We know that childcare needs to be valued and supported for society to thrive. Yet, time and again, we leave parents, particularly low-income and young parents, out of the picture for access to childcare.
Today, a new study released by the Ms. Foundation for Women validated that state and local officials need to take the reigns and steer their community toward economic growth by funding access to childcare.
“Our approach has not only helped the local organizations achieve policy gains, but also provided necessary resources to develop intersectional leadership in grassroots organizations,” said Aleyamma Mathew, Director of Economic Justice at the Ms. Foundation for Women. “To achieve economic security in the Trump era, we have to win on the state and local level,” she added.
As I continue to survey the landscape of gender equality giving, I am occasionally struck by a particularly effective corporate model for supporting this work. One of the most stunning examples of how corporations can turn their dollars around for the cause of women’s rights is CREDO Mobile, which has been funding gender equality movements for the past three decades.
CREDO Mobile grew out of Working Assets, one of the early corporations to grasp the idea of the potential for funding nonprofits via business. The company started as a long distance provider, and then went into credit cards. One of the company’s first credit card products was a card that generated donations to progressive nonprofits with every use.
Today, CREDO Mobile is led by Ray Morris, who spoke to me from his San Francisco office. Morris has only been CEO of CREDO for a year and a half, but his voice swells with pride and awe at the work CREDO has done, and will continue to do, to fund progressive movements with their business model.
In fact, gender equality accounts for about 11.7% of CREDO’s funding for progressive causes, since the company estimates making a total of $84 million in contributions since its founding, with an estimated $9.9 million of that going to women’s issues. This means CREDO is beating out philanthropy as a whole in its funding of gender equality, since estimates of the percentage of foundation funding going for women and girls range from 5-7%.
How does CREDO do it? “Every month we give $150,000 to 3 groups that are chosen by an internal committee that represents every working department of our company,” said Morris, in a recent interview with Philanthropy Women. These funds go for a wide range of progressive causes, including gender equality nonprofits like Women for Afghan Women, NARAL, and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
In this way, employees of CREDO are actively engaged in decision-making around the company’s giving, and the company’s gender equality giving goes to support a wide range of gender equality nonprofits. CREDO is the largest corporate funder of Planned Parenthood and a significant funder for the Ms. Foundation, the Global Fund for Women, and the Feminist Majority, but it also funds groups doing grassroots work like the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, which takes a multi-dimensional approach to helping women get empowered, from health to education to political involvement. When the National Latina Institute recently presented at CREDO Mobile, Morris said it was a profound experience for him, realizing the power of their work. “It made such an impact on me that I was crying in the background,” he said.
“So from very large to very small, we’re doing everything we can to push into these areas and support women’s empowerment,” he said, which goes beyond reproductive rights and into addressing issues like the wage gap and women in political leadership.
Morris emphasized the value of CREDO’s funding of voter registration and other grassroots activism that impacts political representation, coming back to the point that until we have more women in political leadership, it will be an uphill battle to fund gender equality efforts.
But Morris sees hope for more growth in gender equality funding. “What I find is that everyone is starting to piece it together. Everyone is starting to connect the dots that gender equality in healthcare, pay equality, involvement in the legislative process, is all part of the same story of women’s empowerment.”
“The only way it changes is with more women in the legislative process,” said Morris. “If there were more women involved, would there be having an all-out war on women’s reproductive rights? Probably not.”
So how is CREDO working to get more women into government? By funding nonprofits that take a multidimensional approach.
Morris said that due diligence on that funding is key to the process of closing the political leadership gap. “We ask nonprofits, ‘What are you doing with this money?’ and ‘How have our past grants helped you?” We analyze the data, so that when you see the nonprofits we fund year after year, it’s groups that are highly effective, and groups that are highly effective are generally working in a multidimensional way.”
I thought I’d try picking Morris’s executive brain, so I asked him what he would do if he was the CEO of a foundation that was worth $50 million and made $5 million a year in grants for gender equality. How would he portion out the grants, and would he give more weight to getting women into office?
