Financial Feminism in the 21st Century

Financial Feminism in the 21st Century

Can Financial Literacy be the catalyst for Gender Equity, and other Sustainable Development Goals?

By, Paolina Calabro CPA, CGA

In my work through FinanciElle, to create a community and conversation around money and financial literacy for Womxn founders, I’ve come across a lot of research and statistics on women and money – research outlining the Gender Pay, Gender Work Achievement, Gender Debt, Gender Investing, Gender Funding, Gender Pricing, and Unpaid Labour Gaps, research that shows 61% of women would rather talk about their own death than money, 45% of women say they don’t have a financial role model, 70% of women report the financial services industry has traditionally catered to men, 87% of women say basic financial management should be a standard part of the high school curriculum, research that shows 8 in 10 women confess they have refrained from discussing their finances with those they are close to, research that shows Women entrepreneurs in general are not satisfied with their experiences with financial institutions. Lack of access to capital prevented many women from growing their businesses or slowed the process of growth because they had to self-finance their growth, and on, and on.

As it currently stands, the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap reports that we will not see gender parity in our lifetime. At the rate we’re going in the U.S. it will take 208 years, and in Canada 164 years.

I’ve also been introduced to the concept of Financial Feminism, which Sallie Krawchek of Ellevest, says is about “women doing four very important things with money: earning it, making more of it, saving and investing more of it, and using it to make our world better” and which I’ve extended on my blog to also include Womxn founders doing four things: starting up, growing and scaling, investing profits back into their businesses and using their businesses and profits to make the world a better place – profit for a purpose.

The more I’ve thought about this though, the more I realize that while these are extremely important and necessary, the use of “Women doing”, might to a certain degree de-emphasize that the conditions that have led to these research results around gender equity, as well as the other Sustainable development issues we currently face, are systemic and require both a micro view on what individuals can do and a more macro view on how systems need to change.

In the 21st century, I think the definition of Financial Feminism should be extended even further, by applying what are traditionally thought of as Feminine values and principles to the structures, institutions, and systems that support all the parties within an embedded economy. It shouldn’t just be about women achieving the four very important things previously listed; but, about fundamentally changing how those four things are achieved by all.

“We’ll never solve the feminization of power until we solve the masculinity of wealth.” – Gloria Steinem

Financial literacy is “the possession of the set of skills and knowledge that allows an individual to make informed/effective decisions with all their financial resources”.

I recently read three books that have fundamentally shifted how I view financial literacy – Proposals for the Feminine Economy by Jennifer Armbrust, Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth, and The Art of Money by Bari Tessler. Two take a more Macro view and the other takes a holistic approach to the individual’s relationship with money.

In reading these three books, I noticed common themes and language and they all appeared to me to be – heart centered, people-centric, and purpose driven, all things traditionally thought of as Feminine and all things that I don’t think are necessarily thought of when you think finance and financial literacy.

In her book Proposals for the Feminine Economy, Armbrust states, “while women have traditionally been the carriers of the feminine, it doesn’t belong to them alone. In a healthy and balanced world, all humans would embody masculine and feminine qualities fluidly and in unique balance.”

What if? And Imagine? Two questions that everyone should ask often.

For most of history the world has been designed from the perspective of the Masculine – in her Essay, The Silent Rise of the Female Driven Economy, Danielle Kayembe writes “most of the structures, design, technology and products we interact with are designed with male as the default.” You can see this in everything from medical trials to heart disease, to everything from crash test dummies and office air conditioning, Urban planning, and the values that have historically driven the economy.

“We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.”  – Gloria Steinem

Reading these books got me thinking, what would happen if we took a more balanced view? What if not just humans would embody the Feminine but every entity and system that supports them?

Being a finance professional, I got curious about if/how financial literacy could be a catalyst for this. Could financial literacy be the catalyst for reaching Gender Equity, and other sustainable development goals?

