How do you want to feel about money and investing?
For many of the professional women I work with, just talking about money still feels taboo. It makes it difficult for us to strategically invest, to build savings which allow us to more confidently take professional risks, and to save for retirement.
Now imagine if your investment decisions could help you secure your future and help people and the planet in the process.
I recently spent several days with a group of professional women who’ve dedicated their careers to working with money and helping use money as a tool to build a more just and equitable world.
“Women and Money: Making Money Moves that Matter” was a powerful gathering of thought leaders, savvy practitioners, and intentional investors from a wide range of industries that strive to engage meaningfully with money.
Attendees considered how their industry navigates investments and philanthropy, as well as how women navigate and negotiate about money in their professional lives. Their intention was to build collective power and craft action plans for mobilizing money with a focus on gender, racial, and economic justice.
Each of us makes daily decisions about what we want to support. Perhaps climate justice is part of the work you do professionally; maybe you’ve donated to a nonprofit that addresses climate change or boycotted a brand because you’ve heard they are terrible for the environment. But do you know whether your retirement portfolio includes oil and gas companies?
“Simultaneously investing in corporations that are bad for people and the planet renders your individual actions moot,” says Rachel Robasciotti, principal & wealth manager of RISE Capital.
As a socially conscious female professional, how does one navigate a complex financial landscape that is often out of alignment with our values?
Personally, I was horrified to learn that during the years I spent working on criminal justice reform, the money I was investing for my retirement was (and still is, for now) supporting for-profit prisons.
My retirement dollars are working in direct contradiction to how I allocate my philanthropic dollars and my time, along with many of the values I hold most dear.
While my initial investment in for-profit prisons was neither a conscious choice nor a large amount, that small contribution, combined with the contributions of other unwitting investors like me, helped these businesses thrive. The couple thousand dollars I had invested didn’t singlehandedly enable the prison industrial complex, but cumulatively, each of our investments did.
The impact of these realizations can leave one immobilized, at a loss about what to do next. We’re operating within a financial system that is designed to be “extractive of people and the planet,” says Phuong Luong, founder of Just Wealth and Investment Strategist at Robasciotti & Philipson. The system was designed simply to generate as much money as possible, no matter the cost.
This is where impact investing comes in. Simply put, impact investing means we, “Invest in the world we want to see,” according to Kristin Hull, founder, CEO and CIO of Nia Impact Capital.
While the current landscape can feel daunting, getting to reimagine investing as a tool to create a more just and equitable society is an exciting proposition. “When you put your resources toward something, you’re saying ‘I want more of this,’” says Robasciotti.
So, as professional women with agency over our resources, what do we want to see more of?
If, like many professional women, you’ve been avoiding conversations about money, consider how you can take a first step toward investing in the world you want to see. Kathleen McQuiggan, a wealth advisor at Artemis Financial Advisors suggests having a conversation with a financial partner, whether it’s a financial advisor or someone else in your life.
As McQuiggan explains, you can acknowledge the issues that are most important to you and chart where your investment portfolio might align with or contradict your values. Even if you choose to remain in certain funds, you’ll at least be aware of the companies you have money in.
Changemaker Strategies founder Tuti Scott explains it this way, “For true systems change to happen, conversations around gender, money, race and power need to happen within families, organizations and throughout every sector.” Beginning with these conversations, there is tremendous opportunity to make impact. As What Will It Take Movements founder Marianne Schnall shared, “It is time for women—and all of us—to move our money and resources in alignment with our values and use money as a transformative force to help create the more equitable, just, sustainable world we envision.”