Studies show that companies with more women at the top perform better financially. To prove the point, the leader of a professional women’s network is creating an index fund that invests in the top 400 companies with women in senior leadership. We look at women in business and the growing trend toward aligning financial goals and social values.


  • Sara Holoubek Founder and CEO, Luminary Labs
  • Amy Millman President, Springboard Enterprises
  • Andrea Turner Moffitt Senior Vice President, Center for Talent Innovation


  • 13:06:39

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. One of the most senior women in the financial world, recently, announced the launch of an index fund, investing in the top 400 companies with women in senior leadership. Many like the idea of investing in companies that align with their values. But this new index fund is not simply to prove a point, studies show that companies with diversity at the top perform better, financially, over time.

  • 13:07:17

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIAnd some liken women led companies to an emerging market for which there's a great deal of pent up demand. Joining us to discuss this, in our Washington, studio is Amy Millman, president of Springboard Enterprises, a non-profit venture catalyst for women-led companies. Amy Millman, thank you for joining us.

  • 13:07:37

    MS. AMY MILLMANLove to be here, thank you Kojo.

  • 13:07:39

    NNAMDIJoining us from NPR's Bryant Park Studios in New York is Andrea Moffitt, senior vice president of the Center for Talent Innovation. Andrea Moffitt, thank you for joining us.

  • 13:07:50

    MS. ANDREA MOFFITTThank you, it's a pleasure to be here.

  • 13:07:52

    NNAMDIIn the studio with Andrea is Sara Holoubek, founder and CEO of Luminary Labs. Sara Holoubek, thank you for joining us.

  • 13:08:02

    MS. SARA HOLOUBEKThank you.

  • 13:08:03

    NNAMDIYou too can join this conversation, give us a call at 800-433-8850. Would you be interested in investing with companies with women in leadership positions? Andrea, the list of women heading up fortune 500 companies is impressive, IBM, Pepsi, Lockheed Martin to name a few. All have female CEO's but the list is still relatively short. Where are we in terms of women holding senior positions and board seats in major companies?

  • 13:08:34

    MOFFITTWe're making progress but there's still a lot of work to be done, Kojo. I think, we found, at the Center for Talent Innovation, we look -- have looked at this issue over the course of the last 10 years and, in fact, right now we see about 19 percent of women who represent board seats. We're lagging, the EU, which is at about 25 percent. But we are seeing some progress. Our, our think tank has focused on how we can get more women to the top, to break that glass ceiling. And a series of research studies that have been published, many of which through, have been published the Harvard Business Review.

  • 13:09:14

    NNAMDIAndrea, a woman who has been a leader in the financial world, for a long time, Sallie Krawcheck, announced recently that she was partnering with an investment company, to launch an index fund of companies with significant numbers of women in senior leadership positions. What's the idea behind this index fund, focused on women led companies?

  • 13:09:34

    MOFFITTWell, Kojo, I think it's really two-fold. In fact, we at the center, just published a new study on female investors, globally. And Sallie, in fact, was one of the advisors on this research called Harnessing The Power of the Purse: Female Investors and Global Opportunities for Growth. And in this research, we in fact, have some really compelling data points supporting the business case around the demand among women who want to invest in organizations with diversity in senior leadership.

  • 13:10:05

    MOFFITTIn fact, globally, we found 77 percent of women said they want to invest in companies with diversity and leadership. And that is very consistent with a broader focus for female investors who 90 percent, globally, across the six countries that we reached, that was the U.S., U.K., India, China, Hong Kong and Singapore, said that they want to invest in companies that are aligned and have a social oriented impact.

  • 13:10:33

    NNAMDIAmy Millman, we should probably remind people what an index fund is and does, can you help us out?

  • 13:10:39

    MILLMANWell, if you look at this, it's sort of like a mutual fund. Somebody decides there is a portfolio of companies, securities that you want to invest in, that kind of head your bets, kind of look on -- in an area where you can then minimize your risk of investing. You know, some of us like to invest individually in stocks and companies and some, some of us like to say, I can't make my own decision. And so, in an index fund, it sort of takes it to the next level.

  • 13:11:10

    MILLMANYou kind of look at a really identified cohort and say, I really want to invest in this side, not just across the board. I really like transportation or I really like this geography. And, in this case, what Sallie has said is, we're gonna invest in women.

  • 13:11:30

    NNAMDIIndeed, you've said this fund identified a need and you've likened companies with women in leadership to an emerging market. Can you explain?

  • 13:11:38

    MILLMANI love that term, emerging market. It's funny, women have been around since day one...

  • 13:11:42

    NNAMDIAnd you're now emerging, yes.

  • 13:11:43

    MILLMAN...and now we're emerging. But, you know, for instance, at our organization, we work with women who are not running public companies, per se, but privately funded and privately managed companies. We feel that at every single level, you know, you need an onramp to get to that public status or to, as we say, billion, billion dollar businesses where you begin to start being attractive to others who would put investments in your company.

