Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots

533: Leveraging Data for Gender Equality with Amy-Willard Cross

July 11th, 2024

Founder Amy-Willard Cross discusses the mission and operations of Gender Fair, the first consumer rating system for gender equality. Gender Fair aims to measure and promote gender equality within consumer-facing companies by utilizing data and the UN Women Empowerment Principles. Amy highlights the importance of transparency and data-driven insights to create social change, emphasizing that gender equality in corporate practices benefits not just women but overall fairness in the workplace. Gender Fair evaluates companies across five categories: women in leadership, employee policies, diversity reporting, supplier diversity, and philanthropy for women.

Amy also shares how Gender Fair has incorporated technology to increase its impact, including an app and browser extension that allow consumers to easily access company ratings on gender equality. These tools enable users to make informed purchasing decisions based on a company's gender equality practices. The app features functionalities like barcode scanning and logo recognition to provide real-time information about products. Amy emphasizes the significance of making gender equality data accessible and actionable for consumers, believing that collective consumer power can drive corporate accountability and fairness.

Throughout the conversation, Amy discusses the challenges and successes of building Gender Fair, the importance of leveraging economic power for social change, and the role of technology in facilitating gender fairness. She also touches on the broader impact of Gender Fair's work in promoting fair business practices and the potential for future expansions, such as a B2B database for procurement.


CHAD: This is the Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots podcast, where we explore the design, development, and business of great products. I'm your host, Chad Pytel, and with me today is Amy-Willard Cross, the Founder of Gender Fair, the first consumer rating system for gender equality. Amy, thank you so much for joining me.

AMY-WILLARD: Well, I'm very happy to be talking to robots, giant and small.

CHAD: [laughs] We'll try not to smash into each other too much on this show. I think we probably have a lot to learn from each other rather than conflicting.

AMY-WILLARD: I think so.

CHAD: Let's just get started by digging in a little bit to what Gender Fair actually is in terms of what we mean when we say a consumer rating system for gender equality.

AMY-WILLARD: It's about data. So, I was originally a journalist. I've written for a living my whole life: books, magazines, articles [laughs], you know, radio shows. I wanted to do something to promote equality in the world. And I realized that data is one way that you can want to have commercial value. Data has value that isn't, like, just blah, blah, blogging, and also, data can create social change.

So, I decided to do something like, you know, we know fair trade has created great change as has, you know, marine stewards certified. And also, I was inspired by something that the Human Rights Campaign, the LGBTQ organization, does, which is called the Guide to Corporate Equality. So, our goal is to measure how companies do on gender and then share that with the public.

And I didn't just make this up. We use a set of principles called the UN Women Empowerment Principles, which look at eight different sort of areas of an organization. And so, we created metrics that are based on these UN Women Empowerment Principles and also based on what is findable in the public record. We rate consumer-facing public companies, you know, like Unilever, Procter & Gamble, the shampoos that you use, the cars that you buy, the airplanes you ride on.

And we look at five major categories, such as, like, women in leadership. We look at employee policies like parental leave, and flex time, part-time, summer Fridays. I'll be curious to know what you do at Giant Robot. I bet you have good ones. And then, we also look at diversity reporting. Our company is upfront with their attempt to bring more diversity into the workforce and also supplier diversity. I don't know, are you familiar with supplier diversity, Chad?

CHAD: I am because we often are a supplier, so...

AMY-WILLARD: You are. So, when they ask you if you're diverse...but one way companies, especially the big companies that we rate on this public database, they can make a big impact by trying to buy from women and minority-owned businesses, right? When procurement spending is huge. That's a metric that people may not know as well, but it's one that I would encourage every business to undertake because it's not that expensive. And you could just intentionally try to move capital into communities that are not typically the most rewarded.

The last category that we measure is philanthropy for women, and that's important. People say, "Well, why do you measure philanthropy?" One, because the amount of philanthropy that goes to women and girls is 1.5% of all donations, and it used to be 1.8. So, pets get more money than women. I don't know how that makes you feel, Chad, but it doesn't make me feel very happy. I mean, I suppose if you're Monster Beverage and you don't have any women clientele, one, it's okay if you don't score well on your gender metrics; just meet the basic fairness. But maybe Monster Beverage doesn't have to donate to the community of women.