In Doughnut Economics Kate Raworth asks, “How can we learn to talk again of values and goals, and put them at the heart of an economic mindset that is fit for the twenty-first century?”

From a financial perspective, it’s about obtaining and allocating financial resources based on Feminine principles and a Twenty-First Century Economic mindset.

So, to me, it stands to reason that if we want to embody Financial Feminism in the 21st century by applying Feminine values and principles to the structures, systems, and allocation of financial resources, and all resources, we need the knowledge, skills, and tools to do this.

What follows is a vision of what this could look like combining Jennifer Armbrust’s model for a Feminine Economy, Kate Raworth’s seven ways to think like a 21st Century Economist,  and Bari Tessler’s holistic approach to our relationship with money, looking at the relationship between financial literacy and Gender Equity in the 21st century.

One of the reasons I love finance and accounting is because it has allowed me to reconcile both the creative side and the logical side of my brain. At its core, it’s about storytelling – using the numbers (not just financial) of your business to create a narrative that reflects back to you what’s happened, what’s happening, and what you can do next. Brené Brown says it best, “Maybe stories are just data with a soul.”

When reading The Art of Money by Bari Tessler, I came upon a passage she quotes from Gloria Steinem’s Moving beyond words:

“What if one day, as I was crossing the street, I got hit by a Mack Truck? Temporarily stunned, I’d lie on the ground, and a crowd would gather to help. No one would know my name, what I did for a living, or what I believed in. But if one of them picked up my checkbook (thrown from my purse by the impact), what would she see? Would those check stubs reveal the kind of person I was? Would they know what mattered to me, based on where I spent my money?”

In The Art of Money, Bari Tessler describes something called values-based bookkeeping. She writes, “values-based bookkeeping is a practice where we pull down our visions and birth them into day-to-day reality. Tracking our spending, earning, saving, and investing becomes a way to gently track how aligned our intentions are with our daily life.”

More and more tools around sustainable finance and reporting have been created to allow for more values-based reporting. Tools like Integrated Reporting (IR), Accounting for Sustainability (A4S), Economy for the Common Good and its Common Good Balance Sheet, B Impact Assessment, the MultiCapital Score card , Sustainability Accounting Standards, and the like, are the ways of creating, presenting, and learning from the stories your numbers reflect back.

This got me to thinking of the network of financial reports and all the reports a business uses to tell its story, including those referenced above, as Accountability Statements. If the Doughnut, in Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics is the compass or GPS, then the Accountability Statements are the dashboard, gently tracking how aligned our intentions are with our daily life.

Because I believe language is important, I think to focus on Accountability Statements, we need to change the language around the financial statement piece:

The Balance Sheet, traditionally what you own vs. what you owe, instead becomes a statement of what you have available to you to use at any given point in time, acknowledging that everything available to you is coming from somewhere else.

The Income Statement, traditionally income compared to expenses resulting in profit, instead becomes a statement of how you are creating and using financial value. While other reports from the above tools become a statement of how you are creating and using other kinds of value.

The Cash Flow Statement, traditionally looking at cash inflows and outflows, instead becomes about how you are channeling your financial resources/energy.

Budgets (the word everybody loves to hate), instead become what Bari Tessler calls, money maps. In The Art of Money she writes, “Money mapping is far gentler, more sustainable, and meaningful than traditional budgeting. It’s about giving attention and loving intention to our finances so that we can harness the power of money to help us shape our lifestyle over time.”

Embracing this idea of values-based bookkeeping, using Accountability Statements, Let’s see how financial literacy could be a catalyst for reaching Gender Equity, and other Sustainable Development Goals using these various pieces:

The Values SystemThe Feminine Economy

The FrameworksDoughnut Economics 7 ways to think like a 21st century economist

The Tool-SetValues Based Bookkeeping through Accountability Statement

Figure 1

Value: Abundance Consciousness (Also known as Thriving or Enoughness)

Framework: Change the Goal

In Doughnut Economics, there’s a quote by Donella Meadows from her ‘Sustainable Systems’ Lecture, “Growth is one of the stupidest purposes ever invented by any culture, we’ve got to have an enough.” Kate writes, “In response to the constant call for more growth, Donella argued, we should always ask: ‘growth for what, and why, and for whom, and who pays the cost, and how long can it last, and what’s the cost to the planet, and how much is enough?’”