  • 13:12:10

    MILLMANAnd so, you know, we start at the start up phase and work towards, you know, the IPO and, and try to create this opportunity for seeing more women building businesses that others would invest in.

  • 13:12:24

    NNAMDIAndrea, you also point at studies showing that women want to invest in companies with demand leadership. You -- with, with diverse leadership. You've already identified at Wharton Study, showing 77 percent of women who, globally, who want to invest in companies with diversity in leadership. Yet, you also found in your research, that women are less confident investors, here in the U.S., in particular. Can you talk a little bit about that and about what that means in terms of how and where women invest?

  • 13:12:52

    MOFFITTAbsolutely. And in fact, the 77 percent was a new statistic that was just published in the research from the Center. And the Wharton Study looked at why diversity is good business. And in fact, McKenzie and catalyst also have good, good research that shows that, with companies in diversity and leadership there is better return on equity and better performance among companies.

  • 13:13:19

    MOFFITTWith regards to the confidence question, we looked deeply as we analyzed female investors across six countries and we found, not surprisingly, a gender gap between men and women as investors across each country. But interestingly, the gender gap with greatest here in the U.S. And in fact, we found women in the U.S. were the least financially confident then women in any of the other five countries we looked at.

  • 13:13:44

    MOFFITTFor example, 34 percent of men felt confident as investors while only 19 percent of women. Yet interestingly in the U.S., we actually conducted a, a mini financial literacy assessment and 35 percent of women who responded to our research survey, in fact, actually passed this. So in the U.S. women were more, had greater financial acumen then they did confidence. And we, we actually also found that women who were, had lower confidence level were less likely to invest in values based investing or give as much as they said they want to on a philanthropic front.

  • 13:14:23

    MOFFITTSo and one could infer that perhaps this confidence is a barrier for women, better leveraging agency around the causes and companies they care about investing in.

  • 13:14:32

    NNAMDIIn case you're just joining us, we're having a conversation about investing and diversity in general and in women, in particular, inviting your calls at 800-433-8850. We're talking with Andrea Moffitt, senior vice president of the Center For Talent Innovation. Amy Millman is the president of Springboard Enterprises, that's a non-profit venture catalyst for women led companies. And Sara Holoubek is Founder and CEO of Luminary Labs. We're taking your calls at 800-433-8850. Would you be interested investing in companies with women in leadership positions? Do you support social or other causes through your investments. You can also send e-mail to

  • 13:15:13

    NNAMDISara Holoubek, I hear about this term when we started doing our due diligence for this topic. When we heard about senior management in companies, I want to clarify, what's the C-Sweet?

  • 13:15:28

    HOLOUBEKThe C-Sweet is a C level executive, such as a CEO, Chief Executive Officer, or a COO, Chief Operating Officer, or a CFO, Chief Financial Officer.

  • 13:15:39

    NNAMDIThey all exist in the C world, in the C-Sweets. Sara, it does seem that a lot of momentum today about this idea of socially conscious businesses. We hear about companies with a double bottom line or even a triple bottom line, what does that mean?

  • 13:15:55

    HOLOUBEKWell, historically, organizations, private sector organizations, in particular, are designed or have been designed to return something to the investor and typically monetary, in nature. And today, when we're looking at a double or a triple bottom line, we're looking at factors other than money. We might be looking at social good, we might be looking at other positive effects tonalities in the shape or form of, say, social responsibility.

  • 13:16:22

    NNAMDIAmy, the idea of investing in companies that align with our values is not new. Calvert funds is one that's been doing it for decades, investing in socially and environmentally conscious companies. Can you talk about that?

  • 13:16:34

    HOLOUBEKWell, I -- we like to invest in things that we feel strongly about. And people have been doing that for all -- forever. And so, it makes sense to look at those markets where you can get a return or that you can have an impact. And that's why we staked out the whole early stage companies because we felt there weren't enough women focusing on it or were getting money for or refinancing or support for their businesses.

  • 13:17:04

    HOLOUBEKAnd how are you going to develop them? Sort of like in the workforce. You know, if you don't develop talent and you don't provide them with a marketplace, you don't get anywhere. And so we -- so if you look at the whole spectrum of what Sallie Krawcheck is planning with Ellevate and what, what all of us are kind of in the, in the ecosystem of, how do we develop this, this talent base? This underserved market and create different ways of other people engaging with them and learning more about what they are. And it's the only way that we know how to begin to, kind of, spotlight this market that really needs a lot more resources and support and attention.

  • 13:17:47

    NNAMDIWe got an e-mail from Alex in Bethesda who writes, "I think an index fund of women led companies is a great idea. It serves two purposes, one, I think it would be a smart financial bet, two, it would support those companies and signal the market that it's time to move into the 21st century." Amy, the idea of shifting the frame to include other values beyond just the bottom line is interesting. One academic came up with an idea for a completely different economic index, can you talk about that?