But if you're making billions of dollars a year selling a shampoo, I would sort of think it's fair to ask that there's some capital that goes back the other way towards the community of women. So, that's the measurement. So, we could do it...and we do it for small companies like yours, too. I imagine your company would do well from the little bit I've talked to people on your staff. It sounds like you have a lot of women in leadership. And I don't know your policies yet, but I'm sure you...I bet in Massachusetts I know you have parental leave anyway in the state, but you're a more progressive state.

But I think this is something that all of your listeners can benefit from is putting a gender lens on their operations because a gender lens is a fairness lens. And it includes usually, you know, this includes people who are not just all the same men, White men. So, it helps all businesses sort of operate in a more fair way to put a gender lens on their operations. And it's not hard to do.

CHAD: So, one of the things that jumped out at me, in addition to just the Gender Fair mission, as I was learning about Gender Fair, is that you have an app and a browser extension. And so, that's part of why you're on the show, not only do we care about the impact you're having.

AMY-WILLARD: That's right. Yeah [laughs].

CHAD: But you're a tech company. Did you always know as you got started that you were going to be making an app and a browser extension?

AMY-WILLARD: Well, yes, that was the beginning because you have data. You have to make it used. You have to make it available, right? Personally, I like to see it on packages. But yes, we've had two iterations of the app, and I'm sure it could always get better and better. The current one has a barcode scanner and, also, it can look at a logo and tell you, "Oh, this soda pop is not gender fair. Try this soda pop, which is gender fair." And it can make you a shopping list and stuff like that.

But, you know, tech is only good if people use it, so I hope they do. I mean, the idea is making it more accessible to people, right? I would like to have it as a filter, some easy tech. We've talked to big retailers before about having a filter put on online shopping sites, right? So, if I can choose fair-trade coffee, why can't I choose gender-fair shampoo?

I like it when people can use technology to create more fairness, right? If this is a great benefit to us if technology can take this journalism we do and make it accessible and available and in your hand for someone, you can do it in the store, for Pete's sake. You could just go on the store shelf, and that's pretty liberating, isn't it? When you think of it. It should be easy to know how the companies from which you buy are doing on values that you care about. So, I never really thought of it as a tech. I wish it was better tech, but, you know, I'd need millions and millions of dollars to do that.

CHAD: [laughs] Had you ever built in any of your prior companies, or had been directly responsible for the creation of an app?

AMY-WILLARD: No, but I did actually once when I worked at the major women's magazine in Canada, I did hire the person who created the first online sort of magazine in Canada, and she made money, so I felt good about that. I plucked her from...she was working as sort of tech support at the major...what do you call those? Internet providers in Canada. But no, I had not, and so I relied on experts.

I had a friend who was on the board of Southby, and he helped me find a tech team. I went through a few of them and, you know, it's hard to find. Like, where do you go and find people who will build something for you when you're a novice, right? As a journalist, I don't really know anything about building technology, and I certainly wasn't about to start at my age. It was definitely a voyage of discovery and learning, and I don't think I really learned much coding myself.

CHAD: That's okay.

AMY-WILLARD: That's okay [laughs].

CHAD: But was there something that sort of surprised you that you didn't anticipate in the process of creating a digital app?

AMY-WILLARD: Oh gosh. Well, you know, of course, it's difficult, and there's lots of iterations, and there's lots of bugs. And in every business, mistakes are part of what the construction industry, they'll tell you, "Mistakes are just going to happen every day. You just have to figure out how to fix each one." But, no, it's a difficult road. So yeah, I wish I could have coded it myself. I wish I could have done it myself, but I could not. But yeah, it's good learning.

And, of course, you know, I think anyone who's going to start building a company with technology...if it were me now 10 years ago, I would have actually done some coding classes so I could just even communicate better to people who were building for me. But I did learn something, but not really enough. But it's a very interesting partnership, that's for sure.

CHAD: And there is a lot of online classes now...

AMY-WILLARD: Right [laughs].

CHAD: If someone is out there thinking, oh, you know, maybe that's good advice. And there's a lot of opportunities for sort of an on-ramp, and you don't need to become an expert.


