This is the first of the Women Effect Investments updates that I have written, and so allow me to introduce myself. I?m Joy Anderson, the founder of Criterion. I?ve been working on gender issues for 25 years, building on an undergrad focus in postmodern feminism and a PhD in history deeply informed by gender studies. I?m driven by shifting the rules of the game, particularly the rules the that don?t work for all. When Jackie VanderBrug and I conceived of the Women Effect Investments initiative three years ago, it was in reaction to the gaps we saw – where women were not at the table in social investing. In particular, it was about the potential that we saw in how finance was shifting and wanting to make sure gender was part of that equation.
In so many yummy ways, we?ve done that. Our collective work with our partners and co-conspirators has put gender on the table as an important lens in the work of investing. For this movement to expand in scope and impact, we need to make sure we build a sustainable field around gender lens investing. Criterion has been and remains deeply committed to that field-building work.
And, over the last months, we?ve been making some changes in how we do that work.
The first change is the hardest. After successfully cultivating imagination and momentum around gender lens investing, Jackie VanderBrug is now departing Criterion and bringing her expertise to a different role that will take on new challenges in this space. Jackie has provided critical and remarkable leadership throughout these early, exploratory years of the initiative and has galvanized a passionate and powerful set of gender lens investing supporters.
Jackie taking a role in the field is part of a continued refining of Criterion?s role in building the field but not being the field. As so many of you know, that line is blurry. Over the next 6 months one piece of work we?ve committed to is creating a map of the field that can inform gaps and strategies of what it will take for us all to build this field. This map of the field is one of five field building projects that will make up the cornerstone of our work as Women Effect Investments. The other projects have been outlined in previous communications and include a messaging and communications plan for the field, work on an aspirational investment portfolio, a project strengthening gender inclusion in the world of metrics and building systems to support local gender lens investing work.
Criterion?s role is to identify and prioritize the need for these projects and then to coordinate the resources necessary to move the projects forward. In our new organizational model we are investing in the talent necessary to do the coordination, curation and convening that supports this work. We are investing in the systems that you have been (politely) demanding.
? We launch a new website in a few weeks which will better curate our collective work (look for an announcement soon),
? We will expand our work supporting our Speakers Bureau to make sure that every relevant conference has the voice of gender lens investing on stage,
? And of course you are all invited to Convergence XII: Investing with a Gender Lens, where the field comes together for amazing days of strategy and insight.
We invite all of you to join us in this work, because it is your knowledge, talent and imagination that will power this movement. For each of our projects we have teams of volunteers, pro-bono professionals, interns and partner organizations forming. You are the resources building the field; you are the activists changing the rules of the game.
We are taking time this summer to really focus on building systems for this new mode. Be on the lookout for additional updates from Women Effect Investments in the coming months. Each update will delve more deeply into specifics around the various projects and activities that the initiative has committed to.
We are honored to play our part in fueling this movement and invite you to join us in our continued efforts to accelerate its impact.
In closing, I want to return to Jackie VanderBrug. Jackie and I have worked as colleagues for nine years. I have truly, truly loved working with her. She is beloved by so many, but I had the remarkable privilege of traveling with her on amazing journeys; we have many, many stories. As we moved closer to the moment when she would no longer work at Criterion, I felt deep pangs of grief. At those moments, I reminded myself that, in this amazing web of work we collectively lead, we are still all working together. Join me in honoring Jackie?s specific role at Criterion and all she has done here. You all know her leadership has been invaluable to creating the possibilities of this moment for gender lens investing. Join me in our gratitude for all that she is and all that she will create.
With an enduring hope in the possible,