  • 13:18:17

    HOLOUBEKWell, there's, there's such an interesting new approach to things based on your perspective, you know. And we always said, that if you have a team that has different perspectives, not just focused on one area, you're likely to get a richer and a better return for your company and the impact that you have. And so you bring this variety of talent and interest that change it. You know, with our global world right now, you have this amazing opportunity to really, to really take advantage of a diverse talent base.

  • 13:18:53

    HOLOUBEKAnd so it makes, also, sense if I'm going to invest, I'm not just going to invest in, you know, these -- this specific -- you know, Harvard graduates who start companies, who happen to be 25-year-olds or whatever. I'm going to invest in something that's going to spread my opportunity out to a wider global approach.

  • 13:19:13

    NNAMDIAndrea, one of the reasons to invest in women led companies, however, does include the bottom line. There is research around the performance of companies with diversity at the top. What does it show?

  • 13:19:24

    MOFFITTAbsolutely. There's been a number of studies including one from McKenzie at Credit Swiss Institute, published a study. All of which have pointed to higher returns on capital, return on equity and even total return on shareholders. And does what is that all mean? Ultimately, you know, companies better perform with diversity and that specifically looking at female diversity in leadership.

  • 13:19:49

    MOFFITTI'll just note that we, in fact, also have looked at this issue, at the Center For Innovation, in a recent study, innovation diversity and market growth. And we, in fact, show that it is critically important to have inherently diverse workforce and leadership at decision making tables. But it's also important to have what we call a choir diversity. And that is someone who is not necessarily inherently diverse, typically the white men in leadership in most organizations who, by experience, either gender smarts, cultural fluency or LGBT awareness, have some form of acquired diversity. And that is someone who is not necessarily inherently diverse. Typically the white men in leadership in most organizations who by experience either gender smarts, cultural fluency or LGB awareness have some form of acquired diversity.

  • 13:20:23

    MOFFITTAnd we were able to show that companies with these two dimensions of diversity and leadership were 70 percent more likely to capture a new market. Huge impact on innovation potential of a company when you see this combination of both inherent diversity and acquired diversity in leadership that really allows you to get the best out of diverse perspectives within a company's -- within the organization.

  • 13:20:47

    NNAMDIWhat acquired diversity?

  • 13:20:50

    MOFFITTAcquired diversity can be a combination of attributes. Really it's an experience someone's had that allows them to better appreciate the value of difference. So that could be gender smarts or, you know, for example cultural awareness. Perhaps you've lived and worked abroad in a multinational corporation and you appreciate what it means to value different cultures coming to the table in their perspectives, as an example.

  • 13:21:16

    NNAMDISo how can diversity promote innovation? You mentioned that you'd also looked at that.

  • 13:21:20

    MOFFITTYes. And we found that companies with these two dimensions of diversity are much more likely to have an inclusive leadership culture that creates a speak up, listen up environment where the ideas of a diverse talent are more likely to be heard. In fact, we found that companies without two dimensions of diversity are 60 percent more likely to suffer from group think. And, you know, there's been actually an IMF study that pointed to the financial crisis that looked at how much diversity was lacking at the table in really being able to see the challenges that the financial crisis would present.

  • 13:22:02

    MOFFITTSo again, it's this idea of better recognizing and hearing the diverse perspectives of talent in your midst and ensuring there's no group think at the decision-making table.

  • 13:22:11

    NNAMDIGot to take a short break. When we come back, we'll continue our conversation on the relationship between diversity on investing and about investing in women in particular. But we're interested in hearing from you at 800-433-8850. What kinds of challenges have you experienced as a woman in the corporate world? Are you a woman business owner? What led you to go into business for yourself, 800-433-8850? I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 13:24:32

    NNAMDIWelcome back to our conversation about investing in women. We're talking with Amy Millman, president of Springboard Enterprises, a nonprofit venture catalyst for women-led companies. Sara Holoubek is founder and CEO of Luminary Labs and Andrea Moffitt is senior vice-president of the Center for Talent Innovation. If you have a comment or question for us, give us a call at 800-433-8850 or send us email to Sara, you realize that your company had diversity issues. How did that come about?

  • 13:25:05

    HOLOUBEKYes. It's quite funny. Having left an organization that was very male dominated and didn't have a very welcoming culture to women, I started my own company. And about a year into it I realized that we had too many women. So I realized that diversity is really a pattern recognition problem and that as a CEO and founder I had an obligation, not only a financial obligation, I had a moral obligation to encourage diversity.

  • 13:25:31

    NNAMDIAnd so you describe it as a pattern recognition problem. Could you explain that, please?

  • 13:25:38

    HOLOUBEKYes. Almost every company makes use of patterns and the recognition of patterns to do what they do. If we see that a market wants a product, we produce that product. If we see that there is a challenge, let's say an infrastructure problem in a country that's very common that's a pattern, then we try to fix it.