CHAD: But, like you said, even just knowing the vocabulary can be helpful.

AMY-WILLARD: I think that would have been useful. Yeah, definitely useful. But I definitely, like, you learn a little bit as a text-based person. You learn the rigor of just sort of, like, you have to think in ones and zeros. It either is or isn't. That helps. I learned that a little bit in working with tech devs. The last version we did actually white labeled off of someone who had created a technology to do was to do with building communities online. And their project failed, but it had enough backbone that we were able to efficiently build what we needed to on top of what they built.

CHAD: Oh, that's really...was it someone you knew already, or how did you get connected?

AMY-WILLARD: Yes, they knew one of our partners in New York. We tried it first as a community project. It didn't really work. And then, we realized it could actually hold our data at the same time. So, my first iteration of the app was different. But yeah, anyway, we've built it a couple of times, and I could build it even more times...

CHAD: [laughs]

AMY-WILLARD: And make it even better and better.

CHAD: So, on the sort of company side of you've worked with companies like Procter & Gamble, MasterCard, Microsoft, do you find it difficult to convince companies to participate?

AMY-WILLARD: What we do is data journalism. We don't contact the companies. We have researchers. We have journalists go and look through the SEC data and CSR reports and collect the data points on which we measure them. So, no one has to cooperate with us to get the data. It's journalism. It's not opt-in surveys, which is a very common...when I first started, no one was measuring women, and now there's lots of different measurements. And they're often pay-to-play surveys, so they're not really very valuable. Ours is objective and fully transparent journalism.

But then afterwards, our business model how we typically used to pay for this is that companies that did well on our index were then invited to be quote, "certified." And this was a business model that was sort of suggested to us at the Clinton Global Initiative, to which I belonged in 2016. And they loved what we were doing, using the free market to drive gender equality. Because, you know, our whole point is that women and people who care about women and equality, we have a lot of power as consumers, or as taxpayers, or as tuition payers, or as donors to nonprofits. And whenever you give money to an organization or a company, you have the right to sort of ask questions about the fairness of that organization. Well, that's our whole ethic, really.

I answered that question and came around to a different idea, but yes, no. So, the companies do participate to be certified, and some of them are interested and some of them are not, and that's fine. We do projects with them sort of like when we...we've talked about MasterCard, and we did a big conference with them in New York. This is pre-pandemic. And then, we did a big, global exhibit with P&G, and Eli Lilly, and Microsoft at TED Global, which was very fun. It was all about fairness. And it was great to talk to technologists such as yourself. And we made a booth about fairness in general, not just about women. And we had a fairness game, and it was very interesting to just discuss with people.

 I think people like to think about fairness, right? I don't know if you have children, but little children get very interested in the idea of what's fair very early on. Yeah, so some companies we have companies...we do some work in B2B procurement which is something that your listeners might be interested in thinking about is that just, like, supplier diversity. If I were purchasing your services, your company services, I would ask about the gender metrics of your organization. I already learned they're quite good.

So, big companies buying from other companies can put a gender lens on their B2B procurement. And so, that's a project we're doing with Salesforce, Logitech, Zoetis, Andela, which is another tech provider, and Quinnox, which is a similar sort of tech labor force, I believe. And so, we're going to be releasing a database about B2B suppliers. Actually, I should make sure that you get on it. That's a good idea.

CHAD: Yes.

AMY-WILLARD: That's a good idea because then it's going to be embedded in procurement platforms because this is a huge amount of money. It's even probably could be more money than consumer spending, right? B2B spending. So, I'm excited about working with more companies on that to help promulgate this data and this idea because it's an easy way to drive fairness in a culture. When the government isn't requiring fairness, at least large companies can. And in some countries, actually, the government requires its vendors to do well on gender. Like, Italy now has a certification for gender, the government does, and companies that do well are privileged in RFPs and also get a tax deduction.

CHAD: I don't want to say something incorrect, but I think the UK has, like, a rule around equity in pay...

AMY-WILLARD: Yeah, absolutely. You're absolutely correct.

CHAD: And yet they don't have equity in pay, the data shows.

