Women United Should Not be Divided
When Oxygen Media launched in 1998, I was not a fan. I didn’t embrace the concept that women should have a channel geared towards them. It just didn’t make sense to me. If women were going to be united around anything from ruling the world to running publically traded companies to starting companies to powerful positions then we should not be divided. I worried that separating ourselves with our own channel was not the way to be equal at every level with our male counterparts.
Fast forward, I went on to co-found the Women’s Entrepreneur Festival, that was an event for women. It wasn’t that we did not accept men but when you name something with women as the first word, men actually do not apply to come. What made the festival so unique (and there are many things that made that festival incredible) is that the conversations that took place would not have taken place if the room was filled with men listening to women on the stage talking about their businesses. The most interesting conversations were women talking to each other about their personal struggles that are different from men because at the end of the day, only women can bear children and that is a significant difference.
There is a rise of women-only businesses from the Wing to credit cards to more events. There is also the organization All Raise that was started by female investors who want to even the playing field. I applaud their desire to give women more opportunities to get in front of institutional investors including the push for diversity in all companies. I participated in one of the female founders hours. All of these investors operate in the future but the lack of diversity is inked in data and they want to change that.
I started investing in women over a decade ago. I made it part of my thesis because it was something I cared about which is seeing more women succeed at the same level men have for years, to even the playing field. It was my own personal crusade. I think about diversity daily pushing companies to have a diverse workforce from day one. Women come with a different view of the world then men do and it is insanely important to have both of those brains at the table. It creates a better culture, and if you read the data, a better chance of success. That means all female companies are just as bad as all-male companies.
I applaud everyone’s work around this now hot topic but just like Oxygen Media, I am not convinced that getting behind these all-female organizations is how we create change. Change has to come from each of us individually. We have to embrace everyone who wants change and that means women and men. Just like start-ups are changing industries, we have to change the future by committing to invest in women founders and that might mean institutional investors (and angels) need to seek them out. Having a separate fund just for women divides us as there isn’t a separate fund for men. We should not put money back into companies that have not created a diverse workforce. We have to not own stocks of companies that have all-male boards, we have to not buy products that don’t align with these values, etc.
We all have to make a conscious choice because change comes from all of as individuals, together, not by dividing us. Together we can get where we all need to go which is a society that is balanced not separate and I stress the word together and united in order to do this. Division just creates more division.