Figure 2

Using Accountability Statements, individuals, business – all the parties in the embedded economy, can get grounded in their financial space by knowing, managing, and planning. Using the Accountability Statements, you can ask yourself The Five Questions, a tool I learned about from Vicki Saunder’s book Think Like a SheEO:

  1. What do you want? (Mind Mapping)
  2. What do you have? (Balance Sheet)
  3. What do you need? (Mind Mapping)
  4. How are you going to get it? (Income Statement)
  5. What are you going to do with it once you get it? (Mind Mapping)

Your Accountability Statements can help facilitate world changing conversations around how your life/business can be mapped on to the doughnut. How does the way you create, spend, and invest help to bring humanity into the safe and just space?

Value: Resourcefulness (or Regeneration)

Framework: Create to Regenerate

Resourcefulness has to do with the ability to find ways to overcome difficulties. Using your Accountability Statements, you can see what you’re working with and how you can use what you have, creating to re-generate and experimenting with solutions.

Our greatest source of seeing what we have to work with is nature and the framework is the circular economy:

Figure 3

When it comes to economic value in a re-generative economy, Kate Raworth writes in Doughnut Economics, “Economic value lies not in the through flow of products and services but in the wealth that is their recurring source. That includes the wealth embodied in human-made assets but also the wealth embodied in people, in a thriving biosphere, and in knowledge.” using the network of Accountability Statements can help you to ask regenerative questions vs. degenerative questions. Janine Benyus, States “Don’t ask: what’s my fair share to take? Ask: what other benefits can we layer into this so we can give more away?”

Value: Mindfulness

Being grounded in your financial space by building, updating, and reviewing your Accountability Statements allows you to be conscious and aware of how you and your business are using what’s available to you at any point in time to create value.

Value: Gratitude

I wrote about acknowledging that everything available to you to use at a point in time is coming from somewhere else (the earth, other people). Gratitude is about being thankful for the benefits of the exchange. You generate value for others through your business and they make the resource of money available for you to use, to keep doing that. You use that resource to create spaces for people to make an impact (rent), to invest in people to contribute their talents (payroll)…words carry weight, and the words you use can change I have to pay for, to I get to invest in – people, community (taxes and donations)…

Value: Integrity

Integrity is about the state of being whole and undivided, it’s when words and actions match and they are in alignment with your values.

Is your business channeling resources in alignment with your values? Are you generating and using value the way you intended?

Your Accountability Statements help you answer these questions and point to where you can get re-aligned. If you say Gender Parity is important to you – what percentages of the materials you spend money on come from Womxn founded suppliers, what % of your employees are women at every level…?

Value: Honesty

With integrity comes honesty 2 + 2 = 4, your Accountability Statements will tell you if what you say is important to you, is actually where you’re channelling your resources of money, time, effort…

Value: Connecting with Nature

Framework: Get Savvy with Systems

In Doughnut Economics Kate Raworth talks about something that Eric Lui and Nick Hanauer write about in their book The Gardens of Democracy about moving from what they call ‘machinebrain’ to ‘gardenbrain’ and realising that things need stewarding “To be a gardener is not to let nature take its course; it’s to tend. Gardeners don’t make plants grow but they do create conditions where plants can thrive and they do make judgments about what should and shouldn’t be in the garden.”

Another passage from Doughnut Economics, about stewarding a constantly evolving economy, talks about being humble and getting an understanding of the complex system, “watch and understand how it currently works and learn its history. It’s obvious to ask what’s wrong, so also ask: how did we get here? Where are we headed? And what is still working well.”