AMY-WILLARD: That's right. And we don't have that in the United States. It's voluntary in the U.S. We measure that, actually, too. That's seven points over a hundred points scale is whether they, one, publish the results of their pay study. In the U.S., though, we do it in a way that isn't rigorous as the way they do it in the UK. In the're great to remember that, Chad, in the UK, I mean, I wish my government did that.

In the UK, companies report on the overall salaries paid to men and the overall salaries paid to women. So, that means if, you know, all the million-dollar jobs are held by men, it shows very clearly, and all the five-dollar jobs are held by women, it shows very clearly there's an imbalance. And in the United States, we just say, "Oh, well, is the male VP paid the same as a female VP?" That's sort of easier to do, right?

CHAD: When we've talked with some larger companies about different products we're creating or those kinds of things, sometimes what I hear is they're looking for big wins, comprehensive things. And so, I was wondering whether you ever get pushback or feedback that's like, "Well, not that your issue is not important, but it's just focused on one aspect of what our goals are for this year."

AMY-WILLARD: Right. Yeah, that's always a hard thing because when I think about fairness to half of the population, it's a hard thing for me to think that's not hugely important.

CHAD: Yes.

AMY-WILLARD: I have a really hard time, but yes, of course, we get that a lot. And, you know, quite frankly, when we did this B2B project with Logitech and Zoetis, they would ask their vendors, like, the major consulting companies and big companies, to take a SaaS assessment that we do. We have a SaaS product that private companies can take, or just instead of doing our journalism, they can just get their own assessment. And they were very, very reluctant to do this. That was just, you know, half an hour. It was a thousand-dollar assessment. And it took many months to convince these companies to do it. And that was their big customers.

So, yes, it is very hard to have...what's the word? Coherence on what one company wants versus what a big company wants, and it's hard to know what they want. And it's, yeah, that's a difficult road for sure. And it changes [laughs].

CHAD: Part of the reason why I asked is because from a product perspective, from a business perspective, at thoughtbot, we're big fans of, like, what can be called, like, niching down or being super clear about who you are, and what you believe, and what you offer. And if you try to be everything to everybody, it's usually not a very good tactic in the market.

AMY-WILLARD: That's right. That's right.

CHAD: So, the fact that you focus on one particular thing like you said, it's very important, and it's 50% of the population. But I imagine that focus is really healthy for you from a clarity of purpose perspective.

AMY-WILLARD: That's right. But at the same time, now there's lots of...when I started in 2016, there weren't a lot of things in this space, and now there's many, many, many, many, many, many, so corporations that want to sort of connect to the community of women or do better for women. There's many different options. So, there's many flavors of this ice cream. Even though we're niche, the niche is very crowded, I would say, actually, and people are very confused.

I mean, I think I remember hearing from Heineken that they're assaulted daily by things to, you know, ways to support women in different organizations and events. And they said they took our call because we were different. But yeah, there's many competitors. But, I mean, that's the main thing. In any business, in any endeavor in life, one has to show one's value to the people who may participate, and that's a challenge everywhere, isn't it?

CHAD: Yeah.

AMY-WILLARD: But the niching down thing is...and interesting we hear a lot these days is that women are done. We've moved on from that. Now we care about racial equality, and we say, "That's a yes, and… We can't move on."

CHAD: Well, the data doesn't show that we've moved on.

AMY-WILLARD: The data doesn't show that at all, and we're going way backwards, as you well know. So, I mean, actually, I don't know if you know, there's something called the named executive officers in public companies. Are you familiar with that? The top five paid people.

CHAD: Yeah.

AMY-WILLARD: They have to be registered with the government. Well, that number really hasn't changed in six years. That's where the big capital is, and the stock options, and the bonuses, and the big salaries. So, to me, that's very important that I would like, you know, rights and capital to be more...well, I want rights to be solid and capital to be flowing. And so, that's what we hope to do in our work.


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CHAD: So, going back to the founding of Gender Fair, when did you know that this was something you needed to do?

AMY-WILLARD: I wanted to serve, you know, you want to be useful in life. And I wanted to do work in this field that I care so much about. As I said, I think I told you I started doing journalism before, and I realized anyone could take the journalism, and they could, you know, Upworthy would publish things we would create and then not pay us for it. And I thought that's crazy.

