Q&A with Lucie Lapovsky, Chair emerita of Re:Gender

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Anne McPherson

Vice President, Global Communications email [email protected]

Lucie Lapovsky, chair emerita of Re:Gender, and one of the principal architects behind the recent merger with the ICRW, reflects on Re:Gender’s 35-year legacy and why the organization pursued the merger in today’s complex operating environment. She shares her perspectives on what women’s organizations should consider as they map their pathway forward.

ICRW: Re:Gender, played a significant role in framing a women’s agenda here in the United States by providing important data on the status of women living in the US. From among its many research initiatives, which do you consider to be Re:Gender most influential and why?

Lucie Lapovsky: Re:Gender had an audacious mission: to end gender inequity and discrimination against girls and women, by exposing the root causes and advancing research-informed action.” It did this through bringing diverse groups of people together through its research network, corporate circle and president’s circle and through developing reports about critical issues, which it wrote in laymen’s terms and put into the hands of the public. Among the more influential work that it has done were its reports several years ago on “Taxes Are a Woman’s Issue” and “Women in Fund Management” and its recent work on housing and immigration.

The Re:Gender Board took the bold move of merging with ICRW to elevate its research and policy agenda to a global platform and to promote healthy consolidation in a crowded sector. What would your advice be to other women’s organizations that are considering how best to secure their legacy?

It is challenging to have the resources to accomplish your mission and to support your infrastructure thus you need to continually be looking at ways to do this. For Re:Gender, we continually asked the question of whether there were other organizations that we should consider joining. In deciding to merge with another organization, Re:Gender considered three things: could it accomplish its mission better alone or jointly with another organization; were their more economical ways to operate; and were there other organizations that could enhance its mission.

In reviewing these questions, Re:Gender realized that almost all areas it studied had global implications and we did not have the bandwidth to go global in our research. Second, providing both the administrative and fundraising infrastructure for a small organization (budget of less than $2 million) was costly relative to our program expenditures. Third, we were fortunate to find an organization that meshed seamlessly with us and is significantly larger than we were. This will not be true of all organizations but we would say you should always be scanning the horizon to see if there are merger partners out there that has a better likelihood of accomplishing your mission and will be more compelling to your donors. We do need to realize that the universe of donors for women’s organizations is unfortunately quite small and we believe that these funders want to contribute to the organizations with the best potential for accomplishing their mission.

As a new Administration prepares to enter the White House, what issue would you prioritize for the on-going US agenda for women and gender equality?

Progress toward gender equality for women has been very slow on all fronts. Women still make up the majority of the poor. We lag significantly behind men in terms of leadership whether it be in the political arena or on the boards of corporate America or in the C-suite.  Women are still making $.77 cents on the dollar. Our agenda needs to continue to identify these inequities as well as explore the root causes be they the lack of family friendly policies to the dearth of role models we have for young girls to the lack of sponsors that we provide for young women as they are advancing through their careers. Let us hope that our grandchildren will see a world in which there is equality on all fronts for women and men.