Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 10.34.24 AMPublished on LinkedIn December 15, 2015

This morning I glanced at my calendar and did a double take. December 15th? How did that happen? Are there seriously only 10 more days until Christmas? Something tells me I’m not the only one who did a double take at the calendar this morning. I’m also guessing that like me, many of you haven’t finished your holiday shopping just yet, and if that’s the case, I have a proposal for you. This year, instead of just mindlessly checking items off of a list, why not make a concerted effort to shop your values? Let me explain.

In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it can be easy to forget that every time you spend a dollar, that exchange is an exchange of power. Companies understand this well, and they spend billions of dollars every year trying to convince you to give them your purchasing power. Who are the main shoppers? Women. We make 75-85% of all purchasing decisions, which adds up to trillions of dollars that we could be using to support our values. Your dollars can make or break a company, brand, or consumer item, so what if we all started using this power as a way of supporting our values in life? What if we used our spending dollars to hold companies accountable, and as a means of enacting social change? That’s what shopping your values means, and the possibilities are endless.

For me personally, shopping my values means supporting gender equality and lifting up women and girls around the world. When facing a mile long Christmas gift list, this may seem like a daunting challenge to throw into the mix, but in reality, it’s actually very easy to purchase great gifts, while at the same time knowing you are directly supporting families in places that lack robust economic opportunities. When looking for gifts, look no further than Rising InternationalPlum Alley, Indego Africa, the Akola Project, Made by Survivors, Prosperity Candle, the Nomi Network, Soko, Same Sky, or Shopping for a Change. Each one of these organizations sells incredible handcrafted gifts such as jewellery, clothing, baskets, crafts, tote bags, and silks, all of which have been made by women in impoverished areas all around the world. Many of these organizations also offer the skills training needed for these women to turn their handmade items into artisan businesses, which in turn helps to lift their families out of poverty. My organization, Women Moving Millions, put all of this information together in a guide which you can download here.  Best of all, you can do all of your shopping online without having to brave the horror of a mall this close to Christmas.

That being said, if you do want to head to the mall this Christmas, I can help you there as well, because if you want to turn your shopping into an endorsement of gender equality, there’s an app for that. The Buy Up Index is an app that aims to use spending power as a tool to create a more gender equal world. Large companies of all types are rated on their employee policies, women’s leadership, corporate citizenship, and marketing, and these ratings are combined to create a grade the company receives on gender equality. Brands and companies that have so far earned an “A” grade include Coach, Nike, Gap, and Athleta, and in the future, these “A” brands will be invited to offer users of the app exclusive offers, discounts, and products. So if you want your dollars to have impact, simply pull up the app, compare two brands’ scores, and reward the company with a stronger commitment to gender equality with your spending dollars. You can also sign up online for Buy Up’s exclusive shopping list that lets you shop for equality everyday, and then tweet out your online purchases to #shopyourvalues and #BuyUpIndex. It’s that easy.

I wish I could say that I’m one of those people who manage to have all of their Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving, but that would take a true Christmas miracle. Instead, I’m just going to be grateful that I still have 10 days left and get to work. And for those of you who may be in the same boat as me, don’t worry. There’s thousands of amazing gifts just waiting to be discovered on the websites listed above, and each and every one of them will help women and girls around the world. What a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays.

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