Alumna Develops App and Rating System that Empowers Consumers to Buy from Businesses with Policies and Practices that Support Women

March 9, 2016
Amy-Willard Cross '82, founder of the BUY UP index

Does the company you buy coffee from offer their employees maternity leave? How many women does your bank have in senior leadership? Does the grocery store chain where you shop have family-friendly policies?

BUY UP Index, a new app and rating system developed by Amy-Willard Cross '82, helps answer these questions and makes it easier for consumers to identify and support businesses that treat women leaders, employees, and customers well.

"Money talks…when the human rights campaign started rating companies on LGBT policies only 14 received an A, now 366 companies do,” Cross said in a video. "Hundreds of companies change the way they do business, we can do the same for women's equality." Women make 85 percent of buying decisions and, according to the Federal Reserve, are expected to control two-thirds of the nation's wealth by 2020.

The index assigns grades based on whether company policies are good for women and aims to empower shoppers to buy from businesses that show a commitment to women through internal company policies, strong presence in corporate leadership, philanthropic efforts, and positive representations in marketing and advertising.

"We designed BUY UP Index standards to be uncompromising, where ratings can’t be bought, sold or negotiated," said Cross. "The only way for a company to game its score is by appointing more women to the C-suite, releasing stereotype-busting ads or making large donations to women's causes."

A full description of the rating methodology is available on the BUY UP Index website.

Cross told Fortune, "This is not about scolding people, but rewarding companies that support women." She told the Canadian publication Women’s Post that she hopes the system encourages companies to make good decisions. "I'm hoping to create change and I'm hoping to reward companies that do it well...That's my dream!"

In an email, Cross said she is grateful for Wellesley and feels the value of the College in her work and life. "Speaking up is something the College taught me and all of us," she said. 

In what she called her "quest to make the world more fair," Cross said she enjoys connecting to "a tidal wave of women who are trying to do the same" and helping wherever she can, "Whether that means hiring a Wellesley alumna, supporting a fellow alumna's company or simply making people more aware of the companies that practice and reinforce women-friendly policies and practices."

She added, "The opportunities I've been granted have connected me with other change-markers across the globe and helped me educate others on the power of connecting with women and creating safe and strong networks that uplift us in our personal and professional lives."

Cross is the founder and editor in chief of VitaminW and a member of the Clinton Global Initiative. She was named a 2015 Global Thinker by Foreign Policy magazine; BUY UP was named an "economic girl power" by the same publication.