Ellevest Co-Founder Sallie Krawcheck: ‘The Power of Diversity Is Diversity’

Spencer Rascoff

Spencer Rascoff serves as executive chairman of dot.LA. He is an entrepreneur and company leader who co-founded Zillow, Hotwire, dot.LA, Pacaso and Supernova, and who served as Zillow's CEO for a decade. During Spencer's time as CEO, Zillow won dozens of "best places to work" awards as it grew to over 4,500 employees, $3 billion in revenue, and $10 billion in market capitalization. Prior to Zillow, Spencer co-founded and was VP Corporate Development of Hotwire, which was sold to Expedia for $685 million in 2003. Through his startup studio and venture capital firm, 75 & Sunny, Spencer is an active angel investor in over 100 companies and is incubating several more.

Sallie Krawcheck
Image courtesy of Sallie Krawcheck

As we mark Women’s History Month, Office Hours Host Spencer Rascoff revisits a 2017 interview with Ellevest CEO and co-founder Sallie Krawcheck as she talks about building a digital investment platform for women.

At the time, Krawcheck said she created Ellevest to be an answer to narrowing the gender investing gap.

“The truth is that–for all that, in this country, we talk about the gender pay gap–we also have a gender investing gap,” she said. “And this gender investing gap can cost women by not investing to the same extent men do.”

Krawcheck said she designed the app as if “Tory Burch met financial services,” using the designer who helped build Vogue.com, the team went with a design that gives its users a full interactive financial plan, marking out what they want to achieve in life.

“Women earn less, unfortunately, than men. For the time being women salaries peak earlier than men's,” Krawcheck said, adding that “women live longer. Women are more risk aware. They tend to want to explore the downside risk” more than men.

Krawcheck said Ellevest decided they would market to women differently, eschewing patronizing ads of the “don’t buy shoes, invest in stocks” variety.

“The question we've asked ourselves is not ‘how do we market to women?’ but ‘how do we serve women?’,” she said.

Krawcheck said she wanted to be sure the work culture at Ellevest reflected the company’s focus on individuals, and on different experiences. As a “recovering research analyst,” Krawcheck said she saw how diverse teams led to more innovation, lower risk, greater employee and client satisfaction and higher ROI.

“I mean, it goes on and on,” she said. “The power of diversity is [such] that diverse teams outperform smarter teams,” said Krawcheck.

That, she said, was a revelation to someone who had always assumed smarter companies did better. And it led to a change in how she evaluates the importance of inclusion in company culture.

“We want everybody here and we communicate to everybody, we want you to bring your whole self to work, so that you can feel that you can speak freely,” she said. “To my mind, again, the power of diversity is diversity”–not hiring a diverse staff and asking them to think and act in the same way, she added.

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dot.LA Engagement Fellow Joshua Letona contributed to this post.

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Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for dot.la. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

Image by Joshua Letona

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Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for dot.la. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

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Photo by James Opas | Modified by Joshua Letona

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