Finance. Feminism’s New Frontier

As published on LinkedIn on March 8th, 2020.

Happy International Women’s Day 2020. For over 100 years, March 8th has been a designated day to call attention to Women’s Rights. For anyone who needs a refresh, this term is meant to include the “right to bodily integrity and autonomy; to be free from sexual violence; to vote; to hold public office; to enter into legal contracts; to have equal rights in family lawto work; to fair wages or equal pay; to have reproductive rights; to own propertyto education.”

In other words, Human Rights.

If you are a regular reader of my posts, you will know that my tradition every March 8th is to call attention to the research that I collect, aggregate, and share that supports ideas, strategies, policies, and practices that will help us move closer to a more gender inclusive world. This year is the biggest and boldest report list yet, and contains 650 studies, organized into 21 different categories, and spanning nearly 200 pages. Categories include agriculture, entrepreneurship, girls, leadership, investing, philanthropy, and much more. You can download that report HERE.

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A relevant question that I’m often asked is, “Jacki, why the heck do you do this?” The three page answer can be found at the opening pages of this document in the section called, “My Story”, but allow me to summarize it for you.

Over 20 years ago, when I began my journey to mobilize all my resources, including my time, treasure, and talent, towards the advancement of women and girls, I began by seeking out research, data, and an understanding that could inform how to do this. For the first few years, while still at Goldman and focused on women’s leadership and advancement, my interest was primarily on practices that improved the hiring, retention, and promotion of women professionals. While on that journey, I started to discover broader categories of research, including one of the earliest corporate produced reports that highlighted the economic impact of empowering females. Proudly, it was actually from my own firm, Goldman Sachs, and was called Women-omics: Buy the Female Economy. This groundbreaking report was written by Kathy Matsui and her team in 1999.

It was then that I began to gather and share.

My personal path led me to depart from Goldman in 2002, and for the next decade; while I began to fund women’s organizations more actively, join non-profit boards, become more active in managing our family’s philanthropic and investment assets; the gathering, or as some call it, obsessing, continued. This journey was summarized in my 17 minute TEDxWomen Talk I gave in 2012, which can be found HERE.

I also championed and co-funded my own research report, titled Women in Fund Management: A Roadmap to Critical Mass and Why It Matters, in partnership with The National Council For Research on Women where I served on the board (much love to their Executive Director at the time, Linda Basch, who remains a friend and mentor to this day). That paper sought to unpack the question of why there are so few women in decision making roles around investment capital, and to provide a list of solutions for the industry. On the back of the great financial crisis of 2008, it was what I could do to try to have a positive impact, aligning my passions for advancing women, the financial markets and systems, and the great march towards gender equality. I do believe that that paper stands the test of time and is still very relevant today. One of the things I would like to do in my next phase, which you will hear about below, is to revive and modernize its insights, and work with the financial industry more broadly to implement them.

It was around this time that I also started to hear the term gender-lens investing, which was being pioneered by two incredible women, Joy Anderson and Jackie Vanderbrug, at the Criterion Institute.

From Criterion – Since our founding in 2002, we’ve created various tools and resources focused on transforming relationships of power in finance. We connect with social change leaders across different sectors, to bring people together to reframe and demonstrate new ways to shape our financial systems.

At the time, these concepts were revolutionary, and I loved it. I immediately connected with Joy and Jackie, provided some funding for their field building work, and championed their insights and approaches. Be sure to check out their website to find some incredible resources, including one of the first guides to gender-lens investing that they created in 2012. And of course, a shout out to Jackie’s book, written in 2016. I had started to employ a gender lens around my portfolio, as well began my own angel investing in support of women entrepreneurs, which is a practice that I continue to this day with a current portfolio of 14 direct investments and multiple funds. If you want to see some of my portfolio companies you can find them here. You can also find robust sections in the current report list on women’s entrepreneurship, the state of the funding for females, impact investing, gender-impact investing, and much more.

I have written a lot about my philanthropic journey over the years, including my role and retirement as the founding President and Co-Founder of Women Moving Millions (WMM), a global community of over 300 people who have given charitable gifts of a million dollars or more for the advancement of gender equality. For over a decade, ending in 2018, my primary work in the world was to be a champion and community builder for gender-lens philanthropy. Through it all, my grounding in research was invaluable as I traveled the world, literally, giving talks and writing about the importance of gender in one’s philanthropic giving. I could not be more proud of the role WMM has, and will continue to play, in mobilizing that kind of capital. But for me, my focus has now shifted. Of course I will continue to give, but going forward, how I will spend my time and talent will be as a champion for Gender-Impact Investing. This will no longer be my side-hustle, but rather a full time commitment!

Why?

Philanthropic capital will never be enough to solve the world’s problems, especially when fighting against traditional investment capital that continues to fund businesses that create and perpetuate the problems that non-profits and governments exist to solve. Financial tools and products have been created and used, bought and sold, without enough accountability for outcomes and impact. In a world increasingly defined by inequality more generally, and income and asset inequality specifically, we simply have to do better. Our very lives depend on it. 

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Therefore, as I release this latest and final version of my BEST REPORTS, which were produced by educational institutions, foundations, think tanks, governmental organizations, and/or corporations that are primarily focused on women and girls and in honor of International Women’s Day, I once again invite you to dig in! It is incalculable how many resources from brilliant and caring people went into each and every included report.

Value it. Use it. Share it. Hold yourself and others accountable for it. 

And… partner with me to see all our financial resources as tools to express our values to help create the world we want to live in. For me that will always mean seeking justice and equity for half of the worlds population that has been left behind, left out, marginalized. The what and the how will change and evolve, but the vision remains the same. A gender inclusive, gender balanced, gender valuing world will be a better world for everyone. Promise.

Here’s to International Women’s Day 2020.

#IWD2020 #financialfeminism #genderequality #genderequity

*A shout out to my dear friend Ruth Ann Harnisch as it relates to the title of this piece. She was the first one to frame finance for me in this way. Thank you.

** And an additional shout out to my friends and family who have supported my journey to use my time, treasure, and talents to make a difference in this world. You know who you are, and I love you!