  • 13:25:56

    HOLOUBEKAnd so what happens on the inside of the organization is also a pattern that we must recognize. And I don't know of any CEO who does not like to do things that benefit business outcome meaning profitability. And if diversity is one of those components then absolutely, the CEO must address it.

  • 13:26:14

    NNAMDIAmy, it makes sense the more perspectives you have represented in a company the more likely you're able to, for example, connect with different types of consumers. So what can women bring to leadership positions? It's already been mentioned that there weren't a lot of women in the room when we were trying to address the economic meltdown that we had, but go ahead.

  • 13:26:34

    MILLMANIt's funny, there was a headline in an Irish -- or actually I think it was Iceland where they wrote the -- they bring in women to solve the problems, the meltdown, the financial crisis in 2008 that white men started. And we always thought that was kind of interesting in that, you know, let's try something new. They couldn't make it any worse than what they did.

  • 13:26:59

    MILLMANAnd I think that that just goes to the whole perspective. Actually, there's a really interesting study that's been going on for oh, probably about 15 years now, that Babson College and the Kaufman Foundation have instituted to really look at the engagement of -- in entrepreneurs in various countries all around the world. And at some point they had this big ah-ha moment and they said, for those countries that have more women entrepreneurs and women in leadership positions and women in the government, you begin to see the economy as stronger and more engaged.

  • 13:27:39

    MILLMANFor us that was kind of a no brainer. But for the rest of the world it was, oh, so if we invest in women and we engage more women in our population, will -- our economies will be stronger. We'll be a lot more innovative and entrepreneurial in sustaining our way of life or increasing or advancing our way of life. And I -- you know, I don't care how they get to it as long as people realize the more your population is engaged in the process of developing civilization and economies, the better off we are.

  • 13:28:12

    NNAMDIYou say you're finished with the talking part of your work. You're onto the doing part. Can you explain?

  • 13:28:18

    MILLMANWell, some years ago we all spent a lot of time sitting and talking about why women aren't getting this or why people aren't investing in women or why -- whatever it is. And we said, you know, it's -- the time for talking is over. Let's do something. So we staked out the whole opportunity of getting more women into the whole process of raising capital and building scalable businesses so that we would have a lot more, you know, case studies and people that -- people can -- women can look at and emulate and say, I could do that too.

  • 13:28:57

    MILLMANBut also to create this whole world of investors that beginning to start to get women who have built businesses to understand how to invest. And they invest in -- as Sara said, in pattern recognition. We like to invest in things that we know and that we can relate to.

  • 13:29:14

    NNAMDI800-433-8850, would you be interested in investing in companies with women in leadership positions? Do you support social or other causes through your investments? Give us a call, 800-433-8850. Let's go to Steve in Bethesda, Md. Steve, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:29:32

    STEVEKojo, I'm calling to pick a nit, okay. The fund you're talking about, the class is called the Sector Fund. That's where you invest in the sector of the market. Index funds are funds that follow published indexes like the Dow Jones or the Standard & Poor's. They also have a mix of companies but the people who are running it don't choose the companies. In this case, Sector Fund is the right word that you -- that us wonks would have you use to describe a fund that a chunk is out a piece of the market.

  • 13:30:12

    STEVEAs far as women-run businesses, if you look back in history, remember there was a time when everyone was all excited about microloans in the less developed parts of the world, Grameen Bank was a leader.

  • 13:30:24


  • 13:30:26

    STEVEAnd they would only lend money to women. And they changed the world by making low micro -- tiny loans that -- and in underdeveloped places. And it carefully chose only women entrepreneurs. So history is coming back.

  • 13:30:47

    NNAMDIThank you very much for your call. Amy, how do you feel about the nit that Steve wanted to pick?

  • 13:30:53

    MILLMANWell, once we hear from Sally what exactly her index fund is going to look like, then we'll be able to actually determine whether it's really a sector fund or an index fund. But given the fact that she cut her teeth in Wall Street, she kind of knows her pathway. And we're just excited to see where she's going to take this.

  • 13:31:15

    NNAMDIThere was a time when women in leadership positions didn't talk about being a woman at the top at all. You point to Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard.

  • 13:31:26

    MILLMANIt's really true. Actually we always used to say that all the women that we work with are PhDs or double PhDs. And what they do not self identify is being a woman. You know, they self identify in their field of interest and yet as they get along they realize that there is a commonality. And as there are more women who are their peers you begin to see a difference. And when others start to pay attention to their businesses and their opportunities then you start to see a greater interest in the public at large. And so I really think that again, that the ability to cast a spotlight on this emerging market is an idea that its time has come.

  • 13:32:14

    NNAMDISara, on the other hand, there are still challenges out there for women in particular, and perhaps we cannot assume that younger women entering the workforce more recently don't face these issues. Can you tell us a little bit about what you encountered as an executive at a company which shall remain nameless?

