Institutional investors control a combined $70 trillion in assets – and the majority of people managing that massive money pile are white, male, or both.
Insider spoke with eight Black women in high-powered asset-management roles who collectively control billions of dollars in assets. They shed light on whether the industry’s diversity problems are fully understood. They also discussed victories and pivotal moments in their careers:
“I’m fully aware that when you ask the random person, ‘What comes to mind when you think of an investment manager?’ I’m pretty sure that the image that comes to mind doesn’t look like me,” said Tina Byles Williams, the founder, CEO and CIO of Philadelphia-based asset manager Xponance. “It probably doesn’t look like a woman, and it surely doesn’t look like a Black woman. That is the opportunity and the burden.”
“I unapologetically take up space,” said Dominique Cherry, head of capital markets at the Philadelphia Board of Pensions and Retirement. “You just make a decision that you’re going to take up as much space as needed until that point that your presence is recognized, your voice is heard, and hopefully you can bring a couple of young people along the way with you.”
PwC is spending $12 billion on a new plan to hire 100,000 people over the next five years.
“The New Equation” plan, announced on Tuesday, is set to pump money into recruitment, training, and technology at the firm, and focus PwC on giving clients more environmental, social, and governance advice, the company said. The professional services firm said it wanted to grow its 284,000-person global workforce by more than a third between 2021 and 2026.
PwC US is committing $125 million to prepare 25,000 Black and Latinx students for business careers as part of the plan, Tim Ryan, PwC’s US chairman and senior partner, said in a LinkedIn blog post on Tuesday.
PwC plans to hire 10,000 of these students over the next five years, he said.
“We’re going to get them ready for the workforce, to create internships, and training opportunities,” Ryan told Fast Company on Tuesday.
“Ten thousand will come to us, which is important, but we will be equally proud of the [other] 15,000 we’re going to help because that then gets to solving the broader societal problem.”
PwC currently has around 55,000 US employees and hires up to 8,000 Americans a year, the Financial Times reported.
The infrastructure plan also includes a $3 billion drive to double its business in the Asia-Pacific region, PwC said. Bob Moritz, global chair of PwC, said the firm was “going to massively invest to redefine itself and rebrand itself to make sure we’re valuable for what our clients need and what the world needs.”
Amazon distributed a “health and wellness guide” to workers at a warehouse in Tulsa, Oklahoma, instructing them to train like “industrial athletes” in order to improve their performance on the job, Vice News reported Tuesday.
The guide, according to Vice, tells workers to “prepare their bodies” for walking “up to 13 miles a day” and lifting “a total of 20,000 pounds” during a single shift (more than 30 pounds every minute for a 10-hour shift).
The guide, Vice reported, discusses topics including nutrition, hydration, sleep, footwear, ergonomics, and injury prevention, with suggestions such as: eat five to nine servings of veggies per day, “monitor your urine color,” and buy shoes “at the end of the day when your feet are swollen to allow for plenty of room when they swell during work.”
Amazon also said in the guide, according to Vice, that workers could seek help from “injury prevention specialists” for “body discomforts that you may have as an industrial athlete.”
Amazon told Insider the guide was created “in error” and that it has “removed” the guide. It’s unclear if the guide was distributed at additional warehouses beyond the one in Tulsa.
Amazon did not respond to Insider’s follow-up questions about who was responsible for creating the guide, why no one noticed what the company claimed was a mistakenly created guide before it was distributed to workers, or when it was removed (Vice reported that the guides dated back to 2020).
Vice reported that it obtained the guide from former Amazon employee Bobby Gosvenor, who claimed the company told him to keep working even after he suffered a herniated disc – an injury he sustained due to a broken conveyer belt the company hadn’t yet fixed – and that Amazon delayed him from getting treatment for two months by forcing him to seek diagnoses from multiple doctors.
Amazon did not respond to questions about Gosvenor’s injury.
Vice’s report about Amazon’s “wellness” guide, which told workers how they should take care of themselves, comes the same day as an analysis from The Washington Post that found that Amazon is doing a significantly worse job taking care of its workers as competitors.
In 2020, about 5.9 out of every 100 Amazon employees were injured on the job, compared to 2.5 at Walmart, according to The Post’s analysis. That echoes previous reporting from Reveal and other news outlets showing that Amazon has long had higher workplace injury rates than what’s typical for its industry, and has deceived the public and regulators about those rates by underreporting injuries, delaying workers from seeking medical treatment, and assigning employees to “light duty” work in an effort to downplay the hours of labor lost due to serious injuries.
