I'd like to give you some sound business advice that will make you a ton of money: Use your hands to write checks, your mouths to mentor, and your hearts to inspire when working with women. (And use them for nothing else.)
I'm a social entrepreneur turned full-blown capitalist. Ten years working with the United Nations showed me the enormous economic and social value of ensuring girls and women are an equal part of society. Now, as an investor and chairwoman of HelloAlice.com, I see women every single day succeeding as business owners.
When given the same amount of capital as their male counterparts, they tend to outperform the dudes. Recent research shows they're usually not getting that access to capital and networks.
But I think there's a bigger problem at hand: the ugly behavior of the men surrounding them. The word "ugly" is the only non-curse word that comes to mind. My grandma used to use that term when my siblings and I were behaving badly as kids, so it seems fitting.
In 2016, I wrote a love letter to female entrepreneurs, saying to not be intimidated by the unicorn boys club. When researching for the piece, a man told me to just call women "vagina-corns."
Things haven't gotten better since then. In terms of access to capital and networks, it feels like things have actually gotten worse. As a capitalist, this doesn't make sense to me--data shows that women entrepreneurs consistently outperform in business.
In honor of Women's Entrepreneurship Day (November 19), I feel compelled to give you four pieces of advice based on both my own fundraising experience and data from a new report on women's entrepreneurship co-produced by Inc. and Fast Company:
1. Use your hands to write checks--and only to write checks.
The statistic: 53 percent of women experienced harassment while raising money.
Gentlemen, if we are asking you for any type of capital, that's all we are asking for. Turning around and harassing us is wrong--I shouldn't have to say that--and doing it leaves money on the table for your LPs.
The other day, one of the most experienced female founders I know told me, "I want to tell them all: Just write a f---ing check!" She's a three-time successful founder and investor, and even she was finally pushed over the line.
2. Don't get distracted by anything but my numbers.
The statistic: 62 percent of women experience bias during the funding process.
I used to believe with all my heart that if your company was the best in your category, the gender of your leadership wouldn't matter. Investors would bet on the numbers. I was 100 percent wrong, and feel ashamed that I didn't help more women through their processes. Now, I'll help any woman raising money. (If you need me, reach out--my Twitter handle is at the top of this page.)
HelloAlice.com is owned by a Latina woman. Yet, I can recall at least five instances when a white male colleague was addressed to start meetings. In seven of those meetings, I was asked if I was single. Twice, our owner and I were asked if our small children were going to be a distraction.
But the worst was part wasn't what men said. It was how they stopped paying attention the second they realized we were in the leadership chairs.
Gentleman, women are very, very good at making money. Focus on their abilities, not their faces.
3. Respect your bosses.
The statistic: 50 percent of women have been harassed by vendors or suppliers, and 27 percent by employees or subordinates.
This stat shocked me. I'll keep my response short: These women are your bosses and contract holders. You're going to get fired. You're going to lose money. Just don't.
4. Don't use your power to impose.
The statistic: One in four men have been in some way harassed by another man or woman. (This one comes from FTI Consulting and Mine the Gap's recent survey.)
It's not only men using their positions of power to impact individuals. This is incredibly bad for business.
The U.S. is in the middle of a talent war. You're probably recruiting every minute of the day. With that in mind, here's another statistic: Individuals are 55 percent less likely to apply for a job at a company with #MeToo allegation.
My company has walked away from existing and potential investors and partners with both public and private allegations. That bad behavior left money on the table.
To be a successful workforce and have strong companies, we need everyone at the table. Strong male advocates and investors are essential. To those who bet on women, please bring the others with you. Don't say, "It wasn't me, not my problem." It impacts all of us, both financially and socially. In short, dear men: We need you.
I know we can all do this. As Snoop Dogg says, "I got my mind on my money and my money on my mind." It doesn't need to be anywhere else.