  • 13:32:30

    HOLOUBEKAbsolutely. So in the job prior to starting my own company, I encountered a few situations where not only was the environment not welcoming to women, but actually shut women out of conversations. So as the chief strategy officer, I was responsible for putting together the board package on a quarterly basis. And yet I was never invited to the board meeting. And when I asked about the board dinner, you know, very informal gathering of men, so can I at least go to the board dinner. And they said, well why don't you stay out of the boys club which, as we know, is illegal.

  • 13:33:05

    HOLOUBEKBut, you know, unfortunately I think women today feel that they don't want to be known as a disrupter. And...

  • 13:33:12

    NNAMDISo you didn't file a lawsuit.

  • 13:33:14

    HOLOUBEKI did not file a lawsuit. I left and started my own company. So I decided to create a culture that's more welcoming to women. There's no boy's club, there's no women's club.

  • 13:33:23

    NNAMDIYou ended up, as you pointed out, founding your own company. That's one way, I guess, to set your own terms.

  • 13:33:28


  • 13:33:29

    NNAMDIAnd you found that women came in droves to work for your company. What are they looking for?

  • 13:33:35

    HOLOUBEKWell, I started the company during the depths of the recession. So in 2009 we were all trying to figure out what was going to happen next. And it was interesting. I had a brand new company and women very eagerly raised their hand to be either full time employees, part time employees or subcontractors. Men did not really want to join the company. They wanted a corner office. They wanted a fancy title and I didn't have that when I started the company.

  • 13:34:01

    HOLOUBEKAnd so what I ended up with was a really nice talent base of very smart and successful women who probably made more money than they would have otherwise during the recession working for Luminary Labs. Fast forward five years and now we have men on staff and we look for the bet candidates period. But it was -- it took about I would say three years before men started raising their hands and asking for opportunities.

  • 13:34:26

    NNAMDIAndrea Moffitt, Amy Hillman (sic), what do you draw from that experience, starting with you Andrea?

  • 13:34:33

    MOFFITTWell, it's interesting. We work very closely with a number of global organizations. And we do find that, to the point earlier, women often do get shut out of the tops of organizations. In fact, we've done a lot of work on the topic of sponsorship. And we found that while women continue to advance to what we call the marzipan layer, that thick rich sticky layer just below the top. In fact we see about 35 percent of middle management to upper middle management represents female talent. But they -- it's very difficult to move up into what can be perilous straits of upper management.

  • 13:35:12

    MOFFITTAnd one big reason we found a big barrier for women is lack of sponsorship. In fact, we found in our research that women are half as likely to have a sponsor as men. And those are the people who ensure that you get to the board meeting, that really give you that visibility with senior executives or even externally with clients. And that it can be very difficult for women to built sponsor relationships because sponsorship is really a relationship built on trust. And trust is something that's very difficult to cross the grounds of difference.

  • 13:35:46

    MOFFITTAnd so not just women but in fact we find multicultural talent as well. In fact, multicultural talent is 63 percent less likely to have a sponsor. So, you know, even more difficult in many cases. But companies increasingly, I think, are recognizing this and are putting in different jaded investments. In fact, 19 of the companies that are part of our taskforce at the Center for Talent Innovation that represents about 85 global organizations, have launched sponsorship programs that are specifically targeted to ensuring that diverse talent has a better opportunity to develop and build sponsor relationships.

  • 13:36:26

    NNAMDIAmy Millman.

  • 13:36:28

    MILLMANSo it's so interesting when you ask that question because what we find is that there are -- that the women who start these businesses, until they are successful nobody pays very much attention to it. Sometimes they think that they're still running hobby businesses. And when you get a success like we have with companies like Zipcar or Constant Contact or iRobot, all of a sudden everybody wants to come and invest. But before that, you know, a company that was sort of analogous to that would not have even been -- you know, would've gotten the money whereas the women-led company wouldn't.

  • 13:37:10

    MILLMANAnd there have been so many research studies. There was one done at Columbia, one done out of University of Washington, St. Louis where they take a company where there is a woman CEO and a male CEO and they ask whether or not you would invest in that company. And invariably they say, we'll invest in the man but the woman-led company doesn't seem like one that we would. It's the same company but they wouldn't invest in the woman-led company.

  • 13:37:38

    MILLMANAnd so there are some real basic behavioral changes that have to happen. I think that what happens is that if these companies are successful and they're returning investments and they're visible, everything's going to change.

  • 13:37:52

    NNAMDIHere is Jim in Gaithersburg, Md. Jim, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:37:58

    JIMHi. I have a comment and a question. There's a book written by someone at that the title of the book is "Warren Buffett" -- I hope everybody knows who Warren Buffett is, one of the most successful investors of all time. The book title was "Warren Buffett Invests Like a Girl."

