Meet Julie Goodridge, 2019 Academy of Women Achievers Awardee
On June 4th, 2019 we will join together and celebrate the achievements of five unstoppable women who demonstrate YW Boston’s mission of eliminating racism and empowering women at our 24th Academy of Women Achievers Luncheon.
Since 1995, as part of our mission to promote and celebrate the achievements of women, YW Boston has held the Academy of Women Achievers luncheon. Through this event we recognize and honor some of Boston’s brightest, boldest, bravest and most influential women. Leading up to the event, we are sitting down with each of the 2019 awardees for interviews and releasing one each month.
YW Boston is thrilled to be inducting Julie Goodridge, Founder & CEO of NorthStar Asset Management, Inc., into the Academy of Women Achievers. Learn more about Julie by reading our interview with her below:
We are excited to be recognizing you at our 24th Academy of Women Achievers Luncheon! Can you tell us a bit about how you were introduced to YW Boston and what it is about our mission and work that resonates with you?
I have known of YW for decades. I have been impressed with the YW’s focus on Racial Justice and Gender, this is something that we care about at NorthStar as evidenced by our staff makeup, our research, and our shareholder activism.
As Founder and CEO of NorthStar Asset Management, you provide clients with socially responsible investing. What inspired you to create NorthStar?
I had been at a brokerage firm downtown where I was the only female investment professional in a sea of 123 men. I was under close scrutiny, not only because I was different, but because my clients were different! Most were female, many were LGBT, all were lefty. They did not arrive on the 32nd floor in dresses and suits. There is only so much time in a day, and I decided not to spend my time explaining to my co-workers downtown why SRI was a legitimate practice; I knew it in my heart, but honestly we didn’t have the data in the mid 80’s to prove that our method of research and engagement added to our knowledge of each company and enhanced return. I decided to create my own home for doing the work so that I could reach beyond the constraints of the investment industry at the time. Starting NorthStar allowed me to always be on the lookout for ways to create change, welcome difference, and have time to think about and respond to an evolving sense of justice. 29 years later, with my wonderful staff, I am still engaged in this journey.
Can you tell us a bit about where you see parallels between YW Boston and the mission of NorthStar?
Up until last year, NorthStar was an all-female investment company. We, like the YW, want women to embrace their power and have the room to bring their talent and unique perspectives forward. We teach one another, we explore new ways to have impact on our clients and community, and we operate as a collaborative team in service of our work. While we manage our client’s investments, we have taught financial literacy classes to girls; written papers on fossil fuel divestment, electioneering contributions and prison labor; we have worked with our clients to expand their thinking around charitable giving while working with them on prioritizing their own spending; and we have done lots and lots of hand holding and investing in local communities.
All of our work involves researching investments in five major areas: race and gender, income equality, environmental justice, human rights and corporate governance. We do not believe that any public company is “socially responsible” at this point, and so we use our influence as shareholders to hold management accountable for upholding these five pillars. We like to go places in our work that others have not, and we are not afraid to ask hard questions. We, like the YW, do not wait for people to knock on our door to describe the help that they need to live a full, vibrant life. We think hard about the problems that we are facing as global citizens around discrimination, equity, climate instability, and access and try to craft conversations with the companies that we invest in to move them toward justice.
Our perspective has grown out of a realization that I had as a member of the LGBT community in the early 80’s. Corporations in the United States have greater protections for their LGBT employees, than the municipal, state and the federal government in which LGBT citizens reside. Corporations had the power to make life easier for LGBT employees, to advocate for their families by offering inclusive non-discrimination policies and health insurance, even when these families could lose their housing, their access to public accommodations, and even access to one another. While we wish that corporations did not have so much power, we faced the current reality and decided it was our fiduciary obligation to influence that power. The other part of our work is investing in communities through loan funds and partnerships that uphold the dignity and create access to affordable housing, safe food, and jobs.
As a woman working in a field that is predominately male, can you offer any insight or tips for women who are pursuing careers in the financial sector? And any insight into how the industry can be allies to these women?
I’ll probably get in trouble for saying this, but I hate the term that Cheryl Sandberg from Facebook has exploited, LEAN IN. Women should jump in and be their whole selves, especially in finance. You create the rules and methodology, don’t just learn the way it has always been done. The way it HAS been done is harmful and exploitative. Women in SRI have been at the forefront of the “impact investment” movement for decades, now all of a sudden impact investing is a THING. Believe in your gut and demand equal pay, flex time, and request a new analysis of commitment from your employer that includes your need to raise a family. Allow women to have children and bring their best selves back to work in a way that works best for them; it takes employer flexibility!
'Women should jump in and be their whole selves, especially in finance. You create the rules and methodology, don’t just learn the way it has always been done.' - Julie Goodridge, 2019 YW Boston AWA Awardee Click To Tweet
In 2003 you were the lead plaintiff in Goodridge v. Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health, which won equal marriage rights for same-sex couple in Massachusetts. Can you tell me how you feel that landmark ruling paved the way for the changes of the last fifteen years?
I think allowing equal marriage has allowed a whole generation of lesbian and gay kids to feel like they can imagine creating their own “legitimate” family. I think that same sex marriage and all the hard conversations that went on around it in the United States has helped us all learn to listen better to others about hopes and dreams. I hope that maybe someday LGBTQ people will not only be able to be married, but will be seen as worthy of protection from discrimination at the Federal level.
Lastly, the tag line of AWA is Unstoppable Women Changing Boston. Can you tell us about an unstoppable woman who has inspired you?
Mary Bonauto, the lawyer who conceived of the path to equal marriage. My loving friend, Donna Brazile, who, in the fight for democracy is fearless and will throw herself into any battle. And lastly, my daughter Annie, who brought us to marriage, survived our divorce, and is a fighter for justice in her own right.
Catch Julie Goodridge at our Academy of Women Achievers Luncheon on Tuesday, June 4, 2019.