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Co-Founder and chief operations officer, Adasina Social Capital

Social activism starts from the inside out, according to Maya Philipson, co-founder of Adasina Social Capital, an investment management and financial activism firm that focuses on social justice. In addition to its products, it publishes a list of publicly traded companies that do not support racially and economically just policies. As COO, Philipson employs what she describes as “operationalizing change” to “look [internally] at systems and processes that keep people out of financial services and keep their voices from being heard.” For example, she rewrote the employee handbook to be gender neutral, expanded the benefits package to include employees’ extended families, and recruits employees from nontraditional backgrounds, such as teachers, community organizers and small business owners.

“As a result, my employees are happier and more energized. They are more committed to the firm and our mission,” said Philipson, who spent six years on the board of directors of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Adasina’s mission is far-reaching: pressing the financial services industry to advance the movements for racial, gender, economic, and climate justice. “We wanted to make change at scale, on a societal level,” Philipson said. “We dreamed bigger and thought, ‘If we feel like we can, why not?’”

— Deborah Nason