There’s a quote from Donella Meadows from her book Thinking in Systems, “The future can’t be predicted, but it can be envisioned and brought lovingly into being. Systems can’t be controlled, but they can be designed and re-designed…We can listen to what the system tells us, and discover how its properties and our values can work together to bring forth something much better than can ever be produced by our will alone.” In thinking of your business as a system, this sounds a lot like the money mapping that Bari Tessler talks about in The Art of Money.

In a podcast, Secrets of Wealthy Women by the Wall street Journal, I heard this quote from Rabbi Angela Buchdal,

“I think money is a form of spiritual energy and money can create in the world and save lives, it can feed people, it can be an expression of our values. It’s how we use the money, and the whole point of energy is that we need to put it back into the universe in the way we want. Energy is not to be hoarded, that would short circuit us. Instead, we should think about how we use that money to exemplify and further amplify the values we want to see in the world.”

As with all things in nature, we are merely stewards taking care of the resources that flow into and out of our lives, as individuals, businesses and other parties in the embedded economy.

Your Accountability Statements help you to see if you are being a good steward, they can answer – How did we get here, where are we headed? And what is still working? Your business can be designed and re-designed based on the narrative reflected back.

Value: Empathy

It’s not personal, its business, to me, has to be one of the dumbest sentiments. In the Capital Institute’s Report Regenerative Capitalism , authored by John Fullerton, Fullerton writes,

“Actors in a Regenerative Economy understand that the long-term economic vitality depends on creating conditions that will unlock the vast potential for true wealth creation that lies dormant in every individual, community, business network, and bioregion. Consequently, instead of viewing moral issues as irrelevant to “rational” economic decision-making, in Regenerative Capitalism, human and moral concerns become central to decision-making and policymakers view those concerns as critical to the maintenance of a healthy whole.”

when looking at your Accountability Statements or making choices about how to use what’s available to you to create value and design solutions– pay attention – is the solution you are designing to solve an internal business problem or serve a customer designed with empathy? Tim Brown from the IDEO says “empathy is at the heart of design. Without the understanding of what others see, feel, and experience, design is a pointless task.”

Value: Care

Framework: Nurture Human Nature

Care is about the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance and protection of someone or something. It’s about feeling concern or interest and attaching importance to something.

In the case we’re looking at here, the something is your business and the ecosystem in which it is embedded.

Figure 4

In Doughnut Economics, Kate Raworth writes, “Rather than presiding at the pinnacle of nature’s pyramid, however, humanity is woven deep into nature’s web. We are embedded in the living world, not separate from or above it.” She references the thinker Otto Scharmer and his article on Ego-System to Eco-System Economies, where he says, “What’s really needed is a deeper shift in consciousness so that we begin to care and act, not just for ourselves and other stakeholders but in the interests of the entire ecosystem in which economic activities take place.” Kate writes that “Changing our sense of how we belong in the world also depends upon finding better words to describe it.”…”Simply thinking like consumers, it seems triggers self-regarding behaviour and divides rather than unites groups who are facing a common scarcity.”… “Suddenly the words ‘neighbours’, ‘community members’, ‘community of nations’ and ‘global citizens’ seem incredibly precious for securing a safe and just economic future.”

If you use your Accountability Statements as a way of looking at how your business relates to and cares for the ecosystem it interacts with, sitting down with them and ensuring they reflect a healthy picture is part of your business’ money practice and – if your business isn’t healthy it can’t care for the ecosystem in which it’s embedded.

In The Art of Money, Bari Tessler writes about money as a self-care practice,

“Money Practice, n.

Old definition: A terrifically tedious, stressful, and painful monstrosity that I should do, even though I hate it.

New definition: Everything I do, on an ongoing basis, to help bring more clarity, peace of mind, and success to my money relationship. Something that helps me maintain my money relationship as a steadfast and supportive part of my life. Something that is constantly evolving, uniquely mine, and deeply nourishing. Something that gives me continual feedback about how aligned I am with my values and intentions, and continues to refine my self-awareness, enhancing every moment and aspect of my life. I get the very best support for my money practice that I can, and in turn, it supports me and every area of my life.”

