Designing More Equitable Systems: Dianne Chipps Bailey

Editor’s Note:  This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Dianne Chipps Bailey, Managing Director, National Philanthropy Strategy and Executive Philanthropic Solutions at Bank of America.

What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

Dianne Chipps Bailey
Dianne Chipps Bailey, Managing Director, National Philanthropy Strategy Executive Philanthropic Solutions at Bank of America.

Trust! I wish I had known to trust that my unconventional but deeply authentic professional journey would lead me to a place such as Bank of America’s Philanthropic Solutions strategy team, where we leverage our industry expertise to help our nonprofit clients achieve bold goals. In moments of uncertainty – and there have been many – I wish I’d known to: Trust your informed instincts. Trust mentors who often know you better than you know yourself. Trust that even roadblocks often are for your good. Trust that when your passion and purpose are aligned, success will follow. Trust that when you leap, the net will find you!

2. What is your current greatest professional challenge?

My greatest professional challenge is helping our clients to address social issues, many of which are 400 years in the making and often seem intractable, with the goal of creating positive change that is meaningful and enduring. In pursuit of this goal, our clients increasingly embrace complex strategies designed to build more equitable systems. This work is ambitious, with long time horizons for maximum impact, but is well worth the investment. A more personal challenge is managing my passions. There are so many exciting opportunities to serve and grow that it’s difficult to discern where to engage fully while continuing to prioritize life beyond philanthropy, especially my family. 

3. What inspires you most about your work?

Our clients’ deep commitment to make our world healthier, better educated and more humane inspires me every day. The philanthropists we advise bring refreshing humility to their grantmaking – only 4% of them claim to be experts! Our clients in operating charities are unrelenting in their pursuit of excellence and innovation. But what inspires me the most are the individual members of our national philanthropic strategy team at Bank of America. I am blessed to work with extraordinarily bright, insightful, dedicated, collaborative, warm and witty people – most of whom are women!

4. How does your gender identity inform your work?

My commitment to women’s leadership is at the core of my personal and professional identity. My service to Women’s Impact Fund (WIF), a member of the Catalist network of women’s collective giving funds, has influenced almost every facet of my adult life. The lessons learned and networks nurtured through my WIF membership have opened many doors for me. A key example was the invitation to join the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) council. In my role as Bank of America’s National Philanthropic Strategy Executive, I regularly draw upon WPI’s research on gender differences in giving and volunteering. Perhaps more importantly, I also regularly tap into WPI’s powerful national network of leaders for expertise and inspiration. I hope that readers will join us in Chicago on March 31-April 1 for WPI’s 2020 Symposium: “Philanthropy Plugged In – Creating Community in the Digital Age.”

5. How can philanthropy support gender equality?

Philanthropic organizations have the power to support gender equality in at least three capacities: As institutions, as investors and as grant-makers. As institutions, philanthropic organizations must elevate women to serve in top leadership roles, both at the staff and board levels, and also commit to policies that empower women such as pay equity and family leave.

As investors, philanthropy must take care in considering whether to adopt mission-aligned investment strategies, including the use of gender lens approaches. And, as grant-makers, now is the time for philanthropists to make transformative, multiyear commitments to organizations focused on women and girls. Donating to these organizations can yield benefits in other areas – nearly six in 10 respondents to Bank of America’s Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy who gave to such organizations said they did so because it is the most effective way to address other social problems.

Yet we have a way to go: As WPI’s recent research has revealed, one in four affluent women donate to women’s and girls’ organizations (compared with one in five similarly situated men) but giving overall to such organizations totals only 1.6% of all gifts annually. We can, and must, do better to support gender equality in the U.S. and internationally. 

6. In the next 10 years, where do you see gender equality movements taking us?

I am fiercely optimistic about the future of gender equity movements. As I shared in my recent TEDx Talk, I believe our greatest hope lies with the indignant but optimistic people who are aligning their efforts to create collective movements and demanding change from both within and outside our institutions. The power of the possible rests with nonprofits that once worked in silos now collaborating to achieve shared goals; protests filling our streets exposing pain and elevating new women leaders; hashtags building awareness and fundamentally changing and linking narratives; and socially conscious companies such as mine helping to set the pace to create a future in which women lead equally in the workplace and beyond. 


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Author: Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

One thought on “Designing More Equitable Systems: Dianne Chipps Bailey”

  1. As a UK and European women only, professional, life transformation coach, for the affluent women in my client base the need to assist with social causes is fulfilling, in the scope that it fills a gap in their affluent lifestyle. This is because most of the women that are my clients have come from humble, poor or disadvantaged backgrounds and had worked hard to get out of their stunted communities. Yet for these women, the numbers of social causes that they can relate to has become overwhelming due to the magnitude of the need for financial and patronage support. Most people assume that affluent professional women, HNW Women, UHNW Women have no worries in life. This is not always the case. There is a myriad; a concoction, of psychological and emotional distress that they are periodically trying to manage, that centres on trust based factors, their upbringing, their ethnicity, their geneaology, their sense of who they are (spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, professionally, socially), plus their stress and anger with life experiences. Where their internal aspects of themselves manifests itself in many ways on the outside. On their actions. On their physicality. Being successful and happy in life is key to them however they choose to define success at whatever stage in life that they find themselves in. Yet it is because of this social cause overwhelm from varying organisations reaching out to them that these women have had to set a boundary on the types of charitable organisations that they permit themselves to become engaged with. It is not solely the money that they choose to give but also a connection through their time, effort and guidance. The social movement for fairer societies across the globe still keeps churning and quite rightly so. Yet we must not be blinded by the fact that although a woman has become affluent; through marriage or independently, some turn a blind eye to helping the needy, the poor, the disadvantaged, the disabled, the marginalised across society. Often such women chant that it is the sole purpose of the government to put in place policies to help such member of society and it should not fall upon the rich to dig into their pockets to help people who quite frankly are too lazy to help themselves. These affluent women preferring instead to pamper to themselves, which is their own prerogative. Some affluent women of a particular mindset even have a preference to support political parties that favour the agendas of the rich, powerful and are race discrimination specific. So one can see where the challenges lay with accessing a movement of like-minded affluent women who have differing life experiences and ethos based on their created wealth, influence and power.

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