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How to Make the Most of Women's Equality Day: Directing our Dollars Toward an Inclusive Economy

Saturday, August 26th is the day set aside to celebrate women's equality and the hard-won right to vote after three-fourths of the states ratified the 19th amendment in 1920. I personally am grateful to Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and all of the suffragettes for their strategy and perseverance in persuading Washington political leaders that women, like men, deserved all of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

While women have now had the right, and responsibility, to vote for almost 100 years (black women did not fully receive this essential right for another 45 years), we as a society still have a long way to go in achieving equality. Women have largely been left out of many sectors of our economy, and that needs to change. From high-paying executive level jobs, to boardroom seats, to capital to start businesses, women have not nearly achieved parity. Fortunately, there is a lot we can do to affect the change that will benefit us all.

As I wrote in January after the women’s march, "it is time for each of us to continue to vote with both our actions and our dollars for the world that we want to see." While we are not going to shop our way out of inequality, we can certainly be more conscious about where we direct our dollars. We live in a society that has allowed us to remain distanced from and unaware of the effects and consequences of our consumer and investment dollars. To the extent we can become more conscious and invest “on purpose,” there is a lot of parity we can achieve. While it seems obvious, it is vital to support, frequent and invest in women -owned businesses. Women founders and managers are much more likely to hire female employees than executive teams without women. And research studies continue to find that companies with women in leadership outperform all male teams; all to say that betting on women will move our economy in a productive, equitable direction, and can be a smart investment.

A few key moves we can make in aligning our assets with our equal rights values:

  1. Take stock of where you bank. Local banks are generally the safest institutions and invest in our local communities, keeping money lowing in our local economies in businesses often run by women. Find out more about your local bank here.

  2. When investing, make sure you are investing in companies that embrace women in leadership.

  3. When seeking a financial advisor, look for a women-led team.

  4. When shopping, you have a choice from whom you purchase. See below for our local women-owned favorites.

I encourage us all to take stock, to flex our collective purchasing muscles and use our buying power to help create a world that is a better place for all. It is time for each one of us to align our actions with our assets and with our values. Time to make sure the banks we choose are using our deposits to make loans to the businesses and projects that we care about and that move us forward. It is time to look at where all of our assets are invested and make sure that we are invested in the companies that care for people and planet, particularly those that espouse diverse and innovative leadership.

At Nia, we are a small women-owned and -operated impact investing firm working to change the face of finance. Our mission includes leveraging finance as a tool to achieve social justice and environmental sustainability. We see it as our job to challenge the status quo and provide alternatives that will move us out of the incumbent economy and toward an inclusive, just and sustainable economy. We promote diversity because we know that an economy that works for all will require the engagement of a diverse perspective and skillset. We want to see women in leadership at every level of local government as well as in business.

We have doubled down on our commitment to women and underserved communities. We are proud of our shopping local practices, as we know that is one important way to keep money flowing in our local communities. Not only do we encourage each of you to move your money to your local bank or credit union, to seek women in leadership in every company in which you invest, we also invite you to explore the small, local, women-led businesses in your area.

We admire the talented women entrepreneurs in our community. Many of these women are creating strong, community-focused businesses offering alternatives to some of the conventional brands. Here are just a few of our Bay Area picks: We love our local independent bookstores. LOAKL allows us to shop locally by helping us find and purchase books across Bay Area bookstores. And if we don’t have time to stop by ourselves for in-store pick-up, LOAKL delivers right to our door.

Impact Hub Oakland:This is Oakland’s go-to place for co-working, for event space, and for meaningful events. I am incredibly proud to be a part of this women-led team bringing a social justice focus to business.

H2OContentStrategy: For copywriting, and all things content-related, Hannah Onstad is a writer and visual thinker. Working at the intersection of content, design, and development, she makes the mundane become magical.

Uptima Business Bootcamp When figuring out how to start your own business, there is no one better than Rani Croager for entrepreneurship training. Her Uptima Bootcamp classes are unparalleled in her teachings, business insights, and in her cohort learning approach.

Sara Dimauro Painting: When it comes to painting, detail and color are both essential. For office or home, Sara and her team are wonderful to work with and deliver incredible results each and every time.

Blaisdell’s Business Products: They are the largest women-owned independent paper supplier in the Bay Area and they make our lives so easy. They carry office products, janitorial and break room supplies, office furniture, ergonomic and printing supplies, rubber stamps and much more. We order 100% recycled paper at reasonable and competitive prices. They deliver it to our door right away, accompanied by local chocolate with each order. Yum!

In Her Image Photography: From professional headshots to pre-baby photo shoots, Heidi and Tara are the best. They are incredibly talented in bringing out your very best, and making the entire process fun!

Miss Ollie’s: If you love Caribbean food, look no further than Miss Ollie’s for delicious, mouth-watering dishes that will become instant classics you will love.

Orlando Mitts Moore & Company: When it comes to tax advice and accounting, we are thrilled to work with Laurie, Cassie, and their women-led team. Detail oriented and strategic, keeping us organized and on our toes, answering each and every question we might have, and getting us ready for each approaching deadline.

Piikup: A 2017 Oakland Indie Award winner in the Social Changemaker category, Piikup is a woman-owned local delivery service for businesses that aims to recruit and employ underserved populations.

Ruby Envy Beauty: Kenya Aissa is the owner and lead artist of Ruby Envy Beauty, a lifestyle brand that focuses on self-care for women, holistic nutrition, and beauty from the inside out. Kenya is an award-winning makeup artist, writer, and yoga teacher, and we at Nia love all that she does!

Uptown Body: An autobody shop, and so much more. Uptown Body was recognized by the Oakland Chamber of Commerce and awarded the Oakland Indie: Neighborhood Dynamo award for “the way owners Giovanna Tanzillo and Lisandro Allende have made their business an integral part of their surrounding community by providing local organizations the free use of their facility for fundraising events and art exhibitions.” Uptown Body rocks!

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