Friday, October 29, 2010

The Gender Gap In Philanthropy Revealed plus the California Women's Conference

One my fav people on the planet is Lisa Witter. Lisa Witter is a Vice-President at Fenton Communications, working with organizations around strategic communications. She is also the author of "The She Spot: Why Women and The Market for Changing the World and How to Reach Them."

Yesterday she posted this article on Huffington Post on women's philanthropy. As a board member of the Women's Philanthropy Institute ( Indiana University ), I am sure she was instrumental in creating this compelling new report on women's giving. This is a must read study, full of facts and stats and insights. Big thanks to Lisa for highlighting the work of The Women's Funding Network and Women Moving Millions. I serve in a leadership role with both groups and my oh my, many good things happening in the next few months.

"The Women's Philanthropy Institute report is illuminating, not because it proves women are "better" than men because they tend to give more, but because it disrupts conventional wisdom about what a philanthropist looks like in terms of both gender and income." Yes Yes Yes!!!!

The Women's Conference - 2010! I would have loved to have been there but ....... I am however, looking forward to watching many of the sessions. Check out the fantastic speakers !!!!

October has been a HUGE month for conferences and gatherings for Women and Girls!!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fannie and Freddie and $259 billion

On February 25th, 2008 I wrote my first OPED about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (click here from FB)The piece was called Quickfixonomics, and appeared on the Huffington Post. At that time I criticized the government for increasing their loan limits as their balance sheets were already a complete mess. I cannot imagine how much THAT MOVE contributed to the $259 BILLION in total expected losses that were reported yesterday. $259 BILLION. Can you all please think about that number. This is not TARP, this is not WALL STREET, these losses are the result of government creating agencies to make homes more affordable for Americans. I have written dozens of blog entries about these two and it is truly just heartbreaking. Now what? is really the question. The truly sad thing is these losses will likely continue and go higher. They have no way to hedge their portfolio that I can think of against decreasing home prices and defaults. Given they own and guarantee trillions of mortgages, and home prices have decreased on average around 30%, it likely means this number is going to be much, much higher.

Now I really hate playing the blame game but this makes be angry. Years and years ago when Fannie and Freddie were printing money for their shareholders and bringing down mortgage rates it was all good, and so they kept expanding their portfolios because as a publicly traded company, that was what they were suppose to do. By buying trillions of mortgages they 'crowded out' other natural purchasers of bonds, perhaps forcing them in to investment strategies and products that were not optimal. ( think Alt A, subprime mortgages, and the like) I have done this rant before in one of my other dozens of entries on these mortgage giants but every time I see another headline about how much money they have lost I lose it. $259 billion. THIS WAS AVOIDABLE. The responsibility for oversight of these organizations was by people that are still in power today, like Barney Frank. I would argue that if Fannie and Freddie did not exist in the form they did, we would not have had this financial crisis. Were they the only players? No of course not. But go down the path of imagining the financial world, and especially the securitized world, without the likes of them, and I don't think you would end up where we are. Note that no other country has the likes of Fannie and Freddie, and they did not experience a financial crisis like the US did.

$259 billion and rising. It is all just so sad. Regarding this foreclosure mess. My gosh.. I don't even know where to start. I am really worried this will all lead to the next inning of financial market chaos.

For all the blogs I have written on Fannie and Freddie go to my web-site and search Fannie.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Closing the Gender Gap: The Business Case for Organizations, Politics and Society

Last week I had the honor of attending a conference (click here from FB) at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government which brought together over 100 though leaders to discuss the research that supports the positive economic value of gender diversity. It truly was a ‘who’s who’ of researchers in the field, including many of the people we quoted in out “Women in Fund Management” Study. A partial list includes:

Barbara Annis – Author, Leadership and the Sexes

Hannah Riley Bowles – Associate Professor Harvard Kennedy School, extensive research on gender in negotiations and the attainment of leadership positions.

Iris Bohnet – Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, extensive research on the role of gender in decision making.

Robin Ely – Professor at Harvard Business School, research on race and gender relations in organizations.