  • 13:38:25

    JIMAnd the other comment I had -- I just had a question. How does this nonprofit who invests in business keep continuing? Usually someone who invests in business tries to make some kind of profit and you have financial incentive for someone who invests. I'll take my answer off the air. Thanks.

  • 13:38:43

    NNAMDIWhich nonprofit are you referring to?

  • 13:38:46


  • 13:38:47

    NNAMDIAmy Millman's, Springboard Enterprises?

  • 13:38:49


  • 13:38:50

    NNAMDIOkay. Amy.

  • 13:38:52

    MILLMANWell, so we don't invest financial capital. We invest human capital in these businesses and create opportunities for access to people who would invest. And so our relationships with the 556 companies that we've worked with over 15 years has been one of helping them get that access and then maintaining that relationship with those companies who then support us.

  • 13:39:24

    NNAMDIWhat do you take from that title that he mentioned, "Warren Buffett Invests Like a Girl?"

  • 13:39:28

    MILLMANWell, you know, Warren Buffett has actually been very, very outspoken about the fact that he has a different way of investing. And he looks at companies the whole holistic look at a company and who their management is, what their projections are. It's not just, you know, your basic algorithm. He has his own algorithm. And so he looks at whether he really wants to do business with those people. You know, is -- almost a social connect that he believes in the management. And, yeah, it's some criteria that I think resonates with us.

  • 13:40:05

    NNAMDISara Holoubek, we got an email from Pam. And we're not sure what the source of Pam's research is, but she writes, "Research has shown that women solve problems using both sides of their brain, while men use only one side, typically the left side. Because women use both sides, they're better at organizing, but also they can better visualize or see the consequences of their decision and therefore reduce harm. Now wouldn't it be better to have the head of a company solve problems with their whole brain rather than with half of their brain? To which, Sara Holoubek, you say?

  • 13:40:37

    HOLOUBEKI would say theoretically, yes. However, I don't believe that men are better than women or women are better than men at really anything. I think diversity really comes down to having different opinions, different experiences and different approaches, that when put together create a whole brain.

  • 13:40:55

    NNAMDIGot to take a short break. If you have calls, stay on the line. If you'd like to, the number is 800-433-8850. What kinds of challenges have you experienced as a woman in the corporate world? Are you a woman business owner? What led you to go into business for yourself? 800-433-8850. You can send email to Or go to our website, I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 13:43:15

    NNAMDIWelcome back to our conversation. We're talking about investing in women with Amy Millman, president of Springboard Enterprises, a nonprofit venture catalyst for women-led companies. Andrea Moffitt is senior vice president of the Center for Talent Innovation. And Sara Holoubek is founder and CEO of Luminary Labs. If you'd like to call us, give us a call at 800-433-8850. Let's go to Laia in Washington D.C. Laia, I'll be with you in one second. Here we go. Laia, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:43:47

    LAIAHi, Kojo. Hi, guest panel. I am calling because I'm very curious about whether the gender of the people doing the investing is ever -- making the investment decisions has been studied in research. So when we have research that says, for example, as was cited earlier that given a choice between the same company and thinking that the CEO is a woman and thinking that the CEO is a man will tend to skew what the investors will say about investing in it.

  • 13:44:18

    LAIAWhat about if the investor, the person making the decision, is a man or a woman? Does it break down by gender? Or do women also prefer investing in a company run by a man? Or are there no women making investment decisions? That's my question.

  • 13:44:32

    NNAMDIAndrea Moffitt?

  • 13:44:34

    MOFFITTYeah, now this is a great question. We actually looked deeply at that issue as part of our research at the Center for Talent Innovation. And we found it -- well, I cited earlier, 77 percent of women globally want to invest in companies with diversity in senior leadership. Here in the U.S., that breakdown was 52 percent of women want to invest in diversity in senior leadership and 42 percent of men. So in fact we saw a bit more of a gender gap here in the U.S. around the demand in the marketplace, if you will, for investors. Women investors being much more compelled to invest in companies with diversity in senior leadership than men.

  • 13:45:14

    MOFFITTBut we still saw, you know, frankly a higher number than we had initially anticipated. And we also see that women very much so are seeking again this opportunity to invest in companies that promote social wellbeing, even more so than men. In fact, as we looked at the female investors' differentiated value proposition, we found that women, like men, are seeking a financial independence. They're seeking financial security when it comes to their investing. But once that's achieved, in many ways, we found women want from their money what they want from their careers.

  • 13:45:50

    MOFFITTSo this idea of being able to derive greater meaning and value and effect bigger social change in terms of how they're looking at how they want to allocate their financial resources.

  • 13:46:02

    NNAMDILaia, does that answer your question?

  • 13:46:04

    LAIAYes, thank you. That is quite clear. I would follow up with just wondering what percentage -- where are women economically in America in terms of being the one with money to invest? I do wonder a little about that.