“I would never pretend to be a high level executive woman. My IQ would likely go up by about 100 points,” he quipped. “But we know for a fact that there are national groups that are good at getting headlines, but are not able to point to real social accomplishments. At the same time, we can point to certain groups and say ‘these people move the ball.’ We’re going to look at organizations that are measurably effective at pushing their agenda.”
Morris gave the question a bit more thought and then added, “My guess is, if I were a high level executive woman at a foundation, I would know that my approach needed to be multidimensional, and so that would include opening clinics in underserved areas, it would include people on the ground knocking on doors to get women voting and running for office. And it would also include finding like-minded people, both men and women in the House and Senate, and helping those people campaign effectively so that we can make those changes in the long term.”
In the age of Trump, let’s hope more corporations take a page from CREDO’s playbook and figure out how to be part of the solution, particularly for gender equality. “We know that no one in the world has enough money to solve these problems,” said Morris. “So we know we’re going to need to influence the larger players of business and government.”
Check out this list of CREDO Mobile’s funding for gender equality to get a full picture of how CREDO is working this terrain.
At CREDO, where I serve as CEO, we are executing an aggressive response to Trump that focuses on protecting vulnerable communities at risk, delegitimizing an unqualified candidate who was opposed by a majority of voters, obstructing Trump’s hateful and aggressive agenda and going on the counterattack wherever possible. Our community of more than 4.7 million CREDO activists is mobilized and already fighting Trump. We know firsthand that individual actions can avalanche into large-scale transformation.
We also contribute more than $150,000 every month to progressive nonprofits from revenue generated by CREDO Mobile, our progressive phone company. That adds up to more than $1.6 million this year and over $81 million over our 30+ years in business.
My top priority is to protect America’s least-privileged and most-vulnerable people. In many ways, I feel like I’ve lived the American dream. I grew up poor with a single mother of four kids. She fought every day to put food on the table and build a better life for us. Thanks to her, I was able to achieve success in engineering and the telecom industry.
That path allowed me to see my own privilege and understand how doors that I walked through in the past were less open for those of different races and ethnicities. I am afraid that even those small openings are slamming shut.
International Breastfeeding Week is August 1-7, so we’d like to take the opportunity here at Philanthropy Women to emphasize the importance of breastfeeding to human health, and to ask women givers to do more to support breastfeeding initiatives. If you want to know my opinion, breastfeeding should be a celebrated activity. What a different world it would be if, every time a woman breastfed in public, people around her paused and admired what is one of the miracles of human health.
But instead, we shame women who breastfeed in public. We eye them with disgust. If women post pictures of themselves breastfeeding, they get trolled online. Recently, Aliya Shagieva, the youngest daughter of the president of Kyrgyztan, posted a picture of herself breastfeeding her baby on Instagram, with the caption, “I will feed my child whenever and wherever he needs to be fed.” She was accused of immoral behavior, and trolled until she took the picture down.
One thing that repeatedly intrigues me in philanthropy is the way that women leaders put together the components of giving and social progress in new and creative ways, in order to maximize deployment of funds to important causes. Nearly every week, I come across a new combination of philanthropy and social action that a woman is pioneering.
This week’s amazing tale of women doing good in the world comes from the online retail sector and a new hub for online shopping called Union & Fifth. This nonprofit online store makes it easy for you to donate women’s designer clothing, shoes, and handbags, and choose a cause for where the money will be donated.
While estimates are frighteningly low for the percentage of financial assets under management by women and minorities, that number is destined to change. Leading the charge for this change as one of the few women-owned asset management companies is ThirtyNorth Investments, headed by Suzanne Mestayer, Managing Principal, and Blair duQuesnay, Principal and Chief Investment Officer.
How did Mestayer and duQuesnay become gender lens investors? They were basically convinced by the business case for more women in corporate leadership. “It was an interesting confluence of increasing our knowledge on the topic of women in governance, and learning about how few women are on corporate boards,” said Mestayer in a recent interview with Philanthropy Women. “This coincided with our acknowledgement of our own experiences serving on boards, and seeing the benefits of having diversity on those boards.”
