Financial Feminism

The White House Project, a non-profit which aims to put a woman in The White House as President of the United States, has some great insight and advice on women’s relationship with personal finance.

Several different studies by researchers at Pepperdine University, McKinsey & Co., Catalyst and others—here and abroad—have found a strong, positive link between company profits and the number of women in senior positions.

Whether that means female managers elicit better performance—or that successful companies promote more women, it’s hard to say.

All we know is that the link between leadership and finance falls apart for many women when it comes to their personal finances.

Here we are, at the helm of our own lives, and the personal financial outlook for our gender could hardly be more bleak. Women lag behind men in terms of income, personal savings, retirement savings, general financial knowledge. Even now.

The underlying factors are too numerous for this email. But we’d like to draw attention to one that often afflicts female (and some male) leaders, especially in the public sector, where salaries are often sacrificed in the name of some greater good: meaningful work, civic duty, and so on.

Being able to value something above the number of zeros in your salary is wonderful, but not if you end up mired in what money coach Mikelann Valterra calls, “noble poverty.”

When you live in noble poverty, you tend to believe there is some unnamed virtue in not having money—or that Truly Good People shouldn’t want a lot of it. Your mantra could be something like: “I may be struggling, but my life is about more than money.”

The danger occurs when we deny ourselves the opportunity to earn what we need to thrive—and to truly give back to others.

Here’s the bottom line: No one is going to fix financial inequity for women. We have to recognize our own self-worth, ask for higher salaries, become confident investors, and build our own wealth — especially those of us who strive to lead.

Why? Because to be effective female leaders, it’s critical that we:

* Understand and manage systems. Systems enable order and growth, personally and organizationally.
* Be comfortable enough financially to make the choices, or take the risks that will best enable our success.
* Carve new paths away from the cultural patterns that leave millions of women in poverty (not just the noble kind).
* Offer young women and men a new model to emulate.

The email then goes on to encourage women to sign up for a newsletter about personal finance for women, DailyWorth.

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