Power Pay

Vote with Every Swipe

Photo of Rafah Ali
5 2

Written by

Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

2/4/96
3/24/96

Where are you located:

Illinois: 60201 | California: 94027

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

https://www.facebook.com/rafah.ali
https://www.facebook.com/nadia.jamrozik.1

Date Started

4/15/18

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Idea (hoping to get started in the future)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

This project was born at our first hackathon, and won the Best Hack for Female Empowerment and Best Hack for Social Good!

As women in tech, we wanted to elevate women’s voices. We brainstormed how we might empower women within their existing routines and lives, and stumbled upon the realization that women are the primary buyer for most households. This is incredibly powerful - women can vote using their buying power as consumers, only supporting companies that support their values. If we can empower them with the knowledge to make decisions grounded in their values, we can make immense amounts of change.

Power Pay has since grown to include underrepresented minorities, as we think we cannot do this space justice until we consider all types of representation. We're excited by this project because we don't see an end to the impact consumers can make when they use their voices.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

There has been a wave of diversity efforts in recent years, which is exciting and proves our problem- and yet, the numbers are still dismal. Only 3% of Fortune 500 companies are transparent about the demographics of their workforce. Based on those reported, 72% of senior executives were white men. This not only impacts women and people of color in the workforce, but also radically changes how products are created - it affects everyone.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

We found that 76% of Americans would refuse to purchase a product if a company did not support their values, but when we searched for this information, it was not available anywhere. So, we created Power Pay, a system that factors a variety of factors about public companies: underrepresented minorities on the board, in C-level positions, in leadership, and in tech. We use a combination of self-reported statistics and EEO-1s. We envision Power Pay including a more holistic criteria, such as media presence (and how cases are handled), company culture, maternity leave, charitable activity, sexual harassment claims at the company, feedback from women at the culture, and diversity in other areas, like sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability.

We believe buying power is voting power. As such, our primary audience is consumers, so we can help them choose their everyday purchases based on their values. We will also have a company-facing product, so companies can hear actionable steps on how to improve their statistics, based on our research with other companies. This is powerful and empowering to many people: job-seekers, consumers, businesses, and even investors.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Imagine 25-year-old Courtney, who works as a Marketing Strategist at LinkedIn. At LinkedIn, she's experienced firsthand the difficulties of being a woman in tech. She's vocal on social media and is always the first to start discussions with her friends; she exclusively uses Lyft and Bumble because of the scandals associated with Uber and Tinder, and urges friends to as well. She's frustrated that she doesn't know what could be going on at the other companies she shops at.

Courtney discovers Power Pay, and suddenly has the chance to voice her beliefs every time she buys anything. She can easily browse companies' diversity data, charitable actions, support for underrepresented minorities (specifically in areas like tech), sustainability, and progress in the recent years. She cares about the environment and female empowerment, and now she can voice these concerns every day.

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

There are a variety of company-facing efforts doing excellent work, and we hope to be able to partner with them in the future: LPFI, Project Include, Includeed, Inclusion Clearing House, http://OpenDiversityData.org, etc.

We're different because we want to put the power back in consumers' hands. We shouldn't have to wait for companies to take action to be satisfied. As customers, we are critical to every business' survival, and can demand transparency and fairness. Integrating our values into everyday life shouldn't be a burden, and we want to provide the missing links to make it seamless.

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Our project has made a micro-scale difference in our community; as we share our project, we've had the ability to create this conversation around supporting companies that share our values. On a macro-scale, we plan to make our platform so expansive and intuitive that we can integrate values into every purchasing decision - big or small. Eventually, we believe this will encourage companies to be honest, rewarding companies that do the right thing, and obliging companies that do not (or simply don't tell) to change, because it affects their bottom line.

Beyond this, we want to inspire underrepresented minorities who are often overlooked, spoken for, and voiceless. We want to show them that they have a voice, and they can exercise it without changing anything major in their lives. Once they feel empowered, we believe they can inspire incredible change in their communities and beyond.

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Over the next year, we'll develop a plugin and a website which can nudge users to remember their values as they shop online, or can be a source of data for users curious about their frequented companies.

We'd need support creating this, implementing it, and launching a massive marketing campaign to create excitement and buy-in. In order to be sustainable, we may also need to come up with a revenue model, which could entail creating partnerships with talent firms that can help companies improve their diversity ratings.

We'd also need experts in the professional diversity space, as much of our evaluation relies on industry expertise and statistics that we don't have access to. We're looking forward to seeking out these partnerships.

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

Power Pay currently consists of Rafah Ali and Nadia Jamrozik, both of which are passionate university students with experience only in tech and startups. We'd like to expand our network to a panel of experts (ideally, underrepresented minorities) to provide insight on what each of their respective fields is lacking and strategies on how to urge companies to provide this. We also really need support from content strategists and marketing gurus who have run large-scale campaigns; we know how difficult it can be to ask users to change their habits, and we aren't experts. Eventually, we need funding in order to establish ourselves to the point where all these people are willing to help us, but as of now, the biggest piece is partnerships.

9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Mentors/advisors

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

We're grateful to be a part of the Northwestern community, a pre-professional environment that has many industry veterans with fascinating and valuable perspectives, and we've been leveraging our connections here. We've also been reaching out to women pioneering diversity efforts at their own companies to understand their perspectives on these issues. Lastly, we've been user testing with peers to learn more about our target audience.

However, in order to have standardized and reliable data, we need to have company partnerships and insider knowledge on what metrics to use to evaluate companies, which is the kind of mentorship we need most right now. A big blocker to our idea is the fact that much of this data is either unavailable, or out-of-date, or unstandardized (many companies use their own methods to collect these metrics, such as attributing people who decline to respond into underrepresented minorities), or sparse. We'd absolutely love to partner with people who can help us think through how to fairly evaluate companies, how to reward companies that are doing an awesome job, and how to navigate a space where most companies are too ashamed of their results to share.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French) (6)
  • Hispanic, Latino/a, or Spanish origin (for example: Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuba, Salvadoran, Dominican, Colombian) (7)
  • Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Religious minority (non-Christian)

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Email

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5 comments

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Photo of Claire Fallender
Team

This is a really creative approach to changing company behavior on diversity and other areas by making information more accessible to consumers. The lack of standardized information is a challenge as you point out. It might be good to look at organizations that gather single-issue data and learn from them how to addres this. But keep up the good work! I would love to have an ap like this when I go shopping.

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