, oversubscribed at $28 million, and have already made some first investments. Can you talk about them?

CG: We have made 13 fund investments thus far. One recent fund investment we’re excited about that we made in the Fall is Divergent Capital. Divergent Capital is a deep tech pre-seed firm led by Katie Shea and Lucy Wang. While being sector agnostic, Divergent specializes in the combination of deep tech and innovative business models. Thus, companies with machine learning, artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing, and robotics would be typical targets, however, ed-tech and beauty companies also fit their bill. The fund managers bring several years of investing, operating, and technical experience to the fund. Katie, as an operator turned investor, wears the CMO hat when assessing potential opportunities, while Lucy, a data scientist turned investor, applies the CTO lens.

I think it’s important to highlight that Equity Alliance also has the ability to make direct investments into start-ups, and we have made one direct investment thus far. When it comes to direct investments, we look for standout, mission-aligned companies that have already received investments from one of our funds. We made our first direct investment in the Series A round of Esusu, which had already received investment from two of our portfolio funds; Concrete Rose Capital and Serena Ventures.

Esusu was founded by first-generation Americans Abbey Wemimo (a Nigerian American) and Samir Goel (an Indian American), to address the fact that 45 million Americans, a majority of people of color, have too little history to qualify for a credit score. Esusu automates credit building by reporting monthly rent payments to credit bureaus, boosting credit scores for tenants one rent payment at a time. Esusu sells to property managers, who provide this service to their renters in order to increase retention and to be able to intervene with microloan solutions when the data suggests a renter would benefit from intervention.

Esusu recently announced a nationwide engagement with Freddie Mac, the largest financier of multifamily housing in the United States with over $2 trillion total assets. This collaboration set the stage for Esusu’s most recent Series B round of financing, led by Softbank, where the company achieved unicorn status in January 2022.

JZ: You’ve obviously put together a great team to support Equity Alliance. Can you comment on your efforts to bring in more women as LPs?

CG: Creating a diverse cap table requires intentionality. We wanted our LP base to reflect our values and mission to democratize access to capital. One of our biggest anchor investors is Stacy Schusterman, and as we got to know her and her team, we saw how deeply committed they are to the causes of racial equity and gender equity. Another early investor is Jacqueline Novogratz, who invested personally and not through the Acumen Fund. Her brother, Michael Novogratz, is one of the Equity Alliance’s original investors, and I believe she saw the kind of impact she could make through our fund. We are also seeking to deliver competitive returns for our investors, and feel it is critical for women and people of color to share in that success. To that end, we worked with our lawyers to make the fund available to investors who weren’t “qualified”. It was definitely more work on our end, but as we engaged with women and people of color who would become our LPs, we made it a point to ask them who in their networks might be interested in our efforts. For some of our LPs from this group, this was their first time investing in a fund vehicle like ours, and we took the time to connect authentically to explain what we were seeking to accomplish. If we are going to create a diverse venture ecosystem, it will require these kinds of targeted efforts on the behalf of venture fund managers.

JZ: If you had to sum up why so little funding has yet to find its way into the hands of women and people of color, what would you say?

CG: There are a number of compounding systemic reasons why so little capital flows to women and people of color. One critical piece that we have identified is the lack of social capital that women and people of color have access to.

Our Equity Alliance fund is positioning itself as a prime conduit to meaningful connections between many investors, VC firms, early stage companies, and women and people of color who are looking to gain a foothold in the world of venture capital. Despite being busy leading major firms on Wall Street, in VC or other industries, all of our main investors are leaning in to help various members of the wider Equity Alliance community. People like Scott Kapnick and Eric Zinterhofer have been leaning in for real. In addition to their financial investment, we expect their commitment to invest time and resources into the Equity Alliance’s Social Capital Playbook to become, over time, a major driver of success for underrepresented investors and entrepreneurs who would not benefit from this level of access were it not for the Equity Alliance.

If we don’t increase social capital by growing the size of the pie for people of color and women so that this new social capital leads to more economic capital for the people we set out to empower, we will consider that the Equity Alliance has failed.

