LeadershipBroadsheetDiversity and InclusionCareersVenture Capital

Sex Strike, What-If Fund, LVMH Fenty: Broadsheet May 13

May 13, 2019, 11:06 AM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Emma Hinchliffe here today. Jacinda Ardern writes about how to prevent the next Christchurch shooting, white women have a blind spot when it comes to the pay gap, and we learn about the ‘what-if’ fund philosophy. Have a lovely Monday.

Walk-away vs. what-if. A few years ago, the walk-away fund, or the f*ck-off fund, was an idea getting a lot of traction; the concept being that women's personal savings aren't just for a rainy day—they're crucial tools that allow us to leave toxic situations, whether a relationship or a job.

Wealthfront COO and CFO Ashley Fieglein Johnson was an early advocate for the concept. In her 2015 piece for Fortune, Fieglein Johnson argued that her emergency fund was an escape hatch that gave her the means to walk away from an unhealthy workplace early in her career.

But now, Fieglein Johnson says there's more to it. In a new piece for Fortune, she clarifies that while the walk-away fund is necessary, focusing too much on the financial and personal obstacles women face takes away from the dreams we could use that money to pursue.

Her new philosophy is the what-if fund: looking at savings as yes, an escape—but also an opportunity.

"What if your best friend has a brilliant idea that you want to invest in? What if you suddenly can’t live without starting a new business? You’ll sleep better at night knowing that you’ve given yourself the financial cushion you need in case of truly anything," she writes.

Fieglein Johnson's own what-if experience came in 2000, when she put her money into a property in Costa Rica that she turned into a surf camp—not necessarily the most obvious investment. "Starting a business in a foreign country wasn't the safest financial, business, or life decision, and it has definitely had its challenges. But those challenges have been far outweighed by the joy, life experience, and connection to something totally different from my day-to-day that this business has brought me," she writes.

The what-if fund is an idea with an inherent amount of privilege; it's hard to use your savings to imagine opportunities if you're drowning in the challenges the f*ck-off fund was designed to address. But for those who can afford to take the optimistic view, it could be a healthy perspective switch.

What do you think, Broadsheet readers? Is the what-if fund the right way to think about our savings? What would you do with your walk-away fund if you turned it into a what-if investment? Send your thoughts over to emma.hinchliffe@fortune.com (your responses may be used in a future Broadsheet).  Fortune

Emma Hinchliffe


Ardern's op-ed. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern writes for the New York Times about how to prevent the next Christchurch massacre. Part of the solution, she writes, is ending terrorist and extremist content online. Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron will lead a gathering in Paris on Wednesday between world leaders and technology company chiefs to address the issue. New York Times

Pay gap blind spot. White women don't understand the racial pay gap. In a Morning Consult/ASCEND poll, 66% of white women said they agreed women are paid less than men for doing similar work—but only 34% of white women agreed that women of color are paid less than white women for doing the same work. (Remember our Equal Pay Day schedule, everyone?)  Morning Consult

 The purpose of a 'sex strike.' You might have seen some debate raging about a "sex strike." Actress and activist Alyssa Milano proposed that women withhold sex from men in protest of the six-week abortion ban in Georgia. As others pointed out, that thinking can perpetuate the harmful idea that "women are providers and men are consumers of sex." Washington Post

Sky transit task force? A task force to address harassment of flight attendants and women who work for airlines has been under the purview of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. But flight attendants accuse Chao of skewing the task force in favor of airline management. Bloomberg

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: The London Metal Exchange appointed Gay Huey Evans as chair, making the former Barclays vice chair the first woman in the job in its 142-year history. Longtime British Film Institute CEO Amanda Nevill will step down early next year. Margaret Gramann is now chief commercial officer at Crenshaw Associates. Ed tech startup Upswing's chair of the board Christine Wyatt became its chief revenue officer.


Maison Fenty. Rihanna's luxury house with LVMH is official. Rihanna is the first woman to create an original brand at LVMH and the first woman of color at the top of an LVMH maison, showing that multi-hyphenates from outside fashion don't have to be limited to street or sportswear, the NYT's Vanessa Friedman writes. The company's first products will be unveiled in the coming weeks. New York Times

Schools & stepmoms. One priority Sen. Kamala Harris discussed last week: changing the way the U.S. funds its public schools by not linking funding with a community's tax base. Harris also wrote for Elle about being a stepmom, or "Momala." In other 2020 news, long-shot candidate Marianne Williamson reached the donor threshold to participate in Democratic debates.

Network says adieu to the Angels. The struggling Victoria's Secret Fashion Show is ditching its broadcast of almost 20 years and blaming network television for its problems. In other news from the brand, it trademarked "First Love," a dig at bra rival ThirdLove.

Power forward. It's a new era—and an inflection point—at the WNBA. The league is still without a president after the departure of Lisa Borders, who left to become the Time's Up chief (you may remember she departed that job, too). Ratings rose 31% last season, but players have opted out of a collective bargaining agreement as they seek higher pay, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke about the league's business model last week. "We believe we can turn it into a successful business," he said. (Silver also said that the NBA should hire women for half of its ref jobs.)  Washington Post

Share today's Broadsheet with a friend. Looking for previous Broadsheets? Click here.


Was Shakespeare a woman? The Atlantic

I'm a manager, but to my boss and colleagues, I'm a 'girl' Washington Post

Who gets to call herself a single mom? InStyle

It's time to stop referring to maternity leave as 'generous' Fast Company


The question I would ask as a reporter is ‘Can we expect that corporate America can answer this problem on its own?'
Former 'Today' Show host Ann Curry on workplace harassment