In response to The Post’s story, Amazon told Insider that the company is investing more in workplace safety and taking a number of steps to reduce injuries. One of those programs is its WorkingWell program, which includes phonebooth-sized enclosed boxes where employees can practice mindfulness.
In Jeff Bezos’ final shareholder letter as CEO, he also detailed Amazon’s plans to use algorithms to rotate workers between jobs in an effort to use all of their muscle groups rather than overloading one muscle group.
But none of Amazon’s wellness programs had previously appeared to address what some experts say is the root of its injury rates: demanding and inflexible productivity quotas, which require workers to complete a large number of tasks per shift and penalize them for “time off task.”
On Tuesday, Amazon published a blog post saying that it would measure each worker’s time off task over a longer period of time in an effort to focus more on resolving “operational issues” relative to identifying “under-performing employees.”
However, Amazon did not commit to easing up on its productivity quotas or allowing workers more time off task.
Aiha Nguyen, a researcher at the think tank Data & Society, who studies how Amazon and other employers use technology to extract more productivity out of workers, said in a recent report that the rise of workplace surveillance – along with weakened labor law – contributes to “work speedups, overwork, and injury.”
“Amazon has been leading the pack toward technologically driven speedups,” Nguyen said, citing its time-off-task policy and a game called “Mission Racer” that Amazon created to make workers compete with each other to fulfill customer orders.
“Making work into a race contrasts with other standard and accepted principles of engineering that set rates based on the ability of an average worker or the overall workforce, not an algorithm,” Nguyen said. “As a consequence, the injury rate for warehouse workers is increasing.”
In response to The Post’s report, labor groups affiliated with Amazon workers called for the company to end its time-off-task policies.
“The stunning analysis released today is proof that Amazon’s impossible productivity requirements are unsustainable and must be brought to a swift end. Amazon’s grueling and strenuous pace of work puts workers in increased danger of serious injuries, and appallingly has been used to punish any workers who push back,” Debbie Berkowitz, director of the worker safety and health program at the National Employment Law Project, said in a statement.
“Amazon workers don’t need meditation booths. They need Amazon to end rate and Time Off Task requirements and redesign the physical layout of the jobs to provide workers with a safe workplace. Workers should not have to sacrifice their health for a paycheck,” she added.
When Klaus Schwab thinks of climate change, he thinks of his grandchildren and their future. Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, is worried – but hopeful.
“Many people have a tendency to see our fight against climate change as a cost, as something that is negative,” Schwab said. “Yes, it may be to a certain extent, but it’s also a great opportunity.”
For the economic leader, tackling climate change means leadership innovation. Company executives, investors, consumers, and political leaders will have to find ways to work together to enact change, he said.
And that means new economic opportunities: new infrastructure projects such as the one Congress is debating, new developments in technologies such as carbon sequestration, and new products such as expanded options for electric cars.
Schwab credits a good portion of his philosophy on climate change to Bill Gates, who he said is a leader in the green movement.
“Gates talks about how, in order to decarbonize the world or to make it carbon-neutral by 2050, a lot of new technological progress has to be achieved,” Schwab said. “I see here a great opportunity because we can move into an age of green innovation.”
Signs of this age of green innovation have increased in the past year. ESG investments, or investments that apply environmental, social, and governance principles to a company’s performance, have seen record growth and are projected to increase in the future, reports showed.
US assets under management that used ESG criteria increased 42% over the past two years to $17 trillion in 2020, up from $12 trillion in 2018, showed a 2020 report from the US Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment.
A growing number of companies have pledged large green initiatives. GM, America’s largest car manufacturer, said it would go carbon-neutral in its global products and operations by 2040. Apple committed to being 100% carbon-neutral for its supply chain and products by 2030.
Schwab is energized by these changes and believes the trend toward a more stakeholder-centric view of the world is ahead.
“I’m really excited,” he said, adding that society has changed over the past few years. “We have a new mindset. We have a new social consciousness.”
Insider spoke with Schwab about his new mindset and how leaders plan to embrace the ESG movement. Our interview has been edited for length and clarity.
There’s more and more recognition that a viable economy not only relies on treating people well but treating the climate well. Do you think CEOs have fully adopted this mindset that treating the climate well is good for shareholders?