  • 13:46:20

    MOFFITTGreat. We actually looked at that because we very much wanted to get a fresh look at the market opportunity that female investors represent. And in fact, in the U.S. we found that the purse, if you will, that women wield as decision-makers -- not just influencers, but actually as financial decision-makers at the table, represents $11.2 trillion of investable assets. That's nearly 40 percent of the total investable assets in the U.S. And I should mention, this is a number that is representative of the respondents to our survey that focused on those who had over $500,000 of investable assets, over $100,000 of income.

  • 13:47:01

    MOFFITTBut certainly it is a tremendous market opportunity. One that we found that is in fact vastly untapped. In the U.S. we found over 40 percent of women do not have a financial advisor. And that -- but yet women themselves, in fact, also could be leaving money on the table. In the U.S. we found women without a financial advisor, about 9 percent sitting in cash versus 20 percent -- I'm sorry, 20 percent sitting in cash for those who do not have a financial advisor. Whereas only 9 percent have a allocation to cash for those who do have a financial advisor.

  • 13:47:39

    MOFFITTSo the bottom line, women represent a huge market opportunity. But we see that there's, you know, an even greater opportunity -- a call to action, if you will -- for women to be even more engaged as investors and putting their money to work to ensure that it is working for them.

  • 13:47:53

    NNAMDIAmy Millman, you're doing an interesting project with a big executive search firm, looking at the characteristics of CEOs. Can you talk about that and how women fare on this?

  • 13:48:04

    MILLMANWell, there are two pathways to this big idea of running businesses. One is to go climb up a ladder. And Korn Ferry has a vast body of knowledge based on surveys they've done of all the CEOs or, as we said before, C-level individuals that they would source for large corporations. But those characteristics are not necessarily the same characteristics that you'll see in an entrepreneurial person, somebody who has chosen the other pathway. You know, leaving the corporations, like Sara has done, and started their own business requires a different style and a different leadership.

  • 13:48:47

    MILLMANNot necessarily male or female, just different. And so we decided that many of the women that we know who have started entrepreneurial companies may have a different motivation, a different focus and a different leadership style than what you see in corporations. And so Korn Ferry was interested enough, curious to see, okay, was it different? Were those characteristics different? So they're participating with us to source new information that may provide them with a different outlook on how they look for talent.

  • 13:49:20

    NNAMDIGot an email from Julia, who writes, "I'm immensely enjoying the discussion on investing more in diverse companies. However, I feel that and fairly obvious dimension of the conversation is missing. The U.S. has a notoriously poor set of policies to accommodate women in the workplace -- no guarantee of paid maternity leave, lack of proper daycare, stigma against breastfeeding, et cetera -- while innovation in the private sector is great. I'd like to know how your panelists envision partnering with lawmakers to create a better workplace environment for women." So writes Julia.

  • 13:49:53

    NNAMDIWell, the President today launched an initiative on working families, including work-life balance. He was quoted as saying things like, time off for the birth of a child, and not just women's issues. Are these issues gaining traction? And this question is for all of you. I'll start with you Sara Holoubek.

  • 13:50:11

    HOLOUBEKYes. I believe very strongly that as a CEO I have the responsibility to create a workplace that is friendly to women. I had a baby 20 months ago. I was the first person in my company to have a baby while employed. And so my maternity experience became our maternity policy. And what I found was, as a CEO, I actually could take maternity leave. And I took two and a half months out of the office. And the way we did it is that we prepared. We prepared incredibly well. And as a result, the company was not actually put at risk, as many investors or employees or other observers think.

  • 13:50:49

    HOLOUBEKWhen a CEO of an early-stage company takes leave, the CEO has the opportunity to actually make the company stronger, by transferring information to leadership, to accelerate hiring, to become more agile. And as a result, the company actually became much stronger. And so we take the same approach with employees. After I returned from maternity leave, I hired somebody who was six months pregnant. She had her baby. She came back. If you're a good talent before you have a baby, you're going to be a good talent after you have the baby.

  • 13:51:17

    NNAMDIAmy Millman?

  • 13:51:18

    MILLMANWell, if you look at the -- Marissa Mayer. I mean she was hired right when she was pregnant. It didn't deter Yahoo from saying, this is the right person for the job, and for Marissa to figure out how does she manage that new challenge. A tremendous responsibility. I used to keep a whole bulletin board of all of the babies that our entrepreneurs had birthed while they were birthing their businesses. And then it covered the wall and so I decided it was time...

  • 13:51:49

    NNAMDIYou ran out of wall space.

  • 13:51:50

    MILLMANI ran out of wall space. But, you know, we've always said -- and maybe this is a stereotype -- but that, you know, women -- busy women can handle all kinds of things. We multitask extremely well. And so I honestly believe that once you get over that hump of, again, behavior change, you begin to see a wide-open space of opportunity and, as Sara says, agile management styles, which are, you know, what really needs to happen in all businesses these days in order to be sustainable and to be successful.

