In June of 2016, the night before the White House hosted its inaugural State of Women conference, I hosted a dinner. Around the table were 18 extraordinary advocates for women’s equality. It was the first time I’d shared the vision for The Helm publicly, and when one of our friends, now investors, Ruth Ann Harnisch stood up and spoke to why she believed the world needed us, she said it was because finance is the final frontier of feminism. She was right.
A year and a half later, we are excited to usher The Helm into the world. Through our membership community, fund, and content, we will connect you directly to the women and non-binary femme entrepreneurs whose companies, products, and innovations are shaping both our culture and our future.
For our inaugural issue — Women, Money, & Power — we are thrilled to have collaborated with powerhouse women at the helm of financial services, FinTech, and cryptocurrency. Women like the inimitable Sallie Krawcheck, whose refreshing and unforeseen candor about her history in banking and the future of financial feminism is deeply illuminating. She didn’t shy away from the personal, either. From panic attacks to prenups to navigating the role of being the breadwinner, it’s easy to see why her unabashed approach to work, life, and love lends itself to her overwhelming success.
Among the most thought-provoking pieces was Alyse Killeen’s examination of the ways in which cryptocurrency “favors the understanding and contribution of women.” Her take on collaboration as a hallmark of crypto also drew my attention to the symbiotic nature of this new currency and the resistance. It doesn’t feel accidental that the intersectional, decentralized, and democratic approach of bitcoin mirrors the movement. If anything, it made me appreciate its possibilities even more.
The Helm Managing Partner, Erin Shipley, took a deep dive into the new technologies, trends, and companies that are shaping our financial future with her column, Tech of the Town. Writer Ashley Ford, historian Alexis Coe, and illustrator Alessandra Genualdo lent a cultural perspective to the theme: Ashley through a touching money story, which ponders how the effects of how her family’s complicated relationship with money shaped her own; and Alexis and Alessandra via a historical timeline that spotlights the oft-overlooked heroines who furthered economic equality — and shows us just how much further we have to go.
To that end, the timeliness of this issue and The Helm at large cannot be underestimated. Money is power. And in order for women to accelerate progress across all areas of our lives, we must be willing to examine our own discomfort with both. I am, for example, particularly aware of the gendered nature of altruism. Why are we so eager to give but reticent to invest? Financial feminism, for us, isn’t just about purchasing power, or financial literacy, or pay equity — though each of these things is critical; it’s about architecting the future we want by investing in the companies that are going to get us there.
Just over 2% of all venture capital goes to female-founded companies. This means that, across industries, 98% of innovation is being driven by men. But what would happen if women decided they were going to take the 14 trillion in assets or the 85% of consumer spending they control domestically and invest even a fraction of that into women-led companies? We believe it would lead to the biggest political, cultural, and social shifts we’ve ever seen.
The time is now to change the way we invest in equality. We need to honor the women who have the courage to lead. We need to invest in them, make them visible, and provide them with the support they require to accomplish their goals.
That’s what we are doing at The Helm. And we invite you to join us.
Lindsey Taylor Wood