Fearless Girl The Fearless Girl statue when it was facing the Charging Bull in New York. (Photo: Federica Valabrega)

Assets in gender lens investing — deliberately incorporating a gender analysis into a financial analysis in order to realize better outcomes — grew by 85% to a record $2.4 billion in the 12 months ended June 30, Veris Wealth Partners, an impact wealth management firm, reported Tuesday.

At midyear, the number of explicitly gender lens strategies holding publicly traded securities stood at 35, more than four times as many as in 2014. These vehicles include 14 separately managed accounts, nine exchange-traded funds, seven mutual funds, three gender equality bond issues, one exchange-traded note and one certificate of deposit.

GLS, a term coined in 2009 according to Veris, targets these outcomes:

  • Advancing women in leadership
  • Increasing women’s access to capital
  • Securing gender equity in the workplace and women’s and girls’ well-being everywhere
  • Supporting development of products beneficial to women and girls
  • Addressing gender justice and equality issues
  • Increasing active women investors’ knowledge, confidence and numbers

“The growth of gender lens investing is one of the most positive developments in a year overshadowed by the gender pay gap, lack of women on boards and sexual harassment scandals,” Veris’ CEO, Patricia Farrar-Rivas, said in a statement. “GLI is one of the best opportunities to mobilize capital and remedy social issues we need to put behind us.”

Veris reported that GLI mutual funds, ETFs, ETNs and CDs attracted $1.2 billion in capital, half the total $2.4 billion invested as of June 30. In addition, 10 new funds were launched between January 2017 and August 2018.

After originating in the U.S., GLI products have popped up around the world: five each in Canada and Europe, two in Australia, and one each in Nigeria and Singapore.

The report noted that GLI is evolving from single product offerings to opportunities for investors to construct complete GLI portfolios the better to address issues, such as gender-based violence, women’s chronic underrepresentation in leadership and the need for innovation in women’s health care.

It appears GLS investors are making an impact on the corporate world. According to Veris, companies and asset managers increasingly view gender equity and balance as competitive advantages. They are altering their policies to attract and retain talented women and to implement good corporate governance.

The report said institutional support for GLI is growing as foundations, pension funds, academics, governments, NGOs and research organizations embrace the category. Last year, Wharton Social Impact Initiative collaborated with Catalyst at Large and Veris and to publish a report on the world’s private market GLI venture funds.