Morten Huse – Professor of Organization and Management of BI Norwegian School of Management, published widely on the topic of women and diversity on boards of directors.

Herminia Ibarra – Faculty of INCEAD, and expert on professional careers and leadership development.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter – Professor at Harvard Business School and listed as “one of the most powerful women in the world.” ( pictured left)

Mona Lena Krook – Assistant Professor of Political Science, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. An expert in Quotas for women in politics.

Terrance Odean – Hass School of Business and an expert in behavioral economics.

Scott Page – University of Michigan, Professor of Complex Systems, Political Science and Economics.

My takeaways in brief:

- The evidence for investing in women and girls in the developing world is conclusive and compelling. Create and fund programs that provide for economic their opportunity and security.

- Quotas Quotas Quotas. I am absolutely in favor of quotas for boards of directors of publically traded companies. Representatives were at the conference from Norway sharing how almost no one wanted it, but they did it, and it is having very positive impact. ( they have a 40% law) So many other countries are doing it and it is THE THING we can do to create huge positive change.

- The benefit of gender diversity in groups is nuanced. It is not just add women and better outcomes; it is about creating an inclusive environment which leads to better outcomes. This is the main reason why diversity programs have failed to deliver. We are adding women without changing the culture. PS – an inclusive culture is better for men too!

- Change has and always will be about power. Women have so much more then we are using. We continue to be asking permission when we should be demanding change. The research supports that change is good business.

- Overall there is just a huge and significant amount of research that makes the business case for women. I knew that, but this gathering solidified it for me. Even where there was not absolutely conclusive research of a diversity bump, it does not matter. Show me the other research that says conclusively that excluding women or keeping them a minority leads to better outcomes. The fact that in 2010 we still have to PROVE that we deserve a seat of the table is crazy. I mean really?!? Really?

It was a joy to meet the researchers that do the work that fuel my arguments and my passion. Hopefully soon I will have an updated research list of all their work but for now many of their studies are listed or quoted in the resource section of my website.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

SPARK!! Courtney Martin and Geena Davis

I am a mother of a bright, kind, wonderful, beautiful 10 year old girl. (click here from FB) Thankfully she has zero interest in boys, has not asked to get her ears pierced, dresses like a 10 year old should, and has rarely watched anything more that a PG rated movie. That said I worry... I worry about the highly sexualized society we live in, and the pressure on girls to grow up way to fast.

I recently wrote to my friend Courtney Martin, a brilliant young feminist writer, about this issue, begging her to please do something !!!!!! Not surprisingly she said.. "we are" and directed me to SPARK.

"SPARK is both a Summit and a Movement designed to push back against the increasingly sexualized images of girlhood in the media and create room for whole girls and healthy sexuality. SPARK will engage teen girls to be part of the solution rather than to protect them from the problem."

They have an upcoming summit in NY on October 22nd, and I wish I could be there. Their keynote speaker is the most wonderful Geena Davis - Actor ( of course ) but also founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. I have had the opportunity to meet with Geena many times and I will tell you, this woman is the real deal. She is leveraging her celebrity to bring attention to these issues and I lift her up as someone who should inspire as all. If you have not signed up for the Institute's media alerts, do so now. It is an awesome service.

More on Courtney... (pictured)
"Courtney E. Martin is a writer, teacher, and speaker, living in Brooklyn. Her latest book Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists was just published to critical acclaim. Seal Press published her first anthology, co-edited with J. Courtney Sullivan, entitled Click: When We Became Feminists, last spring."

I am on a whirlwind trip to Washington ( for fun), Boston for the "Closing the Gender Gap Conference", then NY for a bunch of meetings. More next week.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

"Who Will Drive the 21st Century Agenda? Women" according to the CEO of Coca-Cola

I love it when men make the business case for women. (click here from FB) "According to Muhtar Ken (CEO of Coca-Cola)t, women already are one of the fastest growing dynamic economic forces in the world today, with assets worth $20 trillion worldwide. In the United States alone, women-owned businesses generate $4 trillion, he said, while women comprise nearly 14% of the entrepreneurs in Thailand, 12% in Argentina, 11% in Brazil and 10% in Chile and Mexico." Click here for the full article and video.

