Take Action, Move Your Money for Impact
By Tuti B. Scott
We must endeavor to create a compassionate and just society. In order to do this, it is imperative that we resource and support womxn, particularly Black womxn leaders, Indigenous womxn leaders, LGBTQI womxn leaders, and other womxn who have been marginalized by oppression for too long.
On January 6, we witnessed a horrific public assault on our democracy fueled by white supremacy in the midst of an unremedied health pandemic. The injustices rooted in white supremacy have prompted many of us to assess our individual and collective roles in society, across all arenas of our lives: politics, healthcare, education, finance, and purchasing.
The injustices rooted in white supremacy have prompted many of us to assess our individual and collective roles in society, across all arenas of our lives: politics, healthcare, education, finance, and purchasing.
To support changemakers in navigating this ever complex world we find ourselves in, I am excited to announce the launch of a new Guide that I authored in collaboration with Tides and in association with the Women’s Funding Network: “Moving Money for Impact: a Guide to Gender Lens Investing.” My purpose is to generate, learn about, and spread actionable solutions on gender equity with a racial justice lens. Womxn, especially womxn of color, lesbians, and trans womxn, have been systemically under-resourced and dismissed from benefiting from multiple levers of finance. My intention and sincere hope in writing this Guide is to continue to introduce more people to core concepts and the powerful impact of gender lens investing, as well to urge readers to invest in a way that aligns awareness and values with action.
Our values around money and resources are steeped in our cultures and identities. I am a white lesbian feminist who grew up working class in rural New Hampshire, where I held a paying job starting at the age of 12. I was shaped by mottos like, “Waste not, want not,” and “Actions speak louder than words.” Over time, I have learned how to make my own money moves that matter to me by defining what I want to see happen in my lifetime: representative government, equitable sports and business, and an end to patriarchy and white supremacy.
I crave more vulnerable and practical conversations about money, which is one reason I wrote this Guide. In my late 50s, I am still undoing and releasing the stressors of repeatedly coming out as a lesbian, as well as grappling with shameful feelings that accompany “jumping class.” Like so many people, I have many layers of feelings about money. Writing this Guide and now sharing it is about the strength of community as well.
We all need to deepen our awareness and attention around how we leverage our whole wallet/purse of resources — from consumerism, to philanthropy, to investments. Let’s all commit to start talking to our partners, loved ones, children and grandchildren, colleagues, advisors, and friends about doing everything we can to “make money moves that matter.”
What’s in the Guide?
First, you will find an overview of gender lens investing, as well as transformative new ideas and frameworks to help you shift from understanding (the why) to taking action (the how). The Guide also provides readers with practical advice and tools to start aligning portfolios with values. One first step, for example, might be a divestment in equities with extractive practices or direct investment in Nia Capital’s fund, whose entire portfolio is weighted by gender diversity, meaning that there is a balance of male and female representation.
For those who are already “holistic investors” (a term coined by Tracy Gray of 22Fund), consider proactively supporting funds like Adasina Social Capital’s fund or reviewing the sample portfolios of Ruth Shaber, Maria Jobin-Leeds, or the Texas Women’s Foundation. The Guide strongly encourages readers to revisit and re-align their investments, endowments, and donor-advised funds towards gender and racial justice. One pitfall investors sometimes encounter is through closer examination of funds under management where they may discover that funds are held in a vehicle or asset that might conflict with the values of the family, the grantmaking, or the focus issues of a foundation. This Guide seeks to improve oversight so that this does not occur and illuminates a path forward for investors to leverage every means possible to shift the balance of economic power in this country toward cultivating compassionate and just communities.
For philanthropists, this Guide can steer foundations and donors to support high-performing inclusive strategies led by fierce movement leaders. These movement leaders are doing the incredibly difficult work of replacing the toxicity of heteronormative white supremacy and patriarchy, not only as the norm, but as the only way of life.
In “Moving Money for Impact,” I share lessons from my own career in feminist philanthropy, explain what it means to think beyond asset allocation with an eye towards impact, and explore how to optimize gender lens investing as a tool for systems change. I include stories of leaders who have inspired me along the way and highlight initiatives that I hope will inspire bold action.
Why Gender Lens Investing Now?
“Moving Money for Impact” comes at a time when, according to Veris Wealth Partners, growth in gender lens investing products has accelerated with public assets under management totaling $6 billion as of December 2020 And yet women receive less than three percent of venture capital, and, according to ProjectDiane, less than one percent going to Black and Latinx womxn — a shameful statistic.
Gender lens investing with a racial justice lens is even more essential now given the ongoing effects of COVID-19. Nicole Mason, CEO and President of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, coined the term “she-cession,” based on the reality that “male-dominated industries like manufacturing and construction, which typically feel the brunt of an economic collapse, have fared well (during the pandemic), whereas industries like travel, leisure, and hospitality have been virtually halted by shelter-in-place orders across the country. Womxn, particularly womxn of color, make up much of these industries.”
On the heels of the 2020 federal elections and the catastrophic seditious acts leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris-our country’s first woman and Black Asian individual to hold the office of Vice President of the United States-it cannot be more clear that we must strengthen inclusive democracy in this country. I know one way we can do this is to fund Black womxn leaders, Indigenous womxn leaders, LGBTQI womxn leaders, and other womxn who have been marginalized by oppressions. These leaders are starting and transforming movements (as they have been for centuries), leading the way on civil rights, climate justice, educational equity, and more.
More than anything, I hope this Guide speaks to people who are wrestling with questions like, “What does gender equity and racial equity look like for me and my community in a capitalist system?” and “What is my role in co-creating social inclusion and belonging?”
In my conversations with philanthropists and investors, one question I repeatedly hear is: “At what level and where exactly can I make a real/growing impact?” Whether you are a novice or an expert when it comes to investing, I hope “Moving Money for Impact: a Guide to Gender Lens Investing” helps you answer this question.
Now is the time that we must follow womxn and all those who have been hugely under-resourced for far too long. We can elevate gender and race as social inclusion factors for any and all money moves we make, whether it’s our dollars held in investments or our donations or purchases. Investing in all of us is necessary for long-term healing in this world. This Guide aims to set you on a path to re-creating your money story (if need be) and committing to use your resources for truly necessary good.