But it's interesting talking to my husband. My husband's, like, a very privileged White guy. And I remember he said something to me very interesting. He said, "You either have power, or you take it." And he said, "Women have all this power." So, he helped me understand this. Like, you know, I think sometimes as women or communities that are underserved, you start thinking very oppositionally about what you don't have. But at the same time, you can realize that you do have this power.

So, what we're trying to do with Gender Fair is remind people they have this economic power, and they can use it everywhere, you know, in addition to our consumer database. I told you that we're doing a B2B database this year. And we also...I think next week I'm going to release a database of 20,000 nonprofits looking at their gender ratings. That was done as a volunteer project by Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology if you know them. So, yeah, this is an ethic that you can take everywhere in your life is you have this power, even as a consumer. Chad, even in your little town, you can ask your coffee shop if they pay fair wages. Like, this is just a way of looking at the world that I hope to encourage people to do.

CHAD: Along the journey of getting started, I assume you ran into many roadblocks.


CHAD: Did you ever think maybe this is too hard?

AMY-WILLARD: Oh yes. Well, not in building. In building, you're very optimistic, you know, it's just like when you're writing your first book. You think it's going to be a bestseller. Like, you build something, and you think the whole world is going to use it right away, and you're going to...I did have a great...when I first launched, I had a wonderful, I had, you know, press in Fortune. I had Chelsea Clinton. I had big people writing about us. Melinda Gates has written about us many, many times.

The fact that...well, I've always wanted to build, like, a consumer revolution of women, and I'm going to keep at it. But it's very daunting. It's very daunting when you're trying to move a boulder such as, you know, big institutions and companies that don't really want to change, and they're not motivated to do it. So, yes, those are my roadblocks.

It's not creating the massive amount of change that I wanted to do. And I'm not going to give up, but, yes, it is very daunting, and it's very daunting to see how little people care. Some people don't care about it, but some people in power don't care about it. But I think if you asked, you know, regular women, they would say, "We would like fair pay. We would like equal opportunity. We would like paid parental leave." They would want all these things, and hopefully, together, we can fight for them.

CHAD: Well, and, like you said, the premise of what you're doing is you're focused on the power that you do have, which is the dollars that you spend with these companies. I think that's such a smart angle on this because especially seems like the core in terms of the consumer-facing companies. That's so inherent in what this is.

AMY-WILLARD: That's right.

CHAD: Yeah, the angle of empowering consumers, and giving them the information, and leveraging the power that consumers have with these companies seems really smart to me...

AMY-WILLARD: That's right. If it works --

CHAD: As opposed to individually going to the companies and saying, you know --

AMY-WILLARD: "Please make it." Yeah. And some people would refute your use of the word empower because that implies that people don't have power. So, when I give speeches...I have a pair of beautiful gemstone red pumps, and I say it's the ruby slippers. We had this power all along. We just were not exercising it. But this power will only work, Chad, if it's done in the aggregate.

So, our challenge is to reach the aggregate of American women. I have to, you know, I have to go reach 50 million women this year. That's my goal. Reach 50 million women with this message that we have the power in the aggregate to make change. And that's the only way this will work. If it's just one by one, it really doesn't.

When I first launched, I found when I showed the app to people on the lower end of the economic scale, like, you know, people in the cash register; they understood this more than middle-class women. They understood the fact that if all women come together and, you know, buy from this company or don't buy from this company based on how they treat women, they understood that as a collective power. Whereas middle-class women who don't have as many struggles didn't really groove to that idea as quickly, which I thought was me, it was very interesting, you know, individuals feel more powerful on the higher end of the social scale. They may or may not --

CHAD: That is interesting.

AMY-WILLARD: Yeah. So, yeah, that's my goal. We'll see if I can do it. That's going to be my life's work, I think, Chad.

CHAD: How do you reach 50 million people?

AMY-WILLARD: I don't know. That's what I'm going to think about. You know, we're talking to different people about campaigns. We actually stopped the consumer work during the pandemic because it just, you know, everything changed. And so, now, this year, we're going back. I don't know; I mean, I guess if Ryan Reynolds tweeted about me, you know, that would help. If [laughs] anyone listening has any ideas how to reach 50 million, maybe 3 million is what I need to create social change.