This week I will be attending a two day conference on this very subject in Boston. The event, called "Closing the Gender Gap: The Business Case for Organizations, Politics and Society," is a partnership effort between the Council for Women World Leaders, The World Economic Forum, and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. The list of people speaking is incredible. This movement is getting stronger and stronger and it is all very exciting.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Special on Goldman Sachs on CNBC tonight at 9 pm

Should be interesting....

The Lack of Women in Finance - A RANT!!!!!!

Women in Finance is a hot topic these days. (click here from FB) I can barely keep up with the articles talking about the lack of women on the street, pay disparities, lawsuits and more. Here is the most recent from BLOOMBERG filled with great stats:

- Women in Finance earn 63.9 cents for every dollar men made in 2000.
- Same stat for 2001 - 58.8 cents
- Biggest gap in any of the 13 industries surveyed by the Government Accountability Office
- Number of women in finance, banking and insurance in the US fell by 537,000 between the second quarter of 2007 and the second quarter this year
- Citigroup does not have any women on their executive committee - 19 men

The reasons as to " why so few" are many and the research paper "Women in Fund Management: A Roadmap to Critical Mass and Why it Matters" addresses this in detail ( click here ), but her is more of my personal take:

- Pipeline issues - Fewer women then in math, science and business programs. Fewer women choose to enter the field out of undergrad or graduate school. That said, when the environment is perceived as not "women-friendly", no wonder.

- Gender Discrimination and Bias - Wall Street and finance in general is still very much a 'boys club.' Some firms are better then others, but all the major institutions are governed by men and many of them bring their personal biases to work place and for some, bad behavior. When I began on Wall Street strippers still made visits to the trading floor in celebration of someone's birthday, and thank heaven those days are behind us. That said, it is naive to think that men who think that it is fine to stuff hundred dollar bills in g-strings of naked women at night, don't bring some of that to the workplace with them in terms of how they manage, mentor, co-exist with women in the work place. On the other hand I think some women bring too much of their sexuality in to the workplace and I have seen them use it as a tool to get ahead. It is a delicate balance and one that women, more then men, will have to manage. More relevant is the reality that we are more comfortable with, and confident with people that look and act like ourselves. If you are a man, that means men. In a male dominated work place it takes a huge effort to move away from that tendency and needs to be driven by a deep belief that talent comes in both genders, and all colors. Great new book on this - Laura Liswood "The Loudest Duck: Moving Beyond Diversity While Embracing Differences to Achieve Success in the Workplace."

- Problems with Diversity Initiatives and Programs - Despite a lot of good intentions and good programs, too many managers remain ill-equipped to manage a diverse population. Many firms have pages of programs, but the numbers are not changing and it is time to ask why. Too many firms are just checking the box with programs rather than creating accountability for their outcomes. Evaluate. Measure. Rewards positive outcomes.

- Fear of law-suits and the challenge in firing poor performers that are women and minorities. This is a big issue that is not being talked about. It is a chicken and the egg thing. Because there are so few women and minorites, if they end up not being good at their job ( and that may be because of bad management) it is hard to fire them. The are 'saved' as one manager said to me and this creates huge resentment by the manager and the team. The effect might well be that managers who have experienced this become reluctant to hire women and minorities unless they feel they are a "sure thing." It is just easier to fire men if they are not good, so why not hire just them to begin with? Think about this scenerio. You are a guy with good intentions who tries to hire the best talent for his team. Most of the hires are MBASs with no real experience and thus it is all about perceived potential. You have men and women candidates. They look the same. You had the experience with a prior hire, a woman, who proved not to be cut out for the job but despite your efforts to train her and HR would not allow you to fire her. You were told to pour more and more energy in to her success and it just was not working. Sure if she is great you get pats on the back and you have a great team member, but the downside is there. If you just hired the guy and he was great, great! If he did not work out, bye bye. It is at this level that we must think about as it is at the heart of WHY so few women I believe. We have to think hard about the personal and organizational incentives and disincentives around creating a more diverse workforce.

