Needless to say, the world has changed. While it is too early to assess the overall impact of the coronavirus pandemic, we see it revealing systemic inequities in all corners of society: health, education, housing, food security, employment, transportation, safety, and others; and we see the disproportionate impact it has had on women, people of color, and New Americans. We are face to face with the deep interconnectedness of our global community and the responsibility that all of us have for each other across states, continents, and sectors. And we are committed to ensuring that we do not go back to “business as usual” in the recovery phase of the pandemic, but instead use the hard lessons learned to help build a more inclusive, just, and resilient society. All of us can contribute to that vision, as donors, voters, consumers, and investors.
What does this mean for us at Invest for Better?
Our conviction in the importance of impact investing is stronger than ever. As Invest for Better Steering Committee member Suzanne Biegel noted in her recent Impact Alpha article: “That COVID-19 will reshape (and is reshaping) the global economy is inevitable. The question for all of us is what kind of economy do we want to create as we rebuild and reshape?”
Women need to play an important role in shaping the “after”, not only because women are so deeply affected by the failures of yesterday, but also because we weren’t at the table when the old economic rules were made. We know that women (and many, many men, too) value principles of investing that go beyond short-term profit maximization. They care about the purpose of money and its value to the community, but too many have stayed on the sidelines. Now is the time to step up. As one of our Invest for Better Circle leaders asked, “How do we galvanize more women of conscience to come together, use the power of their investment assets, and have their voices heard?”
Invest for Better is adapting to the new conditions in exciting ways.
- Invest for Better Circles are going virtual. We have just published an Invest for Better Circle Toolkit Supplement about how to hold virtual meetings and run virtual Circles. We are hearing positive reports from leaders of existing Circles who have migrated to online platforms for their meetings, and leaders of new Circles that are launching in virtual mode are pleasantly surprised by the success of the experience. The Supplement provides advice to Circle leaders on building community, intimacy, and trust, along with practical tips on how to modify agendas and activities. We imagine Circles of the future will be a mix of virtual, in-person, and blended.
- Among the advantages of virtual Circles and meetings is the ability to bring in expert speakers from anywhere in the world. Invest for Better has developed a Speakers Bureau, composed of individuals with expertise across asset classes and other impact investing specialties (e.g., Sustainable Development Goals, metrics, money values). We are thrilled to welcome these generous professionals into our community and be able to offer their expertise to Circles at no cost.
- We recently conducted a survey of nearly 50 current and aspiring Circle leaders to find out how we could better support the launch or ongoing work of Invest for Better Circles. In addition to asking for guidance on running virtual Circles, respondents indicated a desire to build community among Circle leaders, namely through three strategies: Calls or video-chats to talk with other Circle leaders, an online community to share resources, and a “cohort” of Circle leaders who are on similar schedules. We are working on building out these services.
- Finally, we are exploring how to respond to the call from Circle leaders and participants, as well as partner organizations, to bring together our voices and actions for change. In the Boston area, we are convening interested women to share learning and ideas for addressing – through investing and philanthropy – structural racial inequities revealed by the pandemic crisis. Nationally, we were part of a conversation with Mayshad CHOICE’s Women and Money series on the role of women and impact investing in today’s crisis. We are in conversation with partners about creating a series of webinars to help individual investors and advisors explore what you can do now while we’re in the midst of chaos, what you can do later when the path to recovery begins, and how you can contribute to the reform we need in the long term.
Let us know what you need and how Invest for Better can support the conversations you are having about ensuring a focus on sustainability, equity, and resilience in our capital markets. Let’s bring more women to the table. If not us, then who?