So the executives who have a longer-term thinking have clearly adopted this mindset. And if you look, there are two reasons – they are very obvious. So there’s first an economic reason. I think what we have learned from the coronavirus is that prevention – the cost of prevention is much lesser compared to the cost of responding afterward to the damage. So we have a situation where you have a kind of free ride because you don’t have to integrate all your external costs into your business model, but someone will have to pay for it. And it will be down the road.
And my fear is that we may end up like tobacco companies, which means, we will be in a situation where, down the line, you will have class action. Already today, investors recognize this danger, this risk. There are investors who hesitate to provide capital to companies who really are damaging the environment.
But there’s also a moral reason. I’m thinking of my grandchildren. I don’t want to have them facing a crisis that may be much worse compared to what we are seeing today with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Do you believe that investors are recognizing the risk?
I said investors who are thinking long term. Of course, if you want to make a fast buck, it’s a different matter.
But in the end, I think companies will recognize they will be better off economically if they take care of nature, because young people – I mean, at least my employees – they don’t want to work anymore for a company or for an organization that is damaging nature.
And I think clients and customers do not want to buy the products of such a company. So I think it’s in the direct, commercial business interest of companies to take care of the planet.
Here in the US, the Securities and Exchange Commission just created an ESG task force to promote the disclosure and transparency of ESG criteria. And a report showed that over 300 ESG proxies are headed to a vote this spring. How do you feel about the surge and attention to ESG reporting?
I think it’s a great evolution. Some people would say even a revolution. But we should not forget that the ESG metrics – so measuring responsibility – are only part of a total integrated system.
It starts with defining your strategies, where you have to take into account the present and maybe even future expectations of your stakeholders. So it’s a strategy formulation. It’s the responsibility of the board. Then it is of course execution, not only inside the company itself but also in the supplying network. And at the end, you have some measurement system, the ESG metrics.
So we should not look at ESG metrics just as some kind of a formal, additional reporting system. I think to do ESG performance in the right way, you have to look at it as an ecosystem, which integrates a company as a whole.
There are those who are still against certain ESG metrics, for example, the billionaire investor Warren Buffett recently urged shareholders to reject proposals for more transparency of climate-related risks and diversity and inclusion efforts. What would you say to Buffett and others who reject more transparency?
I would like to have a discussion with him.
I would tell him: “Look, I can understand that on the level of Berkshire Hathaway, which is a kind of conglomerate, you will have difficulties measuring the ESG responsibility of each of your companies where you have a shareholding in. So, here, I would understand.”
But as far as his companies are concerned, where he has invested in, I would tell him: “Look, particularly because you are very heavily exposed to the insurance business, why don’t you engage actively into more ESG of responsibility? Because it may backfire on you one day, in your insurance business. You may be caught by not having an integrated policy where you pursue profitability but also take care of people and the planet.”
President Joe Biden is asking Congress to approve hundreds of billions of dollars to remake transit infrastructure in the US in a plan that the White House says will fight climate change. What do you think of this kind of package?
It’s not enough to hold only corporations responsible. I think we have a common responsibility, all stakeholders of global society, which means corporations have to absolve a lot of their responsibilities in this respect, but it’s also us individual consumers, and it’s the government.
And the government has to contribute to fighting climate change by creating the necessary incentives and also disincentives. I think there are still too many governments around the world that provide subsidies for activities that actually are damaging the climate. And I think we need the government to step in to build the necessary infrastructures.
What we need is an integrated approach. We cannot fight climate change by doing here a little bit, there a little bit. We need to have an integrated ecosystem approach. And I think here the government has a major role to play, to provide the kind of integrated vision for the future.
Going back to the corporate world for a minute: Doesn’t the case of Danone and the recent ousting of its CEO show that focusing on ESG metrics can lead to a nonconfidence vote of shareholders?
Yes, so we have the famous case of Danone. The CEO was ousted and the criticism was that he has been devoting his time and his attention much too much to the ESG dimension, and not necessarily giving sufficient attention to his shareholders. But I think that’s a wrong dichotomy.
We shouldn’t make an artificial polarization between profitability on the one hand and people and the planet on the other hand. I think the art of good management today is to create the right balance and not to be too much just keeping in mind stakeholders or shareholders. I’ll give you a practical example – if we compare Danone with Unilever.
Unilever is certainly recognized worldwide as a company that is at the forefront of ESG thinking, but at the same time the share price of Unilever has doubled more or less in the past 10 years. The share price of Danone has quite had some difficulties, especially over the past year. Shareholders are also stakeholders. Unilever is an example that you can give [attention] to your shareholders as well as your other stakeholders.