CHAD: I imagine that it doesn't just come down to spending money on advertising. One, you might not have that money.

AMY-WILLARD: No. And that would be, you know, that also would be not in the ethics of what Gender Fair is, for example, right? That means I would be paying money to Facebook and basically Facebook, I guess, and Google. If you look at the major spends of nonprofits, they're advertising with these big tech giants. And so, we have...actually, we have some partnerships with large women's organizations, and I think that's the way we hope to spread that. And if I had money for advertising, I would want to spend it with other women's organizations, or women's owned media, or women influencers.

There's another idea I talk about in my work I call the female domestic product, and so talking about how much money women earn or capital we control. And the more we can grow that female domestic product, the more we can achieve equality actually. I always say, in America, you get as much equality as you can pay for sadly.

CHAD: I was just about to say, "Sadly."

AMY-WILLARD: Sadly, yeah. It's true. We still don't have the Equal Rights Amendment. A hundred years.

CHAD: Well, 50% of the population would say, "Why do we need an Equal Rights Amendment [laughs]?"

AMY-WILLARD: All men are created equal, but yeah, it's quite astonishing. I don't know. Do you have daughter, too, or just a son?

CHAD: I have a son, and my younger one is non-binary.

AMY-WILLARD: Well, I'm sorry to be so binary. Excuse me.

CHAD: It's okay.

AMY-WILLARD: Well, interesting. And that's great, too, isn't it? Because we see how fluid gender is and their rights are just as important as a woman's rights. And these are, you know, women and non-binary people are often excluded from things. And so, we are all working together just to create fairness. I'm sure that the same thing happens in your family, too.

CHAD: Yeah. I think fairness is one of those things. Sometimes equality is not necessarily the same as fairness.


CHAD: But I think, like you said at the top of the show, fairness is something that we seemingly learn very early on. But one of the ways that it comes across is I'm being. It is unfair to me, especially in little kids, at least with my kids [laughs].

AMY-WILLARD: Of course, yes.

CHAD: That was the thing that they learned first and caused them the most pain. And it was very difficult for them to see that something was unfair for somebody else. So, I remember saying to my kids when they were little, "Fair doesn't mean you get your way."

AMY-WILLARD: That's right. Not fair.

CHAD: Right [laughs].

AMY-WILLARD: It's true. But then, you know, it's funny. When I talk about equal pay, I often say to people, "When I used to cut cakes for my children, I cut equal slices, and I didn't put them under the table," like, you know what I mean [laughter]? So, why are we so cagey about the slices of economic pie we give to one another?

I mean, there's no reason why pay has to be secret, right? If it's fair. You could easily talk to people. Well, you know, Chad gets paid more money because he's the CEO, and he does the podcast, and he has to talk to the bank, you know what I mean? So, you could easily explain that to people. And I don't know why we have to keep salaries a secret from one another. It seems very irrational to me and not really a part of fairness.

CHAD: Yeah. Yep. That's, all of our salary bands at thoughtbot are public on the internet.

AMY-WILLARD: Cool. On the internet. Oh, I'm very impressed.

CHAD: Yeah. So, you can go to thoughtbot and use our compensation calculator. You enter in your location, what role you have.

AMY-WILLARD: Oh. So, you do it for other people. Oh, that's cool. That's a great service. And that was just some sort of tech that was sort of pro bono tech that you all built for the world.

CHAD: Yeah, we created it for ourselves.

AMY-WILLARD: And then you shared it.

CHAD: Mm-hmm.

AMY-WILLARD: Then you open-sourced it. Great. Well, I bet you have a lot of happy employees.

CHAD: I like to think so [laughs]. I do think that there is an inherent understanding of fairness. And when people ask how we do things at thoughtbot or how we should do things, I say, "How do you want it to be?" I think that guides a lot of how we do things and why a lot of stuff we do is just common sense. And it's not until ulterior motives or maintaining power comes into play where the people in power don't want to give it up. Because, like you said, people don't understand that by giving someone else a bigger piece, they think that that means their piece is smaller.

AMY-WILLARD: Right. Or they just think they deserve it. I was reading last night about succession planning and CEOs. And apparently, a lot of them just stay...oh, sorry, in big public companies, not in their own companies, they stay on way too long. And all these consultants are saying it's the four Ps, you know, position, privilege, pay, and then...I forget the other one. But one of them was jets. They don't want to give up their jets.

