Student Perspective – “Dollars And Change” Week of June 16

On Thursday, June 16 Wharton Social Impact Fellow Maureen Lally tuned in for a live recording of “Dollars and Change” on Wharton Business Radio, powered by SiriusXM. Here’s what she learned about workplace diversity and evolving investor attitudes.

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My soggy summer morning began with a trip to the SiriusXM studio, where I listened to discussions on the need for diversity in tech, and more. Dollars and Change” hosts Nick Ashburn and Sandi Hunt covered a wide range of topics with an illustrious group of guests.

The week’s first guest was Judith Williams, the Global Head of Diversity for Dropbox.

In the last five or six years, Silicon Valley has shifted to include a general prioritization of diversity– in an effort to broaden the field in an industry typically dominated by white men, explains Williams.

Williams pointed out the importance of acquired diversity, the diversity of a person’s experiences and mindsets, as another contributing factor to the heterogeneity of the workforce. Although staffers may look similar to one another, they can still bring a multitude of perspectives and diverse mindsets.

After an intriguing discussion of unconscious bias and the “errors in the way we process data,” I took an Implicit Association Test and was surprised by my own results (you can take the tests here). These biases can have immeasurable repercussions for a company, so it is imperative that we become aware of them.

We then heard from Matthew Davis of RENEW Strategies, an impact investment and advisory firm that serves a global network of angel investors seeking to make social impact and financial returns on their investments in Africa. Calling from Ethiopia, Matt spoke about the challenges of exciting investors to act abroad as “the majority of angels generally invest within 30 miles of home.” He emphasized the importance of building relationships and having clear focus as essential steps in building investor confidence.

Tivoni Devor, Manager of Partnerships and Outreach at Urban Affairs Coalition, then joined us in the studio. On the heels of his Generocity article “Is it time to ditch the 501(c)3?”, he spoke about how changes in fundraising strategies are nudging potential nonprofits to consider new earned revenue models. He reminded us that there are over 10,000 registered nonprofits in Philadelphia, but “only a handful of problems.”

What is the best way to share data and establish best practices in service of collaboration? Seems only time will tell as organizations navigate these new opportunities to rethink their infrastructure.

Our final guest was Tim Freundlich, President of ImpactAssets, calling to discuss how (and if) impact investing can be scaled to the mainstream market.

Tim, an innovator in new financial instruments in the social enterprise sector, said that “investor appetite is building” but that both investors and advisors need to learn more about the real risk and return potential of investments for impact. How do we teach them? The outdated belief that investing for good offers no financial return has been examined by research being done right here at Wharton. So the evidence base is growing; the challenge now is informing investors and advisors across the country, across generations.

MLally HeadshotMaureen Lally, a WSII Fellow, is finishing her Masters in Public Health in the Perelman School of Medicine. On the Global Health track, she is passionate about applying sustainable business solutions to public health issues both domestically and internationally.