Thursday, July 15, 2010

Women's Corporate Influence

As reported in research from the Center on Philanthropy, women are a strong influence on couple giving.  Would Bill Gates have given as much without Melinda, he says probably not and it wouldn’t be as much fun.

Taking this concept a step further, what role can women play in corporate giving and investment?  If women used their influence, what dollars could be unlocked to be given and invested.  Not only women who are in positions of power within the companies and on their boards, but spouses of the men who serve in those positions.

I recently read Fareed Zakaria’s column and Jon Meachem’s editorial in Newsweek.  They suggested that the private sector could unleash a corporate stimulus similar to the government’s stimulus package.  They threw out a challenge.  “The Federal Reserve recently reported that America’s 500 largest nonfinancial companies have accumulated an astonishing $1.8 trillion of cash on their balance sheets.  By any calculation (for example, as a percentage of assets, this is higher than it has been in almost half a century.  And yet, most corporations are not spending this money on new plants, equipment or workers…[Such] investments would likely have greater effect and staying power than a government stimulus.”

We know that despite some inroads, most corporate CEO’s are males, as are a majority of the board members of the largest corporations.  All of whom most likely have spouses.  What if these spouses were to suggest that the corporations give more to charity and invest more in the future of America?  Would women have the same kind of influence on corporate giving as they do on the couple’s individual giving?  Maybe not but perhaps we should try.  Try being bold not only in family giving but in influencing corporate giving and investment through our husband's positions.  Just a thought.

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