Thursday, April 28, 2011

"Power Unused Is Power Useless" - A Case For Gender Lens Investing

"Gender Lens Investing." This is the piece I have been wanting to write forever, and I thought this new site for Women Investment Advisors would be a great place to launch it! Thank you to Ruthie Ackerman for the encouragement. I hope to write a lot more about this topic and will be building out my web-site to hold more information related to how we can use our money power to drive positive change.

"Non-profit dollars will never be enough to solve the complex issues and negative outcomes associated with gender inequality. By thinking about gender when investing, we can use the markets to narrow the gender gap which, as studies show, has the additional benefit of fostering economic growth and creating jobs. Moreover, many government, economic and business entities have showered us with research saying that, in addition to positive economic and social implications, increased political stability is also highly correlated to the status of women and girls. In other words, greater gender equality results in greater economic and human security."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kathy LeMay featured in CURVE Magazine

Sometimes I pull out a piece of paper and just start writing down everything I am thankful for. I usually do this when I am feeling ( or acting) especially selfish, or angry, or sad, or disappointed, or impatient. Inevitably the name Kathy LeMay appears on that list because Kathy is one special lady. If you read this article, you will begin to get a sense of why.

Why do I love this woman so much? One of the reasons is that she has this way of helping me be my best self. She helps me believe that anything is possible and that I, little me, can really make a difference in this world. She does this for so many. Besides that she is just brilliant, loving, generous, and a person who shows up!

Last year her first book came out called "The Generosity Plan: Sharing your Time, Treasure and Talent to Change the World." Buy it. Give it. Have Kathy the rock star public speaker come talk at your gathering or event. Go Kathy!

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Last night we sat down with our two children, ages 11 and 13, for a family movie night. We were cruising through titles and stopped dead at "PAY IT FORWARD," one my all time favorites that we had not yet watched as a family due to mature content. It was only after it ended when we started to discuss it that I realized what a perfect film it was for the EASTER weekend. EASTER is all about "Paying it Forward" and what a world we would have if everyone acted about in it.

First the movie. IMDB sums the movie up like this. "A young boy attempts to make the world a better place after his teacher gives him that chance." More specifically the new, maimed, social studies teacher asks his 7th grade students to take on this project for the year, to come up with a NEW idea how to make the world better. Our lead character, an 11 year old boy of an alcoholic mother and abusive father, comes up with the "pay it forward" concept and puts it in to action. For those unfamiliar with the film it means to do something hard and incredibly generous for someone else that likely does not deserve it. Our boy Trevor helps a drug addicted, homeless man get a fresh start, tries to help his mother get off alcohol and stay away from the returning abusive husband, he connects deeply with the very wounded social studies teacher and works to reconnect him to the world, and to love, and more. As he plot unfolds he thinks his idea has failed because the short term outcomes do not match his expectations.

What he does not know until the end of the film is that HE has started a movement. A jaded news paper reporter hundreds of miles away is the recipient of one of these random acts of extreme generosity and when told about 'pay it forward' feels compelled to track the source down. Over the course of the film we discover many lives touched by this one idea and 3 single acts of our boy Trevor. He has changed the world. He has succeeded and now, because of this reporter he knows it.

Is it to bad we don't have a reporter tracking our lives to see the outcomes of our actions or rather, is that a good thing? Well as a Christian I believe I do have that reporter. I believe that every thing I have done and will do in my lifetime I will have to account for. Until I became a Christian the thought of that freaked me out, and was so scary that it kept me at a distance from my faith, but not anymore.

There was a moment many, many years ago when I chose to share with a friend my deepest secret that I had been too ashamed to tell anyone that I discovered GRACE. With tears pouring from my eyes, I acknowledged that I, like these incredibly damaged adults in this movie, was not perfect and was in need of forgiveness and acceptance. I needed to not only be forgiven, but forgive myself for the mistakes I had made ( and continue to make ) and that for me, it was my faith in Jesus Christ that allowed both to happen. That moment changed my life as it was the moment I chose to accept the GRACE that has been offered to me, and is in fact offered to everyone.

"Pay it forward" is not a Christian film per se but within it is the message at the heart of Christianity, and that is that we all deserve to be loved unconditionally and have the opportunity for forgiveness such that we can aspire to become our best selves every single day. Being your best self means not living just for you, but living to serve others. Living to 'pay it forward." That is what makes it such a perfect fill for Easter.

