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The Gender Gap and Gender Lens Investing

Sep 13, 2016 - Gender Lens by CCM Invests

We hear about the gender gap discussed in the news covering all types of fields and regions of the world. People can argue endlessly about the origins, culprits, and measurements of gender discrimination. Yet, data continues to show that women are significantly underrepresented in the world of financial services. PwC’s report “Mending the gender gap, advancing tomorrow’s women leaders in financial services highlights this data by noting that women in financial services hold only 19% of senior level positions, 14% of board seats, and 2% of CEO roles.[1] Women, however, aren’t the only ones feeling deprived. In fact, companies may also be losing potential gains by having male-dominated boards. Studies have found that companies experience a 42% higher return in sales, 66% greater return on invested capital, and 53% higher return on equity relative to their competition with less gender-diverse boards.[2]

“Institutionalized discrimination”, a common explanation for the underrepresentation of women in financial services, is defined as “discrimination that has been incorporated into the structures, processes and procedures of organizations.” This type of discrimination can be intentional or unintentional.[3] Patterns of certain groups not getting promoted within an organization, denied acceptance into training programs, rejected for rental agreements, are all examples of potentially problematic rises to institutional discrimination.[4]

At CCM, we look to contribute toward mending the gender gap in our office and through many of our impact investments. A look at CCM’s organization provides a glimpse into our conscientious efforts. As a firm with twenty employees, nine are women, five of which hold executive and senior positions. One of our fourteen impact themes, “gender lens”, aims to create equal opportunities for women and men. VERIS Wealth Partners explains in their report “Women, Wealth, & Impact: Investing with a Gender Lens 2.0 that when investors use this type of lens, they are examining historical imbalances in capital flows to women and deciding how to eliminate the differences. In addition to encouraging women’s leadership and shareholder engagement, using a gender lens also includes making investments empowering women through products and services.[5]  The financial service industry is only one of many areas where there may be a gender gap. We believe that strengthening women’s roles in society can also be incorporated into investment strategies.

[1] https://www.pwc.com/us/en/financial-services/publications/assets/pwc-advancing-women-in-financial-services.pdf

[2]  Cited in PwC report above European Commission, Women in Economic Decision Making in the EU: Progress Report, 2012

[3] http://www.faculty.londondeanery.ac.uk/e-learning/diversity-equal-opportunities-and-human-rights/institutional-discrimination

[4] Ibid.

[5] http://www.veriswp.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/CA_Women-Wealth-and-Impact-2.0_2015-03-05.pdf

 

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