Finance & Money
Tools, Apps and Gadgets
Show Me the Money!
A new app puts feminism where the money is
Financial feminism? There’s an app for that. Back in February, before CoveyClub officially launched, I sat down with Amy-Willard Cross–a woman with reinvention coursing through her DNA. (Fun fact: Her great-grandmother was a suffragist). Amy is a published writer and an entrepreneur and a proud feminist. She’s now in the app business with Gender Fair, an app–and label–that rates companies on their fairness practices for gender, diversity, philanthropy, and leadership. It basically helps you shop your values–if you value women in power. Amy, a conscientious shopper herself, had an a-ha! moment when she realized she could shop for fair-caught fish but not for businesses that treat women fairly. Here are some highlights from our conversation:
5 mins: Book club recommendation
Research has proven that the better you treat your stakeholders, the more money you make. Read the book, Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose. It’s an eye-opener!
10:30 mins: Reaching gender equality
It’s said that it’ll take 170 years to reach equality, and what you realize as you get older is that money makes our culture move.
11:15 mins: Who’s funding female politicians
There’s a site called Open Secrets where you can see where the money goes in politics. It’s non-partisan and non-profit and it’s organized by industry. Can you guess which industry has funded women the most? None. The top two funders of newly elected congresswomen in 2008 were Act Blue and Emily’s List–they funded 9 of the 11 women who won. It’s only when we take control of money and financing things do we succeed. Women had to create an alternate funding mechanism to get into Congress. The money we put into something is the money we get out. So, if women have 20 percent of the seats in Congress, we do 24 percent of the political giving right now. The number of women venture capitalists is under 8 percent and the amount of venture capital money that goes to women is under 8 percent.
23:56 mins: A criteria for fairness
In order to decide what constitutes a gender-fair company, we used the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles as our main document. We look at four major areas: We look at a company’s leadership, family friendliness, philanthropy for women, and their advertising for women. If I’m going to give my money to a company I want to make sure that they not only have women leaders and good family policies, but I also want to make sure I’m spoken to in a way that I consider ennobling, not demeaning. And I want them to be giving back to my community.
34:31 mins: The truth about women in leadership
It’s very common for companies to put 20 percent of women on their board but have no female top executives. That qualifies as a 0 on our app. It’s very common to see company websites that tout women on their leadership page but if you look her up on the SEC site and you’ll find she’s not one of the top paid people.
40:30 mins: There’s no shame in a for-profit game
Money is the new feminism. Money needs to be in the hands of women–in terms of running businesses and being able to invest in things–that is the new leverage point and we all need to wake up to that.
42:50 mins: Tips for beginning your own reinvention
One of the best ways to go about your own reinvention is to join an established organization–if there’s a group that’s doing something you like, go join that group. Women are making the most interesting organizations these days that are solving problems. A friend of mine runs SheEO–for $1,000 a year you can be part of this community, help fund female-owned business, and get a tax refund. That’s huge! Find an area that you’re passionate about, do some research about the work they do and find someone who needs your help. The hardest thing in the world is trying to tell people they need your help–it’s much better when people say, ‘hey, we’re trying to climb this tree, help us!’
And keep the love going in CoveyClub! Download the Gender Fair app on iTunes and go to GenderFair.com to sign up for biweekly tips on how to spend your money in a gender-fair way. (PS: If you’re ever unsure about a company’s practices, fill out the contact form on the site and Amy will be in touch with you directly.)
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