One of the things I love about Ellevate Network is the way they are bringing together authority, autonomy, and agency in order to grow gender equality movements. Sallie Krawcheck comes with the authority in finance, she has now launched Ellevate which gives her vision more autonomy, and today Ellevate is taking a big step to increase the agency of gender equality movements by hosting its first-ever summit to mobilize gender equality movements.
From the Summit’s webpage:
Action. Impact. Power.
These words are some of the ones we deal with every day at Ellevate Network. We know women have power (after all we hold trillions of dollars in investable assets, control 86% of consumer spending and are starting businesses at a faster pace than men.) And yet, there is still gender inequality.
It stops here.
Join us virtually for our first annual summit as we talk about using your voice for advocacy and creating change in your community; the power of news and information accessibility and how it is changing business; innovation and disruption as a way to close the gap; and how we can work together to make change happen.
With more than 30 speakers taking the stage, this full-day event will leave you inspired and ready for action, with key-takeaways you can implement in your life today.
Because of the importance of addressing climate change for women worldwide (as well as for all other manner of human and other species), it is important to take note of the economic activity that other countries are poised to engage in as a result of the Paris Accord. It’s also important to note how the U.S. will miss out on these economic opportunities because of our current poor (and non-representative) presidential leadership.
Since its launch in May of 2016, I have started following Ellevate Network on my Twitter feed, and I am always impressed by the quality of their material on both gender equality and gender lens investing. Now, the new startup that aims to capture the $11 trillion women’s investing market, is holding a conference in June to activate gender equality movements. Sallie Krawcheck, the architect and founder of Ellevest, came to my attention last spring when I was creating a list of 9 Gender Lens Investors to Know About.
Here is my capsule on Krawcheck from that article:
Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and Co-Founder, Ellevest
Known as one of the most senior women on Wall Street, Sallie Krawcheck is a mastermind of finance who has now broken out on her own to make gender lens investing a priority. Formerly president of the Global Wealth and Investment Management division of Bank of America, Krawcheck is widely published on issues ranging from Wall Street regulatory reform to how to manage a start-up. Krawcheck is on a mission to close the gender investing gap, and help women everywhere figure out a good equation for money in their lives. In a recent interview for CNBC about Ellevest, Krawcheck was quoted as saying, “If I were to go very Gloria Steinem on you, I’d say until we get this gap closed, we’re not going to be equal.” Her new platform, Ellevest, is just getting started on cashing in on the $11 trillion market of assets controlled by women.
The world of gender lens investing has yet to be even marginally explored for all its potential, especially given that only 1.1% of assets under management in the asset industry are controlled by women and minorities.
That’s why it’s exciting to learn that the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island is hosting an event on June 7, 2017 featuring Jackie VanderBrug, gender lens investing expert. I featured Jackie VanderBrug in my list of 9 leaders to know in gender lens investing. Here is my capsule on her:
Jackie VanderBrug, Senior Vice President and Investment Strategist, US Trust
VanderBrug is one of the earlier and most dedicated leaders in the new field of gender lens investing. She comes from Criterion, another pioneer in the field where she helped develop the Women Effect. VanderBrug’s awareness of the interrelated nature of social change began when she was a domestic policy analyst for the U.S. Congress. Along with Sarah Kaplan, VanderBrug recently authored an article entitled the Rise of Gender Capitalism, published in the Fall 2014 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, which discussed in detail how investing with a gender lens creates financial and social impacts, while also helping women.
Fidelity Charitable has come out with a new report on trends in women’s giving, and it is definitely food for thought for anyone in the women’s philanthropy field.
The report delves into generational differences in giving between Millennial women and Boomer women.
Before talking about the report’s findings, I want to draw attention to the methodology, so we know specifically who we are talking about when we talk about Millennials and Baby Boomers. The report used survey data from Millennials, which they defined as women age 17 to 37, and Baby Boomers, which they defined as women age 51 to 71. So women in the 37 to 51 range (like me!) are not being talked about in the report.