Because we know that, traditionally, people of color and women endeavoring to access capital for startups or venture capital firms may be constrained by larger structural issues such as law, policy, racism, sexism, and implicit biases, our approach to living up to ESG promises is driven by the works of the French philosopher Pierre Bourdieu. Bourdieu argued that analyzing the relationship between socio-economic background, natural environment, and access to capital can illustrate hidden structures that facilitate or inhibit an individual’s life. One of our Equity Alliance board members is Renée Richardson Gosline, an African American MIT professor who studies social capital. Renée has been helping us to better understand how Bourdieu’s theories are relevant in 21st century America, which is incredibly polarized and stratified as a society. Particularly, Black people are still at the bottom of American society, and we have to work together to level the playing field.

Given that so many successful investors and institutions have already backed the Equity Alliance, we believe our focus on social capital can ultimately help change power dynamics in America as more people of color and women gain economic capital after gaining social capital.

JZ: What does success look like for you and Equity Alliance?

CG: In the near term, it is critical that the fund managers we support successfully execute on the funds they now operate. For this reason, we strive to create a vibrant community amongst our fund managers that will allow them to learn from one another and leverage our Social Capital Playbook to further the growth of their funds. We chose this strategy because of the potential impact fund managers can have on their underlying portfolio companies. We are excited by the fact that the 20+ funds we invest in will impact the way that 400+ start-ups operate with respect to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Through our educational programming and engagement, we will equip our fund managers with the tools they need to better support the diverse founders within their portfolios.

Our long-term vision is to have each of the fund managers we invest in raise subsequent top-quartile funds, and be in a position to support and make investments in the generation of diverse fund managers that follows them. We believe that our investments can spark a virtuous cycle that builds parity within this crucial financial sector of our economy that drives innovation. We will have succeeded when the community of fund managers we invest in become leaders in the venture capital space, and when our track record serves as evidence that investing in diverse-owned firms is not only impactful in addressing the wealth gap that exists for women and people of color, but can also deliver superior returns. We hope that this evidence ultimately drives further investment by larger institutions in diverse-owned firms, helping to grow the total assets under management (AUM) allocated to these firms.

JZ: So what will it take to get more money into the hands of Black founders?

CG: It probably won’t surprise you that our solution is around empowering Black investors who will, in turn, drive capital to Black founders. In order for our industry to change, we need LPs around the table who are willing to support diverse emerging managers. It will mean taking a more holistic perspective on how to assess a fund manager’s track record beyond traditional institutional investing experience. At the Equity Alliance, we evaluate early investments made out of the fund, angel investing track records, and even relevant industry experience as another lens on the return potential of the funds we invest in.

Beyond our investment in funds, there is an important education piece. We want to provide our fund managers with the tools they need to become better investors. These tools will help them to better support Black founders, most of whom never really had any access to real money.

JZ: Anything else you would like to add?

CG: Look out for Equity Alliance Fund II, because we’ve got big plans.

JZ: Thank you Claude. What a powerful interview and big !!!!!! from me to all your answers. It should be no surprise to the readers that I too invested in Equity Alliance and will look forward to championing you, your team, your managers, and your founders. Count me in!

An event banner announcing the LinkedIn Live event, with headshots of Jacki and Claude.

Join Jacki Zehner and Claude Grunitzky, Founder of Equity Alliance, for a live conversation about the current landscape of venture capital, the untapped power of social capital, and the impact possible in supporting diverse fund managers and founders.

WTF? Invest in Women and BIPOC Founders, now.

A cartoon of a man sitting a top a huge mountain of Cheerios, while two women look at their three little Cheerios. One woman is looking at the man with the thought bubble "WTF?"
Original Cartoon by Liza Donnelly

As published on LinkedIn on June 15th, 2021.

Welcome to SheInvests Newsletter #10.

WTF? In our family it means, what the fudge? That said, the other meaning is appropriate too. Really appropriate. The above drawing, courtesy of my ongoing collaboration with the incredible Liza Donnelly, shows the percentage of venture capital dollars, represented by Cheerios, going to male founders versus female founders. I wrote about these numbers and what it means in great detail in SheInvests #3, the now infamous Cheerios piece. This month, I asked Liza to draw what I talked about in that piece, and with your help, we want to make this image ubiquitous. The image above represents the gross inequity of capital flowing to women, especially women of color, and it is time that we fully acknowledge the far-ranging effects of biased capital, and more importantly, do something about it.

The ‘something’ I am specifically championing is to invest in early-stage private equity funds started by women and BIPOC* founders. And if you are reading this and are thinking, “This article is not for me because I don’t have enough money to invest in funds”, I urge you to keep reading. Funds are successful because the companies they invest in are successful, and that happens when we purchase or advocate for the purchase of the products and services of the funded companies. This means we all have a role to play in democratizing access to capital. We all have the power, through our investing, spending, giving, and advocacy, to shift the financial and economic outcomes for ourselves and for others. In fact, that is what we are doing all day, every day, without even knowing it.

