Krawcheck Launches Ellevest at Dell

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Sallie Krawcheck is one-of-a-kind. That much was evident as Sallie took the stage on Dell’s Round Rock campus last week. Joined by our CMO Karen Quintos, the discussion was best described as financial acumen with a dose of wit and self-deprecation.

“What if I told you that by waiting to start investing, $100 falls out of your purse every day?” began Krawcheck. “You’d fix your purse!”

Sallie Krawcheck is legendary in the finance industry, with such roles as president of Global Wealth and Investment management at Bank of America, CFO at Citigroup, and CEO of Smith Barney and Sanford Bernstein to her name.

Krawcheck, a Wall Street veteran, has gone through a personal rebranding of sorts. She recently launched Ellevest, a digital investment platform for women, after realizing that Wall Street and the world of investing was built for men, by men, and put women at a serious disadvantage. She has become an outspoken advocate of closing the gender investing gap.

The focus on women in business is nothing new. Talk about the gender pay gap (women earn 77 cents for every one male dollar) has long been an integral part of diversity conversations. But the gender investing gap gets little airtime.

What is the gender investing gap? It’s the fact that more men are investing than women. Women often buy into myths that prevent them from taking the leap and starting to invest. According to one study, only 53 percent of women are saving for retirement versus 65 percent of men. The gender investing gap can cost women hundreds-of-thousand, even millions of dollars over the course of their lives.

Enter Ellevest. Krawcheck and her Ellevest team descended on Austin last week to launch the new platform with a mission to enable women to take control of their financial futures.

As a long-time friend of Dell, it makes sense that Krawcheck’s first stop was to the Dell campus to speak to an eager audience of team members.

Krawcheck and Karen Quintos discussed financial circumstances that are often, but not always, unique to women: taking a career break, living longer and thereby having to support themselves longer, or being left financially unstable after a divorce or death of a spouse.

Sallie, who speaks openly about her ex-husband’s cheating and their subsequent divorce, assured the audience that it can happen to anyone: “If Jay-Z is going to cheat on Beyonce, no one is safe.”

"If Jay-Z is going to cheat on Beyoncé, no one is safe."

Dell has a long history of working to empower women both inside and outside of Dell. From the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network to Youth Learning partnerships with organizations like Girls Who Code and Girl Scouts of America, Dell’s commitment to accelerating the powerful role of women spans a multitude of initiatives.

Dell recognizes that closing gender gaps and increasing women representation in the technology industry starts with creating an inclusive workplace culture. In 2012, Dell implemented Men Advocating Real Change (MARC) training through a partnership with Catalyst. MARC focuses on identifying where unconscious biases exist, engaging leaders to sponsor and advocate for under-represented groups at Dell, and having tough conversations at the leadership level to spur real change.

At Tuesday’s event, the urgency to empower women was evident from both the Dell and Ellevest side. Sallie and Karen acknowledged that the world is giving women more opportunities than ever before, but that there is still more work to be done.

A good first step is to ditch the notion that women can’t or shouldn’t invest. Women are capable and wise investors; they just need to get their foot in the door of an industry that has been created without them in mind.

That’s where Ellevest is bridging gaps that many didn’t know existed, by providing an investing platform designed for women. As Sallie puts it:

“Investing is MORE critical for women… Success is not forever. Failure is not fatal… The only thing that is certain is you have to risk.”

 

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