Two days ago Forbes, Huffington Post and others announced that Richard Branson and his wife Joan have joined the Warren Buffet and Bill Gates Giving Pledge. As had additional 11 more European billionaires – the first group of billionaires beyond the US to join the Pledge.
Looking closely at the list, they are all male billionaires. Some have a wife and her name is added together with the husband, but there is not one single billionaire woman from Europe who has pledged her riches to greater causes. Why is this? Are there no female billionaires in Europe? Of course there are – J.K Rowling (UK), Liliane Bettencourt (France), Birgit Rausing (Sweden), Guiliana Benetton (Italy) and many more according to Forbes list of Europe’s billionaire women. So what might be the reason?
The list of US billionaires holds a few female billionaires, proving that there are some women out there who want to pledge their wealth.
The Giving Pledge offers billionaires the opportunity to pledge at least half their wealth during their lifetime, or at the persons death, to causes she or he choose to see fit. According to Forbes this was not entirely clear to some billionaires outside the US and therefore made it somewhat of a challenge for Buffet to reign in new pledgers. Might this be a reason for European billionaire ladies? Maybe. It is no doubt an interesting question and from a swedish perspective, philanthropy has yet to gain momentum in this part of the world – in comparison to the US.
Other swedish names such as Antonia Ax:son Johnson and Liselott Persson (H&M) are on the Forbes list of female billionaires. Lets hope it does not take them too long to pledge their wealth to good causes, or better yet – to set up nordic social innovation funds to support homegrown social entrepreneurs striving to make the world a better place – today!