I think this new definition can be equally applied not just to individuals but businesses and other parties in the embedded economy.

Value: Asking Questions

Asking questions is about curiosity, experimentation, and learning. You can use your Accountability Statements as the basis for asking questions, exploring options, and iterating. Throughout this essay, different questions have been posed that Accountability Statements could help to answer.

Value: Sustainability

Framework: Create to Regenerate

 Sustainability is about being able to continue over a period of time. Your business and the ecosystem in which it operates can only be sustained if it’s healthy (financially and otherwise) and responsibility is applied. Your Accountability Statements and the story they tell are your touch points and guide posts in sustainability.

In Doughnut Economics, Kate Raworth writes about how creating businesses, organizations, and institutions with what Marjorie Kelly calls a company’s ‘living purpose’, rooted in regenerative and distributive design requires a source of finance that is aligned with its values to survive and thrive. She writes, “Whether or not a regenerative enterprise can deliver on its living purpose depends in good part on how it is financed.”

In reading Doughnut Economics, I learned about John Fullerton, a former managing director at JP Morgan, who walked away from Wall Street in 2001 based on an instinct that something was profoundly wrong with the way it worked (I would say those instincts were pretty good).

In Doughnut Economics, Raworth paraphrases, a quote from Fullerton’s Speech launching the Regenerative Capitalism report, where he says, “I came to the understanding that the economic system is actually the root cause of the ecological crisis, and that finance is what drives the economic system. So as twenty-year finance veteran hotshot, I had some re-thinking to do.”

Out of this thinking came – Regenerative Capitalism: How Universal Principles and Patterns Will Shape Our New Economy, and subsequently, Finance for a Regenerative World (in four acts).

If finance, the management of amounts of money, drives the economic system, which is the root cause of the ecological crisis, and likely all the other sustainable development issues we are currently facing, then changing how we (all the players in the embedded economy) manage money, could change the economic system and our achievement of the sustainable development goals.

You can evaluate your Accountability Statements using the characteristics and principles mentioned in the reports to determine the sustainability of your business and the ecosystem in which it operates. Your Accountability Statements can help you to identify how you are currently managing your money, and how you can change how you manage your money to be aligned with your values and build a sustainable business and surrounding ecosystem.

Value: Intimacy

Framework: Nurture Human Nature

 Intimacy is about having a close familiarity or friendship. Below, when I talk about embodiment, I talk about how your Accountability Statements are a physical representation of every business relationship, in reading Doughnut Economics, I came across an excerpt of Chief Oren Lyons of the Iroquois Onondaga Nation’s address to the students at the University of Berkley’s College of Natural Resources, where he stated,

“Now that we know about DNA, you understand that we are only just a few genes apart from the flower. You know that. The DNA of grass and the trees are almost the same as humans. Well we knew that! We knew that long ago. That’s why we said they are our relations, all our relations. What you call resources, we call our relatives. If you can think in terms of relationships, your relatives, you are going to treat them better, aren’t you? So you have got to get back to the relationship because that is your foundation for survival.”

How do you and your business belong in the world? We often read/hear about resources – financial resources, human resources, and natural resource, what if instead we focus on the relationship?

You can use your Accountability Statements to evaluate the health of these relationships.

Value: Embodiment

Embodiment is a tangible or visible form of an idea, quality, or feeling; it’s a representation or expression of something in a tangible or visible form.

The numbers in your Accountability Statements are the result of every idea put into practice, every business decision made, and every business relationship undertaken. Everything intangible creates a result making your Accountability Statements a physical representation of the energy flowing through your business.

Value: Generosity

Framework: Create to Regenerate

Framework: Design to Distribute

Framework: Nurture Human Nature

Generosity is the quality of being kind and giving of time, energy, and money.