What company stands out to you as doing especially well when it comes to tackling climate change?
I’m looking at the hardest-hit companies, hardest in terms of those being confronted with a major need for transformation. Here – if I look at the oil industry – I take as an example Total, the French oil company. Total is one of the 70 companies that the World Economic Forum brought together to commit to report on the ESG metrics we have developed with the International Business Council, under the guidance of Bank of America’s CEO, Brian Moynihan, together with the Big Four audit companies.
If we’re talking about persons, I would say Bill Gates. I just read his newest book [“How to Avoid a Climate Disaster”]. I think he has a very great contribution to offer us. Because he says, “Look, we need a systemic approach to fight climate change. Even if we take all of our goodwill, it will not be enough. What we need is innovation.”
He talks about how in order to decarbonize the world or to make it carbon-neutral by 2050, a lot of new technological progress has to be achieved. Our present technology does not suffice to get to the target in 2050. So I see here a great opportunity because we can move into an age of green innovation.
Many people have a tendency to see our fight against climate change as a cost, as something that is negative. Yes, it may be to a certain extent, but it’s also a great opportunity.
If I look at the young generations – the World Economic Forum has a community of 10,000 young leaders – if I talk to them, they have a different mindset. They have a different picture of the world.
It’s not only the material dimension, income, or GDP. It’s well-being. And climate change is interconnected with pollution. It’s interconnected with life expectancy. It’s interconnected with a lot of health issues. So if we want to invest in our well-being, then we have to invest in fighting climate change.
Recently, a number of major corporations such as GM and Apple have made pledges to go carbon-neutral – GM by 2040, and Apple by 2030. Do you think these timelines are realistic? And are they fast enough?
We speak about a carbon-free world by 2050. That’s the objective of the Paris Agreement. Most countries have subscribed to this objective. And many, many companies have now also issued statements that they would achieve carbon neutrality.
Now, we have to be aware that the situation is not the same for each company. We have the energy companies – the Exxons, the Chevrons, and so on – that will have much more challenges to reach this objective of carbon neutrality in 2050, compared to Google, or even a car manufacturer that understands the technology to make this transformation to the electric car.
So it’s good if companies that have fewer challenges, such as the high-tech companies, provide an example by setting very ambitious objectives. But again, I come back to this: Setting objectives is not enough. Being measured in the execution is important, and here the ESGs come in again.
Do you think the energy-sector companies such as Chevron and Exxon have fully bought into the stakeholder-capitalism model? Have they bought into addressing climate change?
I would answer that in the following way: If they haven’t bought in yet, into the stakeholder concept, they are on the wrong side of history, because I’m deeply convinced that we are now really at an inflection point where society as a whole does not tolerate any more companies that are damaging nature or that are not upholding diversity and social justice.
I think we have a completely new social consciousness. We now also have a world where every deficiency can be reported very fast, and that can create a negative reaction. So if I were Exxon or a company that’s really challenged – we should not forget, these companies need a complete transformation of their business models – I would commit to the stakeholder concept, but would also try to create understanding in the public. For me, being in the energy sector, it may be much more difficult compared to a company that’s already producing products that do not necessarily damage the environment. So it’s a communications effort.
How are you feeling about the corporate fight to tackle climate change? What, if anything, are you excited about?
I’m really excited because, as I just mentioned, we have a new mindset. We have a new social consciousness. People like Greta Thunberg got very aware that something is wrong here in our lifestyles – that either we will have to suffer down the road or our children will have to suffer.
So we are now in a situation where climate change, or the attention given to climate change, provides a higher sensitivity for other deficiencies that we have.
I mentioned already a lack of inclusion, a lack of social justice, a system that is not necessarily fair in providing everybody with the necessary opportunities. And I think the pandemic has contributed to this new alertness, to this new sensitivity. Some people may say this is inconvenient because we pinpoint weaknesses in our society, but it’s a wake-up call to adapt and to make sure that we have better lives. That’s what we’re fighting for.
If you looked at Dalio’s bookshelves, you’d find a number of books by Henry Kissinger, politician, diplomat, and geopolitical consultant who served as Secretary of State and national security advisor under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.
“[Kissinger] is a practitioner. He himself has sat in those shoes for all of those years. He’s not being theoretical. He’s not one of those studies of history. He actually had to be in the middle of it,” Dalio said.
