Remember the movie “Wall Street”? Almost 30 years after it hit the silver screen, it may be best remembered for two things: Michael Douglas’ character, Gordon Gekko, declaring “greed is good” and the brick-sized cell phone he carried. Back then, that phone was the highest of high technology. Today, it seems laughably archaic. Gekko couldn’t even text on it!
A newly released movie exposes a side of Wall Street that somehow has not seen the evolution that our cell phones have.
“Equity” is touted as the first film with a female-driven perspective on Wall Street. The stars are women. The writer and director are women. Even the financial backers who got the movie made are women.
Actress Anna Gunn stars as a competitive, ambitious, powerful investment banker. Early in the film, she is passed over for a promotion, told she rubbed people the wrong way. We wonder if Gordon Gekko and his real-life counterparts have ever told they need to be more likeable.
The title refers not just to equity as a measure of stock ownership; it points to the imbalance of men and women on Wall Street.
A report by the World Economic Forum found hedge funds have a male-to-female ratio of 80 to 1. It cites a Morningstar report that found women manage less than 2 percent of mutual fund assets. The largest private equity firms have zero female leaders. Less than 30 percent of registered investment advisors and less than 23 percent of certified financial planners are women, according to a report by CFP Board.
The movie is fictional, but the imbalance it depicts is a fact.
Why does this matter? Women’s Leadership LIVE wants women to achieve any goal they set for themselves and not find lucrative positions in finance closed to them, by practice if not by policy. And accessing capital is one of the biggest challenges for women seeking to launch or grow a business.
Research has found women entrepreneurs are at a disadvantage when it comes to getting funding, largely because investment bankers tend to lend capital to people like them. If no women are deciding where the money goes, they are less likely to get the available money. A report by Babson College and reported in CIO Magazine found only 15 percent of venture capital-funded companies have a woman on the executive team; only 2.7 percent have a woman CEO:
“Betting on people is problematic when nearly all venture capital managing partners -- the ones actually making the calls -- are men. If they want to invest in people they feel comfortable with and who show leadership qualities they admire, then they'll tend to choose people who look a lot like themselves.”
We’d love to see more women making the decisions – and not just in the movies.
“Equity” was well received at the Sundance Film Festival and bought by Sony for distribution. It’s still in limited release, but the movie’s producers note their investment has already paid off; they got all their money back plus a 15 percent profit after the sale.
We hope people will find and watch the movie. Audiences will not only see a good story; they will increasingly see women as a worthy investment.