In Doughnut Economics, Raworth talks about if business can be done in the Doughnut, she writes about how companies responses can be summed up with what she calls the ‘Corporate To Do List’, which encompasses five responses – the first, do nothing; the second, do what pays; the third do our fair share; the fourth, do no harm, the fifth, be generous.

She writes that, “instead of aiming merely to do less bad, industrial design can aim to do more good by continually replenishing, rather than slowly depleting, the living world. Why simply take nothing when you could also give something?”…”that’s the essence of the fifth response, by creating an enterprise that is regenerative by design, giving back to the living systems of which we are a part.”

She writes how, Today’s most innovative enterprises are inspired by the same idea: that the business of business is to contribute to a thriving world. And the growing family of enterprise structures that are intentionally distributive by design – including cooperatives, not-for-profits, community interest companies, and benefit corporations – can be regenerative by design too.”

Use your Accountability Statements as a check in tool to see how you are being generous. How is your business contributing to a thriving world?

In Doughnut Economics, Kate Raworth talks about The Era of Living Metrics, “The shift to regenerative economic design can be monitored only if it is backed up by metrics that reflect its mission. “

Early on, I talked about the Accountability Statements being made up of not just the financial piece but all those other non-financial reporting tools, all together these Accountability Statements push business, and other parties in the embedded economy, in the right direction; but, there’s still more to be done towards measuring generous design through living metrics, like what the City of Oberlin is doing with its Environmental Dashboard, to educate, motivate, and empower the community.

Imagine what could happen if there were Dashboards like this monitoring the progress towards all sustainable development goals that monitored financial and non-financial metrics?

In Doughnut Economics, Raworth talks about designing to distribute

Figure 5

She writes,

“Don’t wait for economic growth to reduce inequality – because it won’t. Instead, create an economy that is distributive by design.”…”Such an economy must help to bring everyone above the Doughnut’s social foundation. To do so, however, it must alter the distribution not only of income but also of wealth, time, and power.”…”The question then is how to design economic networks so that they distribute value – from materials and energy to knowledge and income – in a far more equitable way.”

As a party in the embedded economy you can use your Accountability Statements to see how you are distributing what’s available to you.

Value: Ease

Framework: Design to Distribute

Framework: Change the Goal

Framework: Be Agnostic about Growth

Ease is about creating the conditions to be free from pain and discomfort. No pain, no gain – yet another premise that no longer holds value.

There may be more, but I can see two main things that make dealing with money within any context difficult:

  1. Lack of clarity – not having any idea about the money or other resources are flowing into and out of your business/life or how/where it’s flowing to, or what your goal(s) for it are.

Hopefully, by this point you’ve been able to see how your Accountability Statements can help with this piece. All parties in an embedded economy can use these to get clarity.

  1. Trying to fit into another’s definition of success – Trying to do it the way ‘They’ do, whoever they are is exhausting, draining, and hard. The emphasis on building unicorns, accessing venture capital funding, exponential growth, or whatever other idea of success is out there does not define true success, you define what success looks like for yourself, your business, your community….

Ask yourself what does successful look like to me? What does true wealth and prosperity look like? If it’s about building a billion dollar company, selling it or doing an IPO (initial public offering) that’s great; If it’s about building a sustainable company that you can pass down to your child or future generations, that’s great too; if it’s about paying yourself a living wage and being able to have a more integrated life, great, if it’s about supporting people in your community with living wages, solving a UN Sustainability goal, or making some extra money on the side to support whatever goals or dreams you have, it’s all great; because, it’s what you want.

You get to pick what success looks like to you, and guess what, you get to change what that definition of success looks like to you whenever you want.  You can start small and stay small, or gradually grow over time, or shoot for the moon.

Use your Accountability Statements to make sure you are aligned with what success looks like to you.

In Doughnut Economics, Raworth writes this about creating thriving economies, “What design principles can nature’s thriving networks teach us for creating thriving economies? In two words: diversity and distribution. If large-scale actors dominate an economic network by squeezing out the number and diversity of small and medium players, the result will be a highly unequal and brittle economy.”