The former secretary of state, who’s 97, is the author of over a dozen books including most recently “World Order,” published in 2014 and “On China,” published in 2011.
In the world of diplomacy, Kissinger is lauded by many for his policy of “détente,” easing strained relations through conversations, with the then-Soviet Union, and for opening US-China relations. However, others point out his role in controversial national policies such as the US’s support for Pakistan during the Bangladesh War despite an unfolding genocide and helping end the Vietnam War in 1973 despite furthering it as national security advisor for years beforehand.
A complex figure, Kissinger’s writings have been bestsellers and acclaimed by many in diplomacy for offering both an inside view of his decisions under Nixon and Ford and the kind of complexity that Dalio prizes. His writing style can sometimes provide a bird’s eye view of history.
For example, when “World Order” came out, Michiko Kakutani, former Pulitzer-prize winning chief book reviewer of the New York Times, wrote: “At its best, his writing functions like a powerful zoom lens, opening out to give us a panoramic appreciation of larger historical trends and patterns, then zeroing in on small details and anecdotes that vividly illustrate his theories.”
The 2014 bestseller argues that the concept of world order has consistently changed based on which region of the world was the most powerful, and the book seeks to answer how the world can build an international world order in an era of conflict, rapid technological advance, and ideological extremism.
In his second most recent book, “On China,” the diplomat gives an overview of the East Asian country’s history from a foreign policy perspective. It also offers an inside view of what went into Nixon’s historic trip to Beijing in 1972. Its last chapter focuses on China’s future, specifically as it relates to the US.
In it, he warns of potential conflict between the two powers.
“The United States does need to get tough with China. If China has its way, it will keep robbing the United States and American companies of their technology and intellectual property,” he wrote.
Since then, he’s been an even louder advocate for the need to resolve mounting tensions between the US and China, a topic that deeply concerns Dalio.
“We will slide into a situation similar to World War I,” Kissinger warned in a 2020 panel discussion if relations don’t ease.
For Dalio, the former secretary of state’s predictions are deeply informative.
“You don’t get a person who really knows history, and really has lived history as a practical decision maker and is clear and articulate – you don’t get many of those,” Dalio said.
Executives from Bank of America, Mastercard, KPMG, and about 60 other large companies announced Tuesday they’ll be adopting a new reporting framework for environmental, social, and governance standards (ESGs) in partnership with the World Economic Forum.
Other companies that have signed on to this reporting framework include Salesforce, Unilever, Dell, and Sony.
ESG standards are a set of criteria used to measure a company’s performance on things such as how the company is impacting the environment (like its amount of toxic emissions), how it manages relationships with its employees (does it encourage employees to volunteer), and how the company runs internally (boardroom diversity).
If widely adopted, these standards, called “Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics,” have the potential to transform what it means to operate a large corporation. It could make it standard procedure for a major company to report its ESG metrics, just like it’s standard (in fact, required) for a company to report on its financial metrics.
Many in the business community see ESG metrics as a concrete way to advance stakeholder capitalism, the leading economic theory today that says companies are responsible to all stakeholders, including their employees, customers, the environment, as well as their shareholders.
“We have to deliver great returns for our shareholders and help drive progress on society’s most important priorities,” Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America, and chairman of the International Business Council, said in a statement. “That is stakeholder capitalism in action.”
The next step in a trend
In September, the World Economic Forum and the International Business Council (IBC), run by Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, partnered with “the Big Four” accounting firms to create the reporting framework of 21 ESG standards. The big four – Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG – provide financial auditing and other professional services.
2020 was a record year for initial public offerings in the US, with 442 logged as of December 14. Yet only five of those were companies founded and led by women, according to research by Business Insider and information provided by Nasdaq.
Historically, only 20 women have ever founded and led a company through to an IPO.
Some companies have gone public with female CEOs who were not their founders, but that number is small compared to the majority (at this writing, only nine companies have fit that description this year).
The jarring discrepancy was pointed out by Julie Wainwright, the founder of the luxury consignment shop The Real Real. In May 2019, Wainwright became the 15th woman to found and take a company public.
To achieve gender equality, the fastest way forward is to close the entrepreneurial gap and support more women founding Fortune 500s. That’s because women aren’t reaching powerful positions often enough when they go the traditional corporate route.
Also, we need more women to try and become insanely rich.
Money equals power, and the only way to generate enough wealth to become one of the world’s most powerful people is to start a company.
