As I read the line in Time Magazine that 54% of men and 69% of women agree that there would be fewer problems in the world if women were more equal in government and business, I thought that the White House Project’s message was so true - - Add Women, Change Everything. By filling the leadership pipeline with a richly diverse, critical mass of women, the White House Project wants to make American institutions, businesses and government truly representative.
These past two months have been a cascade of data and initiatives that seem to remind us all of the breadth and width of women’s capacity. The Shriver Report shares research to demonstrate the need and urgency to reshape the structures we live, work, pray, govern, and play in to create a new model that will serve all of us. To truly embrace the impact and potential of A Woman’s Nation is not a zero sum game but a transformational opportunity. The annual women’s conference that Maria Shriver has produced is a highly energizing model to empower women to be the architects of this change.
In the same breath, I read with interest in the New York Times that “Naissance Capital, based in Zurich, will start the Women’s Leadership Fund which will invest exclusively in companies whose boards include women, or take minority stakes in companies that do not “understand the need for greater female representation” and use it as leverage to push through changes.”
If I had a million extra dollars, I would put it here for sure!
For years, Catalyst research has shown the financial strength of companies with women on their Boards. The Women’s Leadership Fund has a board of strong women who have lived in the governance seat including Kim Campbell, the former prime minister of Canada; Cherie Blair, a lawyer and the wife of Tony Blair, the former British prime minister; and Jenny Shipley, the former prime minister of New Zealand.
The Clinton Global Initiative understood the social capital value in bringing women and girls to the center of their philanthropic efforts with the announcement of donations to 13 strategic collaborative projects featuring women led solutions and development issues globally.
At the same time, the Women’s Funding Network had organized a gathering of leaders to talk about women’s philanthropy at the Salzburg Institute. Many of the people in attendance are leaders who have been living and creating the programs and social change similar to the impact Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn share in their hot selling book Half the Sky – Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.
All of these initiatives and strategies are important - placing women in elected offices, using a gender lens while investing in corporations, distributing data to demonstrate the need for transforming workplace and societal environments, philanthropic investment led by women and directed towards women’s leadership, and a White House and a State Department that includes a focus on women and girls.
Immediately my mind jumps to the question, What if these groups were integrated and talking to one another about creating a new shared power structure and system for the next 40 years? What is our vision and dream of what this could look like? Imagine the conversation if all of these players were in the same room. I want to produce that show!