Gender Lens Investing
Day two of the Summit kicked off with a special address from Jackie VanderBrug of U.S. Trust, Bank of America, who discussed the current status of Gender Lens Investing. Among other insights, Jackie noted that research proves that gender diversity in companies correlates with better business performance. In addition, women are 50 percent more likely than men to consider a company’s social or environmental impact important. Investing with gender in mind is a growing trend in the financial sector.
- Bringing in a gender lens helps provide more insight into products. Gender lenses are evident in three ways: access to capital, workplace equality, and products and services. All women everywhere have less access to capital. Workplaces need to include both men and women, as research shows 26 percent higher return on equity with three or more women on boards (CS), and there is a 15 percent boost to profit margins in companies with at least 30 percent women in leadership roles. Finally, products and services should be designed to understand all clients, including women.
- Women-managed hedge funds are outperforming those managed by men, but the firms with women in control are managing significantly less money.
- Some financial products have gender mandates and are focused specifically on gender, while others incorporate gender into their strategy. Examples include investments in the economically disadvantaged, where women are disproportionately represented.
- All gender-focused funds are small, with no more than $200 million. However, there is a new ETF that holds $500 million and is growing. There are currently around 50 funds that incorporate a gender lens. A few years ago there were fewer than 10.