Corporate America is broken for women. They need to blow it up and rebuild it if they want more leadership positions.
We know women fall behind men from the very first promotion.
A 2019 Lean In study called this the “broken rung” in the corporate ladder. The workforce won’t improve for women anytime soon.
The best way to fix this isn’t to blame or exclude men, who are in charge and can be powerful allies. But we also can’t expect them to change all their unconscious biases, which can be blind spots.
Instead, corporate America needs to be blown up and rebuilt, with diversity as a pillar from inception, led by more women and BIPOC founders.
If women want to become as powerful as men, they need to create rivaling fortunes. The only way to do that is to start the next Fortune 500s.
Warren Buffett. Jeff Bezos. Bill Gates. The richest people in the world all started their own companies – or inherited their fortunes from someone who did.
That’s because founders tend to own large chunks of their companies when they exit, far larger portions than employees working for them ever could.
If women want to become as powerful as men, they need to start the next Fortune 500s and create rivaling fortunes.
But in the 204-year history of the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq – where hundreds of companies go public each year – only 20 have been founded and led by women. Eighteen of those IPOs were in just the past seven years.
When women do try to start companies, numerous pitfalls prevent them from scaling their ventures.
For women of color, the investment gap is even wider.
DigitalUndivided is a nonprofit social startup focused on programs and training that foster economic growth in Black and Latinx communities. In 2016 it launched ProjectDiane, a biennial research study that tracks investment in companies founded by Black and Latinx women. Its latest report, released this month, showed some progress for these communities. But not enough.
Total funds raised by Black and Latinx women in 2019 grew to $3.1 billion, ProjectDiane data shows. The number of Black women founders reported to hit the “million-dollar club” in investment rose to 93, compared to 34 in 2018, while 90 Latinx women hit that milestone.
But the report points out glaring gaps. The median seed funding for startups overall is $2.1 million, but for Black and Latinx women founders the median is $475,000. For those raising less than $1 million, the median seed funding drops to $125,000 for Black women and $200,000 for Latinx women.
Since 2018, Black and Latinx women have received only .64% of VC funding.
Since 2018, Black and Latinx women have received only .64% of VC funding.
“Our mission is to create a world where all women own their work, where women have wealth,” Lauren Maillian, the CEO of Digital Undivided, said. “It is only through our jobs, our careers, and our work, that is the path to wealth creation. Not just for women, for all people, but women of color get left behind that.”
“We upskill and re-skill and equip women of color to compete in these spaces and places that are not designed for them to succeed,” Maillian said.
When female founders do get funded, expectations are different
Rent the Runway CEO Jennifer Hyman is one of the most successful female founders. She has been outspoken about the different challenges men and women founders face, from investors and the press.
“I haven’t been given the permission or privilege to lose a billion every quarter,” Hyman said on CNBC, shortly after profitless Uber went public and cash-burning WeWork filed its now rescinded S-1.
Julie Wainwright, the founder and CEO of The Real Real, said she sees three main barriers to entry for women in entrepreneurship. One of them is the expectations women set for themselves.
Women aren’t thinking about starting businesses or planning for outsized success early enough. And when they do, they aren’t dreaming big enough. One survey of 57 women CEOs found that only 12% of them planned to be CEO someday. The rest had to be told it was something they should consider.
There aren’t enough women in venture capital with big funds behind them who can lead large investments and write follow-on checks. “When you raise capital, if you’re running something big, it will require more money, and that person who initially funded you will go back to their fund to lead the next round,” Wainwright says. “And they have to have enough capacity to keep funding you so you’re not left in the cold. . . . You need people with billions behind you.”
There’s no “PayPal mafia” for women who can support female founders, rally behind them, and push through their success. The PayPal mafia refers to the early PayPal employees, including Max Levchin, Joe Lonsdale, and Peter Thiel, who’ve all gone on to be successful entrepreneurs, aided partly by their friendship during PayPal’s startup days. “Those guys have a tremendous network where they’re supporting each other,” Wainwright says. “It’s not a formal thing. But when people come up with ideas, they push them to think bigger. They’ve got the support of the mob once they go. And the mob isn’t there to make sure they’re successful. So because there are not enough women in startups, there are not enough mobs.”
Despite the barriers, it’s time for more women to try. To stop thinking What if it fails? and instead think What if it works?
For an extra nudge, Wainwright knows a widely kept secret: Most successful startup founders aren’t anything special. The difference is they tried, and you didn’t.