In order to create a thriving economy, all parties in the embedded economy need to re-frame what constitutes success and how the world is designed to make sure all parties thrive.

Accountability Statements can be used to measure and reflect back how each party uses what’s available to them at any point in time to create a thriving environment.

Values: Collaboration and Interdependence (I cannot separate these two as I feel they are inextricably linked)

Framework: Tell a New Story

Framework: Get Savvy with Systems

Figure 6

I’ve referenced the embedded economy throughout this essay so, now that the stage is set, it’s time to introduce all the parties as described by Raworth in Doughnut Economics,

Earth, which is life giving – so respect its boundaries

Society, which is foundational – so nurture its connections

The Economy, which is diverse – so support all of its systems

The Household, which is core – so value its contribution

The Market, which is powerful – so embed it wisely

The Commons, which are creative – so unleash their potential

The State, which is essential – so make it accountable

Finance, which is in service – so make it serve society

Business, which is innovative – so give it purpose

Trade, which is double-edged – so make it fair

Power, which is pervasive – so check its abuse

It’s important to describe all these parties when talking about collaboration and interdependence. Here’s why:

Collaboration is the action of working with someone to produce or create something.

In In the Capital Institute’s Report Regenerative Capitalism , authored by John Fullerton, Fullerton writes, “Biologist and biomimicry expert Janine Benyus further emphasizes that “life is a team sport!” As she says it is “collaboration rather than competition that is the survival mechanism in natural systems.”

Interdependence is the dependence of two or more people or things on each other.

In In the Capital Institute’s Report Regenerative Capitalism , authored by John Fullerton, Fullerton writes,

“People who see economies as separate from other parts of society and the biosphere often ignore (or address separately) the harm done to other parts of society and the biosphere. Most leading business schools, for example, still teach the mechanistic idea that optimizing near-term “shareholder value” should be a firm’s primary goal. This idea poses a clear and present danger to the health of human communities and all life on Earth because it assumes the firm is separate from the greater whole of society, as well as from the biosphere upon whose life-supporting functions the firm, its employees, and its customers depend. No amount of precision in reductionist thought can ever remedy the harm done by ignoring such critical relationships. Instead, a first crucial step must be to shed light on the problem by putting honest prices (to the extent possible) on wastes that harm other parts of the system, as well as the inputs and services they provide.”

In the report, there’s a quote from John Muir, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”

All the parties need to work together in reaching sustainable development goals, like Gender Equity, to deal with one party while disregarding how all the system(s) work together will not work.

Accountability Statements provide a tool for collaboration in that they are a way to create a common language and to create accountability among each party.

If your goal is Gender Equity, how do your Accountability Statements measure what and how you are doing against that goal, within the context of the value system and frameworks? How do the Accountability Statements of those you collaborate with look? What do they tell you? Are you aligned with who you collaborate with along the supply chain? If not, what actions can you take?

As I mentioned when talking about embodiment, the numbers in your Accountability Statements are the result of ever choice you make and every relationship you are in – so your Accountability Statements are dependent on what you do.

The embedded economy is dependent on the Accountability Statements of every person, business, organization, government… and how they interact with each other.

Whenever you are making business/financial choices go to your big picture self-vs. You’re right now-self. What does compromising now, or making certain choices now do to you later?

Value: Cyclical Growth

Framework: Change the Goal

Framework: Be Agnostic about Growth

Cyclical growth is about growth occurring in cycles, recurrences, ups and downs. Resources flow into and out of a business in varying degrees over its life, which, if you’ve created and maintained a healthy one will be a long one.

In Doughnut Economics, Raworth states,

“The twentieth century bequeathed to us economies that need to grow, whether or not they make us thrive, and we are now living through the social and ecological fallout of that inheritance. Twenty-first-century economists, especially those in today’s high-income countries, now face a challenge that their predecessors did not have to contemplate: to create economies that make us thrive, whether or not they grow.”