  • 13:52:29

    NNAMDIYet there are several businesses generally identified as small businesses, Andrea Moffitt, who will say, we simply can't afford to do that.

  • 13:52:39

    MOFFITTYou know, that's -- it's a good question. I think one of the things that we've been doing on this topic of moving policy in Washington, is leveraging the learnings of many of our 85 organizations that are part of our task force. We have 200 best practices of what companies can do. And in many ways, there are opportunities for the private sector to put some pressure and influence on Washington from a policy standpoint to see how we can address some of these legacy programs and policies that haven't changed, and in fact in many ways lag the rest of the world.

  • 13:53:15

    MOFFITTI think for small businesses there are certainly considerations, in a small team. But like, you know, like Sara pointed out, she is a small business, very much so, and found a way to come up with a policy. And our organization as well is a small business at the Center for Talent Innovation and we've found ways to craft policies and appropriate programs that really work and enable an environment that allow women to succeed when they want to have some flexibility and time off for family.

  • 13:53:45

    NNAMDIBelle in Silver Spring, Md., is looking for some guidance. Belle, your turn. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:53:50

    BELLEThank you, Kojo. And hello to the panel. I am wondering if the panel could give some guidance as to where a woman -- an older woman in her retirement years, for example, who doesn't have a spouse that she's making decisions with -- how can she find a financial advisor that will approach her and discuss with her in a way that is more gender neutral or at least more of a -- on an equal basis? As opposed to somebody who will come in and just tell what do to. Because I think the idea of a female financial advisor is great. But I don't know how to advise my friend as to where she could look.

  • 13:54:35

    NNAMDIAmy Millman.

  • 13:54:36

    MILLMANIt's so interesting that you say that, because I look at the same thing with our entrepreneurs who ask the question, how do I find the right investor for me? And in this case, I always say, it's a serious due-diligence process. This is -- not all investor money is the same. Not all wealth managers are the same. Not all -- any -- you have to go out and find and talk to as many people as you possibly can so you get that synergy of goals. And, you know, once you do all of that work and talk to as many people, you'll see which ones are aligned with your interests.

  • 13:55:14

    NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Belle. Amy, there's been a great deal of debate around women in business in the past year or two. Just over a year ago, Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, sparked a huge amount of debate with her book "Lean In," in which she suggests that women too often internalize societal gender roles and that they have to aim for leadership positions. Where has that debate taken us, would you say?

  • 13:55:37

    MILLMANWell, I think any time you start to raise some of these thorny issues that many of us haven't really talked about, because we've been trying to get along in an environment that's not women-friendly. And at some point, you know, somebody had to basically open up the kimono, as we say, and say this is how the world is. And, you know, we've been telling women for many, many years now, you know, here's who you're going to have to deal with. This is how you have to deal with it.

  • 13:56:07

    MILLMANYou have to make a choice whether or not you're going to go and work in that environment and then change from the inside how things go. But you need to -- somebody once told me ages ago, Amy, your job is to infiltrate. Go in there, change, change behavior from the inside, change -- there are other people that are changing it from the outside, but participate. And I always say, you know, for our folks, entrepreneurship is not a spectator sport. You've got to get your hands dirty. You've got to get in there. You have to, in order to be a player.

  • 13:56:37

    MILLMANAnd so I kind of look at it this way. What she said was, I really, you know, we really need to face our fears and face the fact that we haven't been up-front and center about what we need, how to engage. We're just passive. Let's be active. And I think that's what Sally's trying to do with this fund is, we're going to put our money where our mouth is.

  • 13:56:58

    NNAMDIFinal question for you, Sara Holoubek. Anne-Marie Slaughter, the highly accomplished former State Department official under Hilary Clinton famously declared in an Atlantic Magazine article two years ago that women still, quoting here, "can't have it all." Would you agree? Is a high-powered career still a choice that compromises family life. It doesn't seem to have affected yours adversely.

  • 13:57:19

    HOLOUBEKWell I think what she says is that she believes that women can have it all, but that our current society that has explicitly excluded women for a millennia doesn't make it easy. And so I believe that it is the responsibility of founders, CEOs, boards of directors and investors to create those conditions for success so that women can have it all. I think if we go back 5,000, 10,000 years, women didn't just sit in a hut and do nothing at all, all day. We all had our different roles and we were all contributing towards our common group. And so today we just live in a very different environment. And those who hold power -- power in terms of dollars or position or...

  • 13:58:00

    NNAMDII'm afraid...

  • 13:58:00

    HOLOUBEK...or anything else, must make that decision.

  • 13:58:03

    NNAMDIThank you very much. Sara Holoubek is founder and CEO of Luminary Labs. Andrea Moffitt is senior vice president of the Center for Talent Innovation. And Amy Millman is the president of Springboard Enterprises, a nonprofit venture catalyst for women-led companies. Thank you all for joining us. And thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

Topics + Tags


comments powered by Disqus
Most Recent Shows