“To be honest, half the people that I meet are not a Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or even an Elon Musk,” she said.
“What they are is they’re determined. They have a goal and they have a big vision and they don’t give up, and they did it. They didn’t think about everything that would possibly go wrong. They thought, I am going to do this, I can make this happen.“
Women starting businesses is great for the economy
Gender equality in business isn’t only a moral imperative. When it’s achieved, it improves a company’s bottom line and boosts the global economy.
Companies also perform better when more women are in power. A Bank of America paper found that S&P 500 companies with more diverse boards and a higher percentage of women in leadership positions delivered higher returns on equity.
Fortune 1000 companies with female CEOs have been found to perform three times as well as those led by men.
“Understanding the link between women’s empowerment and the wealth and health of societies is crucial for humanity,” Melinda Gates wrote in “The Moment of Lift.”
“If you want to lift up humanity, empower women, she said. “It is the most comprehensive, pervasive, high-leverage investment you can make in human beings.”
Elon Musk said having a college degree doesn’t mean you have “exceptional ability” during a fireside chat at the Satellite 2020 conference. He added that it’s “not for learning” and “basically for fun.”
Many of the nation’s most popular companies to work for don’t require a college degree, and certain jobs are more likely to be filled with non-college graduates than others, LinkedIn has found.
Top business executives have begun questioning whether college degrees really prepare workers for careers, while some are starting to hire more and more non-college graduates.
Students assume getting a four-year degree – and taking on the thousands of dollars of student-loan debt that comes along with it – is the only way to get your foot in the door at top companies such as Tesla, Apple, and Netflix.
But that isn’t always true. Even the CEO of Tesla doesn’t think you need it.
Musk joined prominent business leaders who have also questioned the need for four-year degrees, such as Apple CEO Tim Cook and Siemens USA CEO Barbara Humpton. Cook said in 2019 that about half of Apple’s US employment last year included people without four-year degrees. Cook reasoned that many colleges do not teach the skills that business leaders need most in their workforce, such as coding.
Humpton also dismissed the idea that a four-year degree guarantees career-readiness: “All too often, job requisitions will say they require a four-year degree, when in fact there’s nothing about the job that truly requires a four-year degree – it merely helped our hiring managers sort of weed through the crowd and get a smaller qualified candidate group,” Humpton said at the White House in 2019.
You don’t need an Ivy League diploma to get a job at Apple or Tesla – but you would get paid more on average if you had one
Now, prominent companies such as Google and Apple are hiring employees who have the skills required to get jobs done, with or without a degree. Glassdoor found firms like Google, Apple, and IBM don’t require a college degree to land a job. Google recently launched a new selection of courses for Google Career Certificate, a six-month program that prepare participants for in-demand jobs.
That being said, college degrees seem to pay off. Workers that hold at least a bachelor’s degree earned $502 more in median weekly earnings than those with just a high school education, according to a May 2020 report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Additionally, the unemployment rate among those with less than a high school degree is more than double that of bachelors degree holders.
But because degrees often require taking on student debt, many Americans cannot afford college degrees. Only 42% of high-school sophomores go on to earn a two-year or four-year degree, per the US Department of Education. Even among students who graduate from college, a significant number of new graduates are underemployed, meaning they work jobs that don’t require a college degree.
Last week, Ray Dalio, investor and founder of the world’s largest hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, gave away 10,000 “charity gift cards” each worth $100. Anyone could claim a gift card and donate it to their charity of choice.
All 10,000 gift cards were claimed within two hours, a sign of the massive need many nonprofits find themselves in due to the coronavirus pandemic’s economic downturn.
Now, other leaders in the business community are joining Dalio in his effort to fund another round of giveaways. The list of leaders include Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom, media mogul and Thrive Global founder Arianna Huffington, and author and podcaster Jay Shetty.
“I was so happy that so many people signed up, but felt terrible that others were closed out,” Dalio said in a social media post.
The number of gift cards to be made available in this upcoming round has yet to be determined, per a spokesperson for Dalio. The new gift card launch is expected this week.
For the famed investor, the initiative is a chance to rethink holiday gifting amid a time of dire need. Dalio has previously spoken about inequality in America, saying in an April interview that America’s jarring inequality is a “national emergency” that is threatening capitalism.
“Imagine the impact we could have if people started giving each other the ability to donate to their favorite charities rather than giving them useless material stuff,” Dalio said in a statement.