If you already read the Cheerios article, thank you. But if you haven’t, let me briefly catch you up. That newsletter was inspired by the latest data that showed that the most women founders have ever received in a given year was just 2.8% of all venture capital dollars. For Black and Latina founders, that percentage was 0.2%. Put another way, male founders received 97.2% of venture capital dollars. It has been argued that women are less likely to start the types of businesses that attract VC capital, blah blah blah… But even if that is partially true, it is not 97.2% true. Furthermore, as an active angel investor myself, as well as an active early-stage fund investor, I know that the deal flow is robust from women and BIPOC founders. It just is.

A photo of a pile of Cheerios on a counter. Three Cheerios are separated for women, a small pile of crumbs is separated for WOC, and the rest are for men.

This is all incredibly important, because when businesses receive an influx of capital, they generally hire people, often including equity as part of the compensation. This grows the wealth of not only the founders, but those they hire as well. And given that Black and brown founders are more likely to hire Black and brown employees, that wealth is passed on. It is the wealth effect that has served white men forever. But to change the output, you need to change the input. Of course, this is the point in the paragraph where something in me wants to type – yes there are wonderful white men who get money and instinctively care about diversifying their employee base and their board, but the numbers also say that most do not. In this world we live in, we give way too much credit for good intentions, especially as it relates to diversity and inclusion. That’s why I am advocating for following the money trail to better understand commitment to values, not just words.

Another highlight from my Cheerios piece that is worth pulling in here are the numbers related to who makes the decisions regarding where those VC dollars go:

  • 5.6% of all VC firms in the US are women-led, and only 2.1% of VC firms are founded by a woman of color.
  • 4.9% of all VC partners in the US are women, and only 2.4% of all VC partners are Founding female partners.
  • 73% of all women-led VC firms were founded in the last 5 years (since 2015).
  • 23% of women-led firms are currently raising their first fund, and 44% are deploying Fund I.
  • 90% of all women-led funds are considered emerging managers.

Why does this matter SO SO SO much? Because people who share demographics in common, including gender, race, ethnicity, etc., are more likely to invest in people who share those same demographics. If we want to broaden who gets the capital, we simply have to broaden who makes the decisions about where that capital goes. For example, do you watch Shark Tank? I do, a lot, and I both love it and absolutely hate it for a lot of reasons that could probably fill a whole other newsletter. But what I specifically want to note is how often the Sharks opt-in, or opt-out, because the businesses are “not in their wheelhouse”, or because they “cannot relate to the business as a ___”. I admit I do not know the actual statistics from the show, but I can guarantee the women sharks are way more likely to fund the women-founded businesses, and vice versa. Additionally, I’m willing to bet that the Black sharks are more likely to fund the Black founders, etc. If someone has data on this, please share. But regardless, if you assume that human nature is human nature, then in order to change who gets the money, you need to change who is allocating it.

This has been my work (with help!) for the past several months; to identify early-stage funds founded by managers (General Partners / GPs) who are women and people of color, with an emphasis on identifying Black women GPs. I believe that as an investor, and a white woman with capital who wants to align my money with a gender and racial impact lens, funding these Black and brown women is the single, most impactful interventions/investments I can make. Let me explain further, building on the above, after giving you a few more statistics.

In this recent (and fantastic!) article by Stephanie Cohn Rupp of Veris Wealth Partners, she cites these statistics as it relates to the financial health of Black American families:

  • Research from the Federal Reserve Bank at St. Louis showed that between 1992 and 2016 college-educated white Americans saw their wealth increase by 96% while college-educated Black Americans saw their wealth fall by 10%.
  • The Brookings Institute found that the net worth of a typical white family in the United States is 10 times greater than the average net worth of a Black family.
  • Only 44% of Black households own their homes compared to 73.7% of white families.

We all need to care about this. Recognizing that people of a certain demographic, in this case, Black Americans, are systematically financially disadvantaged should not immediately result in the “and what about”s? Yes, we also need to care about improving the well-being of all financially disadvantaged people, but we can also focus on one demographic in terms of interventions and solutions. I simply do not believe in a zero-sum game and neither should you. However, just take a moment to notice how often, especially in today’s media, we are being sold this belief. Don’t believe it. If we want to improve the stats above and close the gap by bringing the wellbeing of all Black Americans up, one powerful strategy is to invest in Black Fund Managers, who in turn invest in Black founders, who in turn hire Black employees, which improves the economic well being of Black families, Black communities, and so on.