But this movie is for everyone. Regardless whether you believe in God or not, isn't this what you aspire to do? Isn't this what makes the world a better place? I love that this film NAMED IT and put it in a conceptual framework to attempt to have a positive impact on individual and collective behavior. It is the best film I have every seen that builds a narrative around a model of how change happens. ( A Theory of Change - frame it, people get it, people change their behavior on an individual then broader scale, it becomes part of our culture and institutions)

(On Monday I am having an article published that I have been thinking about for years. This article is about "Gender Lens Investing" and will it frame how we can use our for profit investment clout to help advance women and girls. Will behavior change follow? I hope so...)

When the teacher gave these children the assignment and asked them what they thought about it they all said it was stupid, dumb, ridiculous as they did not see themselves as powerful. They did not see themselves as having the POSSIBILITY to positively impact the world at large. Wow. Ask you child this question. Ask the neighbors'. Ask anyone. Then discuss it. It is about paying it forward, it is about living the most generous and loving life we are capable of and at the same time, forgiving ourselves when we are far from perfect. In this film 11 year old Trevor shows his family, his community, that everyone can make a difference.

"Be the Change you want to see in the World." Happy Easter.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Goldman's Research on Women

There are a lot of reasons not to like Goldman Sachs right now (including that they only have one board member that is a woman) , but let me give you a BIG positive. For years now Goldman has been producing cutting edge research on women and the economy. They have highlighted the growing economic power of women in terms of their collective purchasing power as well as how a country will be better off on multiple fronts by working to narrow the gender gap. Please find below a link to their reports and a synopsis. Thanks to Goldman for this compelling reserach.

"Australia's Hidden Resource: The Economic Case For Increasing Female Participation" November 30, 2009

-An alternative source of highly educated labour is already at Australia's disposal and with the right set of policy options this pool of labour can be unlocked. Closing the gap between male and female employment rates would have important implications for the Australian economy. The authors estimate that closing this gap would boost the level of Australian GDP by 11%. Indeed, much progress in closing this gap has already occurred over the past 30 years with the rise in the female employment rate since 1974 boosting economic activity by 22%. In this respect, Australia is only 2/3rds of the way to unlocking the hidden value of the female labour pool.

"Power of the Purse: Gender Equality and Middle-Class Spending" August 5, 2009

-In the BRICs and N-11 countries, gender gaps in education, employment, health and political representation are narrowing. At the same time, laws and social norms that have discriminated against women are shifting in many countries.Together, these factors are giving women greater decision-making power. Improving gender equality coincides with the rapid growth of the “global middle class.” Sectors likely to benefit from women’s growing buying power include food, healthcare, education, childcare, apparel, consumer durables and financial services.

-The Chinese proverb that ‘women hold up half the sky' has long been more aspiration than fact. In developed and developing countries alike, gender gaps persist in education, health, work, wages and political participation. Education is key to gender equality. Educating girls and women leads to higher wages; a greater likelihood of working outside the home; lower fertility; reduced maternal and child mortality; and better health and education. The impact is felt not only in women’s lifetimes, but also in the health, education and productivity of future generations.

"Womenomics: Japan's Hidden Asset" October 2005

-Don’t underestimate the power of the purse. Higher female participation in the workforce can help mitigate some of Japan’s demographic pressures and raise the long-term trend growth rate. Womenomics is likely to become a secular investment theme, and we identify potential beneficiaries.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Equal Pay Day

April 12th was "Equal Pay Day" and I wanted to share this thoughtful piece written by Linda Basch, President of the National Council for Research on Women. I remain a Board Member Emeriti of NCRW and partnered with Linda to write the "Women In Fund Management Report" in 2009.

"On Equal Pay Day -- April 12th -- it's time to stop using our economic doldrums as an excuse for indifference and inaction. For how many more years are we going to dutifully report on the stagnant gender wage gap? Women who work full-time, year-round are still paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts or $10,622 less per year in female median earnings, a gap that yawns wider for women of color and older women [National Women's Law Center, NWLC]. "

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Women, Money, and Power...and superheros

My most perfect and amazing visit to NYC continued yesterday. We ( me, my 11 year old daughter and au pair/assistant Mandy ) started the day on Wall Street. I walked with Allie on the exact path I walked thousands of times from the subway to the entrance of 85 BROAD street. I remembered so vividly 23 years ago when I made my way for the very first time, having arrived hours early for day one as an analyst and I sat outside on the benches, shaking, unable to really comprehend how I went from a very small town in Canada to NYC. I decided to film a little video clip in front of the now abandoned headquarters for Goldman Sachs which I will post when I return. Has so much changed for women on Wall Street? Sadly, no.

