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Beyond advice to valuable action

Something we’ve observed time again across the startup community and corporate America at large is that women are far more likely to be on the receiving end of advice, rather than the recipient of valuable actions like deal flow, jobs, and connections.

The reason for this is nuanced and influenced by everything from historical to cultural factors. But the truth is, we’re all accountable for these opportunity gaps, and it’s our responsibility to fix them.

So why does this paradigm exist? And more importantly, how do we solve for it?

Changing this narrative requires not only that women adjust their approach, but also that their allies support in key ways. It’s anchored in three concepts:

Historical factors at play

We aren’t as far removed from women’s equality movements as it can sometimes seem. Just a century ago, women weren’t allowed to own property. And it’s easy to forget that even just 50 years ago, women didn’t have the right to open their own bank accounts.

Since women were denied access to managing money in a meaningful way, this led to culturally coded behaviors, not only just centering how women think about and manage their money, but also how women who express interest, opinions, or expertise in money are seen and sometimes penalized.

Historically, money has been a male domain. This isn’t to say we haven’t made a lot of progress towards gender equality, but it does mean that men have been taught to discuss, deal, and handle money differently. It’s second nature for men to enact deal flow and share networks in both professional and casual settings. It’s what they were taught and expected to do. 💰

Thinking & talking about money

There is an obvious difference between how men and women approach the money conversation, but one thing is certain — we need to find ways as women to change the way we think and talk about money. By doing so, we can unlock agency and autonomy in incredible (and tangible) ways.

Becoming comfortable in our heads and hearts about the matter of money is essential in changing the dynamics of deal flow and connections among women.

When it comes to transforming your relationship with money, here are key objectives to keep in mind:

Doing something about it

Women need to take a page from their male colleagues’ playbooks. We need to make a conscious effort to build our money muscle, regardless of the initial discomfort associated with it.

Men tend to think very casually about money and deal flow. For example, hiring friends, referring friends, giving their friends business, getting their friends to fund other friend’s businesses, and so on — without feeling any guilt about it.

Women on the other hand tend to keep those things separate, and are often less likely to explicitly ask in casual, social situations.

So how do we flip the script? There are things women and their allies can do today to change this paradigm.

  1. Look at who we give business to & scrutinize where we spend our money. This could be during a shift in suppliers within large companies, or even questioning your decisions in choosing a dentist or hiring your lawyer.
  2. Ask for what we actually need. It’s wonderful to receive advice, but we should be able to close that advice session by asking explicit questions. Do you invest in businesses like this? What would it take to become a supplier of choice? Remove the shame & realize your worthiness around asking for what you really want.
  3. Be generous in your network. If you think about the ol’ boys club — it really is just a network of men who’re friends who bring each other into deals and support each other. We should be able to scrutinize who’s in our network, and determine who would be a great fit for connections, hiring, and funding.

Just because the historical pattern exists, doesn’t mean we can’t own better deal flow, network-sourced jobs, and casual money conversations. There are a handful of simple things we can all do to turn this dynamic on its head.

Do you have any additional experience in generating more deal flow that we could add to our playbook? If so, we’d love to hear from you in the comments. 💬

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