Welcome to a different kind of Black Friday special edition. This one's meant to help you money intentionally. And highlight the power women have to make the world a better place with their financial decisions.
The Power of Women and Money, Skimm’d
CFO energy. Women devote more time than men to making family spending decisions. And through their purchases and influence combined, women drive about 80% of consumer purchasing.
Winning investors. Women often say they're not confident about investing, but lack of overconfidence may be an advantage. Because a Fidelity report says their returns outperform men's. Bonus: One survey found female investors are twice as likely as men to say it’s important for the companies they invest in to incorporate ESG policies.
Conscious leaders. Research from the recent Women in the Workplace report from McKinsey found that women leaders do more to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts than men at the same level. While there's still a long way to go, more women than ever were at the helm of Fortune 500 companies in 2021.
Where money meets mindfulness, here's some lingo you need to know.
Consumer activism: Taking a stand with your spending. Aka buying from brands that align with your values and boycotting ones that don’t. The goal: to support businesses that share your beliefs and pressure others to change their practices.
Impact banking: A way to support underserved communities. Depositing funds with a socially responsible bank can help bridge gaps in local housing, jobs, and education. Look for designations like Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) or Minority Depository Institution (MDI).
ESG: Short for “environmental, social, and governance.” It’s a set of criteria used to evaluate companies you might want to invest in. Like businesses that minimize waste or don’t test on animals.
Sin stock: Like ESG’s evil twin. These are shares of companies that are involved in biz some consider problematic. Think: alcohol, tobacco, weapons, gambling, or adult entertainment. Bundled together, they make what's known as "vice funds."
Greenwashing: When companies say one thing and do another with their environmental promises. It often comes in the form of misleading marketing (example: "biodegradable" straws that aren't). But it can also sneak into your investments when fund managers fail to keep eco-friendly promises. See also: pinkwashing and social washing.
Make Good (Money) Choices
If you want to feel good about your budget…
Listen to your heart. The "B" word doesn’t have to be all about restriction or shame. A values-based budget can mean affording all the things that matter to you most — whether it’s seeing the world, spending more time with friends, being on top of the latest tech, or supporting causes you care about. Start by figuring out how much cash you have after your needs are covered, aka your "discretionary income." Divide that among your real spending priorities and goals, and cut anything that doesn't add value to your life.
If you want your money to make a difference…
Put it where your morals are. (Hey, consumer activist.) Depending on what's important to you, you could look for brands that sell products that are sustainable, ethically sourced, locally made, or PETA-approved. You can also buy from socially conscious companies that give back by donating a portion of their profits or products. Like Bombas, Toms, and Patagonia. Pro tip: Yelp lets you filter companies by attributes such as Black-owned, women-owned, and even fully-vaxxed staff.
If you want an easy way to invest with your conscience...
Go for funds. Researching and buying shares of individual companies that align with your values is one (potentially time-consuming) way to do it. But ESG index funds (a type of mutual fund or ETF) let you invest in a wide range of qualifying companies at once. Diversification, managed.
Asking for a Friend
Q: How can you tell whether a company you’re considering investing in is truly aligned with your values?
Rachel J. Robasciotti: You have to start with companies that actually report what they're doing to the public. If they’re being super secretive, that tends to be a sign. Transparency brings accountability. Go to independent third parties that assess companies and look at those lists. Good resources for that are As You Sow and Ethos. And you can go to the Adasina [Robasciotti's investment firm focused on social justice movements] website, to our campaigns section, and find links to datasets for issues of sexual harassment, racial justice, the sub-minimum wage, and soon...climate justice. And investigate.AFSC.org is a fantastic website.
Rachel J. Robasciotti is the founder and CEO of Adasina Social Capital. Her answer has been edited for length and clarity.
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