In-game theory and economic theory, a zero-sum game is a mathematical representation of a situation in which an advantage that is won by one of two sides is lost by the other. If the total gains of the participants are added up, and the total losses are subtracted, they will sum to zero.

Sidebar: I have this habit of seeding future articles in current ones, so let me plant this seed. Philanthropy and charitable dollars, even when combined with progressive policies, will never be enough to bring low-income, low wealth people into a place where they have the conditions to flourish. We all know this, and yet we continue to act like it will. We place too much hope in philanthropy, and I believe wealthy white women do this the most. We do it by focussing the vast majority of our time and money on charitable versus non-charitable activities. I certainly did this for years, which is why now, I am shifting so much attention to aligning my investment capital with my values. It is also why I wrote this piece about Melinda French Gates, Laurene Powell Jobs, and MacKenzie Scott. As I stated at the end of that newsletter, if and when women of the world align their VAST financial and investment resources with the goal of advancing gender and racial equity, things would change so fast our heads would spin. 

Cartoon drawings of Melinda French Gates, Laurene Powell Jobs, and MacKenzie Scott
Original Drawing by Liza Donnelly for SheInvests

But back to the stats and my theory of change for investing in Black and brown women GPs. This is, after all, the SheINVESTS newsletter. So let’s also take a minute to look at this from an investment perspective. When it comes to my own personal investment philosophy, in addition to always thinking about the good my money can do (I am, after all, an impact-driven investor), I also put my investment dollars to work in opportunities that I believe can generate substantial returns. Not because I’m necessarily determined to add to my wealth with these investments (although if that’s one of your goals, that’s awesome too!), but for the following reasons:

  1. Impact will be created at scale when solutions work at scale. Which means that an impact-focused company, like HelloAlice, one of my investments that also happens to be tackling racial disparities in business, will be most effective when it is most successful. And the byproduct of successful businesses (for investors) is a nice return. And, P.S. HelloAlice, whose cofounder Carolyn Rodz is Latina, just raised $21 million in a Series B!
  2. Those nice returns allow me to amplify my impact. When my investments are successful, that increases the amount of capital I can wield for good, whether it’s through philanthropy or more impact investments.

So with that investment philosophy in mind, let’s get back to the topic at hand – investing in Black women. As Gayle Jennings O’Byrne, one of the fund managers I’ve recently invested in (more about Gayle and the WOCstar fund below!) often says, investing in women of color provides “the biggest arbitrage opportunity in venture investing.” Not only do companies led by diverse teams outperform when it comes to higher returns (30% higher by some estimates, in fact), but they are also best positioned to capitalize on changing trends and the growing purchasing power of both women and communities of color. The spending power of multicultural communities is already $3.9T, and is growing rapidly as multicultural populations shift toward the majority. Not to mention the fact that women control 85% of consumer spending. Investors who fail to recognize the importance of these trends are not only missing out on a massive economic opportunity, but an impact one as well.

Furthermore, investing in black women is good business for everyone. A recent reportby Goldman Sachs found that closing the earnings gap for Black women could create up to 1.7 million jobs and raise the annual GDP by $450B. Not to mention all of the other associated benefits that come from economic equity more broadly, including clean energy, better health outcomes, better access to education. Goldman felt so strongly that they created their One Million Black Women Initiative “which will commit $10 billion in direct investment capital and $100 million in philanthropic support to address the dual disproportionate gender and racial biases that Black women have faced for generations which have only been exacerbated by the pandemic”. The bottom line is that investing in Black women represents a massive opportunity to generate BOTH impact and alpha.

As I’ve mentioned in recent newsletters, over the past few months I have been working with Rose Maizner to find and vet funds led by women and women of color. So far, we have made investments in two outstanding funds: the WOCstar Fund led by Gayle and Pialy Aditya, and The 22 Fund led by Tracy Gray. We decided to invest in these funds for a myriad of reasons and one of the challenges we are trying to solve is how to share due diligence efforts to make investing in funds easier. One thing we know for sure, these two women are amazing.