We did out little tour of downtown including the NY Stock Exchange, the Fed, and of course a picture with the bull, before heading back uptown for lunch, and shopping. I slid in a meeting for Women Moving Millions before attending the SOFA Opening night art show with my buddy and collector Ann Kaplan, a board member of the Museum of ART and Design. It is official. I am a collector of superhero art. The very first piece that caught my attention as I walked in the building was a huge, 68 by48, comic book/paper piece. The title - Where are our heros now? A close up of the piece is pictured and it is made entirely of pieces cut from comic books. A sign you might ask? YES, absolutely. The world needs superheros and darn it I am going to work on that superhero screenplay this year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But the concept is bigger then that. The concept for me is that everyone can be a superhero. Everyone and anyone can and should aspire to be the best they can be and it is in living to that potential that we will create a more just and equitable world for all. "Be the change you want to see in the world."

So that leads me in to dinner where the conversation was about women using their power. My dinner companions were two of the most fabulous women - Author Leslie Bennetts ( of The Feminine Mistake and a contributing editor for Vanity Fair) and Katharine Henderson, President of Auburn Seminary and author of God's Troublemakers - How Women of Faith are Changing the World. I have to run off to a 3 hour Women Moving Millions meeting so cannot write fully about it now BUT let me say this - it is about empowerment. It is about us all developing confidence in their own capacities to make a difference. ( the art piece???) More specifically it is about our economic empowerment meaning that we choose to use our financial resources more fully to drive the change we want to see. Ponder that today.... Another day in New York - yeah me!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Perfect Day...The Sackler Center, Carlo's Bakery, WICKED..

What a day, what a week, what a year, what a ......

Every single part of this day I want to remember. It started off with a breakfast with two of the most amazing women - Elizabeth Sackler, who founded the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art and Ann Kaplan, a dear friend and spectacular human being.

I am honored to serve on the Advisory Board for the center as it has expanded the possibilities for women artists and will continue to do so. If you have not yet visited the center in Brooklyn or browsed there web-site, you must. It was very fitting that the first time I visited the museum was for our celebratory event for Women Moving Millions in 2009 where we recreated The Dinner Party to honor women who were making history with their collective giving. At the time I did not know Elizabeth but let me tell you, she is a force of nature. Our conversation, not surprisingly, was about philanthropy and in particular the power of putting your name on something. Many studies have shown that women are much more likely to give anonymously which makes the impact of women's giving more invisible. Many women I have spoken to who have stepped up to NAME IT do so, not because it is about them, but because it is heightens the attention and awareness of the cause they are supporting. They are using and leveraging their social capital for GOOD! Love it.

Breakfast was followed by a very special meeting and all I can really say is that it could be a dream come true. If 'it' happens I want to be able to look back at this entry and say.. that was the day.

Right after my meeting I rushed to meet my daughter for a trip to Hoboken to visit Carlo's Bakery. Our whole family loves "The Cake Boss" and we wanted to pay Buddy a visit. We waited outside for our turn to go in and was so excited that although Buddy was in Florida many of his family members were there including Mary, his sister. We heard her barking orders, swiftly moving in and out and Allie said "she seemed exactly like she does on TV." Very exciting. Post bakery we went to Herald Square, The Times Square TOYS R US, the M and M Store, and finally to the play WICKED which is a family favorite. At 10:30 we were grabbing a slice of PIZZA before back to our fabulous pad. Although I lived in and around New York for over 20 years, coming back as a visitor experiencing it with my daughter is truly special. It was a perfect day.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Say NO to All Male Corporate Boards! - HUFFPO

It was an honor to co-write this oped with Joe Keefe, CEO of PAX World Funds. There is so much discussion about the lack of women on corporate boards, and here is something YOU can do to take action. Vote your proxy! PAX is leading the way in this effort and also writing letters to CEOs with all male boards putting forth the evidence that more diverse boards lead to better decision making. Thank you Joe I will hope others will follow - institutional investors, investment advisors and individuals!!

For more information on PAX Click here.

Women Moving Millions - IMPACT-MEDIA-VOICE

What an amazing day! I am honored to be Co-Chair of Women Moving Millions, a philanthropic initiative that supports and encourages million dollar gifts to organizations and projects to advance women and girls around the world. Today we have a FULL day retreat in New York and what a day it was.

The agenda was jam packed and included a discussion on "Collective Impact", a visit by the acclaimed activist and artist Eve Ensler (just announced today would be the recipient of a special TONY award ) , and an afternoon discussion on how media can be used to advance social change. Lisa Witter and Pat Mitchell lead the afternoon discussion, ( pictured right) providing amazing insights on the power of media. Lisa has been working on the action campaign around "Half The Sky" and boy oh boy do we have a lot to look forward to.