-Maternity Leave - Let's be real. This is a big issue. If you have a desk full of 20-30 year old women, they are going to have babies. As a manager if your employee is out on maternity leave, it means more work for the rest of team, likely without additional compensation. In an industry where all employees are worked to the bone, this is an issue. Again it is about incentives. Firms need to take a big look at this issue.

- Work-life Balance. This will always be more of an issue for women then men. Women have the kids and the pressures to be a 'good mom' are big. This may be the ultimate reason why we don't get to 50/50. That said, I have met PLENTY of women who choose not to have kids, have husbands with more flexibility and so on. This challenge can be addressed institutionally with more flexibility in roles, but the cultural issues remain. Men in finance have to want to be more then the funders of their families for things to really change. They have to want to be great dads in the same way that I think most women want to be great moms. It means being there for more then weekends and family vacations. I KNOW there are some amazing dads out there who are also senior organizational leaders, so this is a generalization. There is a win/win here for all if corporate America cared more about supporting families.

- CULTURE CULTURE CULTURE - First institutionally. I worked at Goldman Sachs for 14 years. Their culture prides itself on being a meritocracy. That belief is core to their being. I had this experience years ago at a management committee/partnerhship committee offsite on diversity. We were in a small group discussion about why so few women and minorities at the firm. At my table were 9 men and myself. I asked them "look around this room filled with our most senior leaders. Do you think this room is 90% white men because they are the best, the brightest, the hardest working?" They answered YES. They truly believed it. It was not long after that I left the firm. These are not bad people, in fact most of them are GREAT people. They do not know what they do not know and most of them walk around in the world as privileged, powerful, white men. ( I walk around as a privileged white woman)Most of them do not experience exclusion or discrimination and because of it they have no frame of reference for it. They are immune. They do not personally experience discrimination so it is easy for them to assume it does not exist. That classic well it did not happen to ME so I guess it does not happen at all. Catalyst did a GREAT report about getting men engaged in diversity initiatives and they said that the men most likely to be diversity champions have experienced BIAS PERSONALLY!!!

Our broader CULTURE. We still live in a world that values men and boys more then women and girls. This is the issue I will work on for the rest of my life. This manifests itself in a million different ways in our homes, in the media, in the workplace and in the world in general. We have focused a lot of energy towards building up girls self-esteem which is awesome. Increasingly the world recognizes the need to get financial resources in the hands of women, especially in the developed world. Again awesome. But.. we have a long way to go. We are talking about power and control and changing the status quo so it will be hard.

Bottom line is this. We all have to care about creating a workplace, a world, where access and opportunity is available for all. We have to digest that the world is not fair, and if we made it to a place of privilege we OWE it to others that they have their shot too. We have to recognize that gender discrimination is everywhere and we have to look for it so we can eliminate it. I believe with all my heart that a more gender balanced world is in the best interest of all. In that world there will be more women leading institutions and more men free to be in the home being amazing husbands and fathers. Men and women are suppose to be in it together.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Wonder Women TV SERIES!!!

News just in. (click here to read from FB) Wonder Woman is going to be a TV series by David Kelley. Though I want to say IT IS ABOUT TIME, part of me wishes the big scream version would hit first. If you are regular reader you know that I am a huge WW fan. I collect WW memorabilia (note Bday coming up and I can always use more!!!!) and fantasize about being the screenwriter for the eventual movie. (yes I have an idea) A woman has to write the screenplay. With all due respect to so many incredibly talented men, PLEASE GOD let the script be written by a fantastic, amazing, brilliant feminist woman. PLEASE!!!! The very strange thing is that 8 years ago I started thinking about a female superhero story. That story is playing itself out in real life, my life. One day when I decide to write another 'let it rip blog entry' you might just hear all about it. Have a great weekend.