The social impact movement spreading across Silicon Valley
Women4Good started out as me just cooking breakfast for a few of my friends and it has already expanded beyond my dreams.
Today we have more than 700 members across the Bay Area in California and they are changing their own lives as well as those of thousands of others.
Here in Silicon Valley we are home to many of the most famous technology companies in the world. Airbnb, Twitter, Lyft, Google (where I have my day job), all of these have become partners to Women4Good, helping our members to realise their ambitions of doing social good.
Sometimes we achieve those ideals by raising money. We held a Refugees Welcome Gala that generated $30,000 for the International Rescue Committee, and we followed that up with a World Refugee Day panel event, hosted by Lyft, that helped people to better understand the issues relating to refugees and immigration.
Another fundraiser, which we called The Resist Party, raised $7,000 for women’s rights organisations and was Women4Good’s response to some of the recent events in the United States, such as the election of Donald Trump and the consequent Women’s Marches.
Our members are a remarkable mix. Some of them, like me, work for the biggest tech companies and others work in the many start-ups in this area. Others still work in the non-profit sector in the Bay Area. We bring these women together at monthly chats and discussions. Ideas spread.
I realised there was a need to help women to find their passion for giving back to society. Before I began working in the field of corporate social responsibility I used to be employed in sales, a very different environment.
Women4Good started in 2015 as breakfasts in my house - it was literally me cooking for some friends. It was very informal and I wasn’t out to try and start a company, I genuinely wanted to start connecting women and having great conversations.
But we had tapped into a need. Everything became more formal during 2016 when we started partnering with Google, Twitter, AirBnB, and the accounting software company Intuit and many other big names. We have partnered with 10 or 12 major tech companies in Silicon Valley and they were happy to be supportive. It’s how we spread our word and we are growing very quickly.
Connections are being made. One of our members, Nicole, runs a non-profit called Grow, helping inner city youth get the support they need so that they go to college. They were looking to throw a fundraiser so she reached out to Women4Good. One of our members, who works at Sales Force, one of the biggest tech companies in the Bay Area, secured a beautiful space at the Sales Force Tower to hold Nicole’s gala in March. What’s more, around 15 members from Women4Good volunteered to work at the event. It was truly a team effort.
Another member, Jessica, worked as visual designer at a tech start up before she decided to quit her job and became a visual designer at a non-profit, Miracle Messages, which connects homeless people. I am seeing members get the courage to even switch careers and Women4Good can help with that process.
Whether it’s changing jobs, or getting involved in events, or supporting the events of some of our members, women are finding ways to find their social impact voice.
Being a One Young World Ambassador has been an important part of my journey with Women4Good. I attended Summit in Johannesburg in 2013 as part of an international delegation of Googlers. I had been selected after leading a Bay Area-based Google program called Giving Week, which takes place in December and allows Googlers to raise money for their favourite good causes. After I attended One Young World I was inspired to make Giving Week into a global platform and, with help from some of the colleagues I met in Johannesburg, we have grown to reach 50 Google offices all around the world. Every year we raise millions of dollars and are having a great social impact in many places.
My hope is that Women4Good can help every woman to find her voice in social impact, whether you want to quit your job and move to a non-profit or to stay in your job and do something on the side that’s really fulfilling. I want us to be a destination for you to do that and I want Women4Good, just like Giving Week, to scale internationally with chapters around the world.
Maybe we should find a way for One Young World Ambassadors to get involved and help carry forward that work?
Women4Good is planning another fundraising gala to mark World Refugee Day on 20 June and is looking for a corporate partner for the event. women4good.com