A close of headshot photo of Gayle Jennings O'ByrneWith an impressive background as a tech investor, entrepreneur, and former finance executive, Gayle (pictured to the right) has more than 20 years of experience investing in and supporting the women of color tech ecosystem. During her 17 year tenure with JPMorgan, she had the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the space via co-investment, as well as build up an impressive bench of skills that have served her well as an investor, including deep experience with mergers and acquisitions, due diligence, valuation, and contract negotiations.

Close up photo of Tracy GrayAnd then there’s Tracy (pictured to the left), who is an actual rocket scientist, an impact and cleantech/environmental justice investor, and a long-time champion of investing in overlooked and underestimated teams and technologies. She’s also an expert in international business and economic development policy, and, as a Senior Advisor to the Mayor, she helped to lead the City of Los Angeles’s economic recovery efforts post-Recession by creating a widely respected and replicated plan rooted in supporting manufacturing and export-oriented local businesses.

In short, Tracy and Gayle bring decades of experience to the table, and have crafted thoughtful, meaningful investment theses that reflect their unique domain expertise. They both have countless skills t

hat they have developed over the years, all of which are critical to helping founders to not just successfully scale, but to create as much impact and value as possible along the way. And, in addition to the fact that they are both incredibly qualified and experienced fund managers, they have also been leading voices in the effort to challenge and redesign the systems that have perpetuated such staggering inequality when it comes to the allocation of capital, whether it’s helping us to understand the complicity of foundations in widening the wealth gap, or underscoring the importance of investing in Black investors. As Tracy was recently told by a potential institutional investor, she hasn’t spent the past few years just fundraising. She’s spent them educating. Educating investors about the opportunity. About what is really risk and what is actually just bias or assumption. About understanding the difference between impact-washing and lip service and actually championing–and funding–the women who are paving the way towards a more equitable investment landscape.

This Thursday, June 17th, I will be hosting a LinkedIn Live with Tracy and Gayle, where we will be talking about this theory of change and the importance of investing with an intersectional gender lens. We will be discussing how catalyzing capital toward diverse fund managers creates immense social and economic impact, as well as how these opportunities have been shown to generate outstanding financial returns, often outperforming others in their asset class. I hope you will join us at 12PM ET on Thursday, as I know it will be an incredible and illuminating conversation. AND, it will be my very FIRST LinkedIn Live event! If you click through here, you can push the ‘REMIND ME’ button and you will receive a notification when the event goes live.

A promotional poster for the event featuring headshots of Jacki, Gayle, and Tracy

In the past several years, there has been an unprecedented reckoning around gender and racial justice in the United States and the world at large. And yet, even with companies and individuals paying tremendous amounts of lip service to these movements, when it comes to the world of finance, very little has changed, or in some cases, has gotten worse. But that can change, especially when it comes to investment dollars.

So I invite you to take another look at the image at the top of this article. That image should offend you. Well, actually, it should enrage you, but instead of getting angry, let’s just fix this. Because let’s be absolutely clear. We can fix this. Right now. Folks, this is not a zero-sum game world we are living in. I do not believe that, and neither should you.


This article could be so much longer if I more fully referenced all the people and resources I want to, but below are some links to go deeper.

  • Tracy wrote a fantastic article for the Stanford Social Innovation Review, that outlines clear action steps for how to support diverse fund managers.
  • GenderSmart recently published a terrific guide, full of tools and resources, for investors looking to support first-time and diverse fund managers. This is a tool you can use, and also give to your investment advisor!
  • The Gender Smart community in partnership with Wharton created Project Sage which tracks Venture Capital, Private Equity, and Private Debt with a Gender Lens. This document contains lists of funds in all these categories!!! Truly a spectacular resource for anyone looking to invest.
  • My racial equity piece (SheInvests #2) has dozens of resources related to investing with a racial lens. I pulled most of them from the GenderSmart community. Thank you!
  • A great article by Stephanie Cohn Rupp of Veris Wealth Partners titled “There is a Strong Business Case for Racial Equity, But Investors Must Look Beyond the Data”
  • As always, my 650 top reports list to support Gender Lens Investing, Giving, and Action. There is not only SO MUCH data embedded in all of these studies but so many strategies as well.
  • Just released research stating that “the U.S. economy lost out on more than $507 billion in economic productivity as the attainment gap between Black and white women has widened since 1960, according to new analysis from S&P Global (NYSE: SPGI)”.

Please feel free to post other resources in the comment section.

*BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.

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