According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2022, it will take another 132 years to close the global gender gap. As women and co-founders of The Beam Network, we may not agree on everything, but we certainly agree on one thing - this is unacceptable.
While gender parity is a passion and shared purpose in our work, we all have different reasons why we wanted to create The Beam Network. While divergent views can add complexity to running a business, the diversity of thought and perspective is vital for our work to succeed.
As we reflect on nearly two years of teaching our curriculum, it's an understatement to say it's been a learning experience. We learned about building a business, we got to know our incredible members, we disagreed, and we learned a lot about ourselves (more on that in our next post).
Looking back at our progress over our first two years, we thought it was important to revisit our different reasons for starting The Beam Network.
Bertha's top three reasons:
Spoiler alert: The opportunity to build a business for women investors, by women investors.
Women are a vastly underserved group of investors. In Western Europe, women investors now control roughly a third of total assets under management (AUM), valued at some €4.6 trillion, according to McKinsey.
In the WealthiHer report from 2019, women have told us exactly what they value, and few businesses have yet to respond. More openness, more education, a personalized service, access to networks and more women in finance.
I was tired of feeling like an accessory in most conversations – men are often more valued as clients in a system built by men for men. It makes perfect sense that research from McKinsey shows that women make up only 12% of managing directors and 16% of principals and partners in investment roles at private equity firms. People who don't see themselves represented tend to feel like they don't belong.
Ana's top three reasons:
Spoiler alert: I want to make an impact people’s lives.
I want to make an impact, not just with my giving but also with my investing. And I'm not alone – According to a new wealth report by Altrata one stand-out difference between genders is the far greater importance of the non-profit and social organizations sector to women. Almost 20% of females spend the bulk of their time involved in this industry, compared with a 5% share of men.
A lack of confidence in understanding investing turned out to be less about me and more about how advisors failed to meet me where I was. In the same WealthiHer report, excessive jargon was also repeatedly cited as a barrier and cause of frustration. When I read this, something clicked. The questions I asked (and didn't ask) weren't dumb questions – the way the information was communicated to me was opaque, at best. Once I realized this, I began to ask people to speak differently.
I want my daughter to have a vastly different experience than I did. Unfortunately, family norms historically discouraged women from fully participating in their financial health. As a result, women are less comfortable making finance-related decisions independently and have less tolerance for investment risk.
Michelle's top three reasons: Spoiler Alert: Our members will come for the knowledge and stay for the community.
Like Ana, being a better steward of my wealth means I can be a more responsible contributor to society. Statistically, the more people can build their wealth, the more charitable they become. A 2021 Bank of America Study on Philanthropy shows that most affluent households give to charity. In 2020, 88.1 percent of affluent households gave to charity, compared with 48.8 percent of the general population.
I want to be part of a movement that brings financial literacy to women. While it's true that women with significant assets have considerably more tools at their disposal, the financial system is the same - it was built for men by men because they were the ones in paid work. But the world has changed, and I'd like to see a world where all women have the necessary tools and confidence. One organization I admire is Aflatoun International. You can learn about how they provide social and financial education for young people.
An unmatched community of like-minded women can be a powerful catalyst for personal and financial change. Studies at Harvard, the London School of Economics, and other research have consistently identified the root of happiness: having rich social bonds and meaningful relationships.
We’re curious to hear your thoughts. Share your top reason for improving women’s financial literacy or share what you feel is getting in your way.
I’m certain we can relate.
We’ll leave you with one insider tip from our Academic Director, Aunnie Patton Power:
“We all have the ability to invest to make the world a better place. Whether it is money, time, connections, or expertise - being purposeful about how we direct the resources that we control can have a huge impact. I love that in my work with The Beam Network, I'm able to help our members discover new ways to create positive impact.”