Tomorrow it is the Women's Funding Network Conference in Brooklyn and the White House Project's Epic Award. GIRL POWER!

Monday, April 4, 2011

"A Club for the Women Atop the Ladder" - NYT

I hope you caught a great article by Pamela Ryckman called "A Club for the Women Atop the Ladder" featured on the front page of the Sunday NY Times Business Section yesterday. The article was primarily about a very cool women's club called the Belizean Grove . Though I am not a member, many of my friends are, and it is a very interesting group indeed. The article describes how through this network women help each other become more successful personally, and hopefully as a movement as well. That is my challenge to this group, to figure out how they can leverage their collective power for maximum impact.

That is exactly what we are thinking about as group of funders of women and girls. I am heading to NY tomorrow for a Women Moving Millions gathering where, with the most fantastic Mayree Clark, we will be leading a discussion on how we can have greater collective impact. Our event is at capacity and in addition to our presentation, we will hear from many experts on how media can be used to advance social change. Guest speakers include Eve Ensler, Pat Mitchell, Gloria Steinem, Jennifer Buffett, Lisa Witter, Dan Cogan, Geralyn Dreyfous and more.

For the following three days I will be attending the Women's Funding Network Conference in Brooklyn, where over 500 people from around the world will be gathering under the umbrella of this powerful global network. The panel I am most excited about is on Friday, where I will be speaking on the topic of investing for gender equality. I hope to hit this topic in an interview with Bloomberg Television to be taped on Thursday which will likely air Friday morning.

A big thanks to Pamela for mentioning Learnvest in this article. If you have not yet signed up for their daily updates, or financial boot-camp, please do. Pictured above is Founder Alexa Von Tobel, investor and best bud Ann Kaplan, and moi!

Have a great week and I hope to blog from the road.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Women and Wall Street - We Need them!

Did you know the number of women working on Wall Street has decreased dramatically? An article back in September in the Wall Street Journal stated that "in the past 10 years, 141,000 women, or 2.6% of female workers in finance left the industry.The ranks of men grew by 389,000 in that period, or 9.6%." New research released this past week says that "less than 5% of the most senior executives at investment banks are women." This is a serious issue that we need to care more about. Let me tell you why.

There is a large amount of research, summarized well by Nicholas Kristof in this article , and in this research report by the National Council For Research on Women, that having women present in critical mass in leadership and decision making positions could lead to better outcomes.

We just went through a massive financial crisis, one characterized by excessive risk taking and greed, led my men, and now we have even more of the same in decision making positions. Please someone show me the list ( and it should be long ) of senior people who lost there jobs over this? Please someone give me examples of firms that said you know we messed up, we want to be better next time, and we are going to shake up our leadership teams, think out of the box, add talented, diverse people because hey, we don't want this to happen again. Now the numbers show not only is this not true, but we are moving even more in the direction of homogeneity.

Every time I write something like this I get a whole bunch of nasty responses saying I am out to lunch, that women are as greedy as men, that women should not be favored, blah blah blah.... I say PROVE IT. Find an example of a women leading organizations or systems where the outcome was the loss of trillions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of jobs..... Or perhaps this is easier, show me the EVIDENCE that rooms and buildings full of white, American, upper-class men have done such a good job creating a somewhat just, equitable, well functioning financial system. When is it time to take a leap of faith, embrace the research, and enact the solutions so that diversity on Wall Street might finally be achieved? I am not talking about a women take-over, I am talking about a goal of critical mass, 30% women on the board and in senior leadership roles. The goal is greater balance. Our current system is out of balance!!!

If you have any doubt that our financial system is run my white guys, watch the Academy Award Winning film "The Inside Job." Read any one of the now hundreds of books telling the tales of the crisis and get a highlighter out when they mention a woman.

The real question is how do we get there. That I need to tackle in another post but read the NCRW report!!!! As a co-writer and funder of this research it tells you how. It is a road-map for how to increase diversity in the financial services sector.

These numbers are shocking, disturbing and everyone who ones a stock, a bond, a house or gives a hoot about our collective economic future needs to care.


This article was just written today by Amy Siskind of the Daily Beast on the same topic. ( click here to read it)

"Where are the Women on Wall Street?" The Female Factor - NYT
"Terminated: Why the Women of Wall Street are Disappearing" - Anita Raghaven FORBES
Museum of American Finance - History of Women on Wall Street