This goes back to re-defining what success looks like and creating measures/metrics that help us measure what a thriving economy vs. a growing economy looks like, what a thriving business vs. a growing business looks like, what a thriving individual existence looks like…

Accountability Statements can be used to establish the new definition(s) of success and the numbers that they report back can be guide posts allowing us to measure our progress.

What follows is an example of how Accountability Statements could be used to Support Reaching the goal of Gender Equity.


Financial Measures:

  • Dollars budgeted for Gender Equity Initiatives
  • Dollars used for Gender Equity Initiatives
  • Dollar impact of Initiatives on – Economy, users of the initiatives
  • Dollars spent on Womxn founded/majority owned suppliers for government operations
  • Dollars paid to Womxn at every level of government compared to male counterparts

Non-Financial Measures:

  • Participation in Gender Equity Initiatives
  • Survey results on experience of participants in Government Gender Equity Initiatives
  • Number of pieces of legislation passed to support Gender Equity
  • Number of Womxn employed at each level of government
  • Survey results on a Gender Equity Survey that goes out to all businesses similar to other surveys that businesses get

Financial Institutions:

Financial Measures:

  • Dollars lent out to Womxn founded/Majority owned businesses
  • Dollars spent on internal and external Gender Equity Initiatives
  • Dollar impact of Initiatives on bank
  • Dollars invested in Gender Lens investments and performance on Gender Lens Investments
  • Dollars paid to Womxn at every level within the institution compared to male counterparts

Non-Financial Measures:

  • Number of Gender Lens Investment products created
  • Participation in Gender Equity Initiatives
  • Number of Womxn employed at each level within financial institution
  • Survey results on experience of Womxn dealing with the bank and interacting with internal, external initiatives


Financial Measures:

  • Dollars invested in R&D to create products/services that meet Womxn’s needs/wants
  • Dollars spent on Womxn founded/majority owned suppliers for business operations
  • Dollars paid to Womxn at every level within the organization compared to male counterparts
  • Dollar impact of Initiatives on business
  • Dollars earned from customers that support Gender Equity initiatives
  • Dollars spent with suppliers that support Gender Equity Initiatives
  • Dollars held in Financial Institutions that support Gender Equity Initiatives
  • Percentage of profits re-invested into community based Gender Equity Initiatives

Non-Financial Measures:

  • Number of Womxn employed at each level of business and each type of team
  • Participation of Womxn employees in Gender Equity initiatives
  • Survey results on experience of Womxn employees, suppliers, customers, engaging with the business


Financial Measures:

  • Dollars spent with Womxn founded/majority owned business
  • Dollars invested in Gender Lens Investments
  • Dollars invested with Institutions/Companies who support Gender Equity
  • Dollars earned from working at companies that support Gender Equity
  • Dollars or percentage spent on community based initiatives that support Gender Equity


This is by no means an exhaustive list of what can be done to create and track measures related to this particular goal.

What I’ve gone through is a vision of how Values-Based Bookkeeping, through the use of Accountability Statements, can be a practical tool that allows every party of the embedded economy to align to the Feminine values and seven ways of thinking like a 21st Century Economist that could allow us to achieve Gender Equity and the other Sustainable Development Goals.

I invite you to consider how you can use Accountability Statements within your life and business to align to the values that are important to you.


Armbrust, Jennifer. Proposals for the Feminine Economy. The Fourth Wave, 2018

Fullerton, John. Regenerative Capitalism How Universal Principles and Patterns Will Shape Our New Economy. Capital Institute, 2015

Raworth, Kate. Doughnut Economics 7 Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist. Chelsea Green Publishing, 2017.

Tessler, Bari. The Art of Money A Life-Changing Guide to Financial Happiness. Parallax Press, 2016


One thought on “Financial Feminism in the 21st Century

  1. Giovanna says:

    Hi Financielle,

    I thought the 5 accountability statements and the idea of integrating empathy into finance were very interesting!

    Thanks for the great read!

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