So yeah, I think when you have things, it seems fair, and sharing them up some of what you have seems unfair. But I do think humans can see fairness. But sometimes, when you have a lot, it's hard to see it. You're able to justify why it may be not unfair to people who don't have as much as you do. But anyway, I can't change human nature, but most people do understand fairness. I think you're right about that.

CHAD: Well, one thing...I, you're a Public Benefit Corporation.


CHAD: Did you set out to be a Public Benefit Corporation from day one?

AMY-WILLARD: Yes, you know, originally, when it came to how was I going to pay for this, the first part I paid myself with my own money. I hired MBAs. I hired researchers. I built the tech. And then, I wasn't sure how I was going to pay for it going forward. But I knew I didn't want to become a nonprofit because, in my mind, there are so many things that...there are so many problems that women have that need to be solved by nonprofit organizations, planned parenthood first among them.

Like, I don't want to take money away from women's organizations that help women fleeing abusive homes. So, I wanted to see if I could pay for this in the private sphere, which we've been able to do, and not have to seek donations because, really, I felt very strongly about not taking money out of that.

That's part of the FDP, the part of the female domestic product, but the part that's contributed by people philanthropically. And there isn't a lot of philanthropic dollars going to women, as I mentioned before. So, yes, I knew definitely I wanted to be a Public Benefit Corporation. And there's no tax benefits to that, you know, I don't know if you are yet, but...

CHAD: No, it's something that we've looked at, but it's very attractive to me.

AMY-WILLARD: Right. And there's also the private version of it being a B Corp, which is also very useful. It's an onerous process. Public Benefit Corporation isn't quite as onerous, I don't believe. I mean, we're in Delaware and New York, but it just says that you're, I mean, we exist for the public good. I'm not existing to make millions of dollars. I'm existing to create social change. And some organizations don't want...are leery of working with us because we're not a nonprofit so that's to assuage them. Well, it's not really about...we're not about enriching shareholders. It's just a different way to pay for it.

But yeah, I would encourage all companies to look into being a Public Benefit Corporation or do a B Corp assessment or a Gender Fair assessment. It helps them, you know, operate in a world that is increasingly more values concerned. Maybe 20 or 30 years ago, it wasn't so on the top of mind of many people. We were coming out of, you know, warring '80s capitalism. But nowadays, the younger people, especially, are very focused on issues of fairness and equality. So, I think those tools making business better that way are very useful.

CHAD: Well, I would encourage, you know, everyone listening to go check out the app, if you're at a company, to look at doing the assessment. Where can people do those things?

AMY-WILLARD: Ah, well, yeah, I would encourage them to do all those things. You're right, Chad. I would encourage you to download the app and check some of your favorite brands. It's very simple. Do the paid subscription.

And then, if you're a company, you can do an online assessment. You just go Gender Fair assessment, and you'll find it. If you're a business and would like to participate in our B2B database, you can also do the assessment, or there's a coalition for Gender Fair procurement, where you can get information. We had the prime minister of Australia speak at our launch. It was quite excellent.

We'll be launching our nonprofit. Actually, I think it's already online. It's called, if you want to see how your favorite nonprofits do. But, basically, we're here to help any business or organization do better on gender. And you can email me And I would love to help anyone in their journey for fairness of any kind. Yeah, many ways to participate. Just go to or

CHAD: Awesome. Amy, thank you so much for sharing with us. I really appreciate it. And thank you for all the good that you're doing in the world with Gender Fair.

AMY-WILLARD: Well, I appreciate the way you're running your company in a very new, interesting, and apparently ethical way. Privately, I could look at your website and your career page and figure out how you're doing. But it sounds, to me, when I've talked to people, that you're doing very well. And I honor your curiosity about learning from others.

CHAD: Awesome. Well, listeners, you can subscribe to the show and find notes along with a complete transcript for this episode at If you have questions or comments, email us at You can find me on Mastodon

This podcast is brought to you by thoughtbot and produced and edited by Mandy Moore.

Thanks so much for listening, and see you next time.


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