Gender-Lens Investment: A Tool for Social Change
Impact investing is a growing movement with an unprecedented power to transform the world. Although the term seems relatively new, many investors around the globe have become increasingly interested, not only in obtaining a financial return, but in making a measurable social impact. We are witnessing a new collaborative effort to accelerate the power of capitalism to shape a better world. Capital markets have the power to generate social change, creating opportunities for everyone on the economic ladder.
You might be wondering what makes impact investment such a powerful tool for social change. The key differentiation is the alignment of excellent financial returns with greater capital flow, intentionally channeled toward solutions to our most pressing social challenges.
Impact investors choose their investments according to their own vision and values; an excellent example is gender-lens investment. Looking through a “gender lens” provides investors with new perspectives, unveils new opportunities, and also pinpoints system barriers that hinder gender equality.
Putting on gender “lenses” when exploring financial opportunities means considering gender a category for analysis and understanding investment as an important element for an overall solution. A gender-lens screen reveals which corporations have women on their boards and in other leadership roles, in their supply chains and distribution channels; it also identifies companies that have family-friendly policies or have designed products and services that positively impact women. In short, gender-lens investment is the prerogative to intentionally use the power of capital markets to advance towards gender equality.
It is key to emphasize that gender-lens investment doesn’t mean narrowing investment options. On the contrary, it means achieving both a social impact and financial return. In fact, gender-lens investment has proven to yield excellent financial performance. In a recent McKinsey study, using 2014 diversity data, it was reported that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 15% more likely to experience above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. Expanded 2017 data showed that this number rose to 21%.
Furthermore, when we look through a gender lens, the inequalities between men and women’s access to capital become clear. It is a fact that women have greater difficulty gaining access to investment capital, despite evidence that women-led companies have consistent returns. According to an International Finance Corporation-McKinsey study, women launching and expanding ventures around the world have an estimated collective credit gap of $320 billion: this is the difference between the capital they are seeking and the credit to which they actually have access.
The good news is that innovative investors are breaking these patterns. Impact investment is the answer to the urgent need for society to actively engage in the construction of stronger and more inclusive economies. We are building a new era of capitalism. The power to change the world is in our hands.
Angélica Fuentes, Founder Equal Invest
Angélica Fuentes is a Latin American businesswoman and impact investor, who has been recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of Mexico’s most influential women.
Ms. Fuentes was appointed CEO of Grupo Imperial in 1992 and quickly positioned the company as a top player in Northern Mexico’s energy sector. Under her leadership, Grupo Imperial’s annual growth rate increased from 5% in 1992 to 9.5% in 2005. Ms. Fuentes served as President of the Business Energy Network of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Agreement (APEC) from 2002 to 2004, and as President of the Mexican Natural Gas Association from 1996 to 2000. From 2007 to 2015, she served as CEO of Grupo Omnilife-Angelissima-Chivas. Under her leadership, the company became one of the top 100 corporations in Mexico.
Throughout her career, Ms. Fuentes has dedicated significant time and resources to NGOs, international organizations and professional groups that support the cause of women. She participated in the World Economic Forum’s Gender Parity Programme, and led the Mexican Gender Parity Taskforce. She currently serves on Secretary Clinton’s International Council on Women’s Business Leadership; is member of the Private Sector Leadership Advisory Council of UN Women; is a Global Advocate for the Girl Up Campaign, a United Nations Foundation program; co-chairs the PVBLIC LATAM regional platform; is member of the Latin American Program Advisory Board of the Woodrow Wilson International Center; and is member of the Global Dignity’s International Council of Advisors.
Her work in this field has been recognized by numerous honors and awards. In 2015, UN Women gave her the Women’s Empowerment Principles CEO Leadership Award; she was the first female CEO to receive this award for championing gender equality in the private sector. In 2016, PVBLIC Foundation, Ismael Cala Foundation, and the United Nations gave her the award for Latin Woman Empowerment. In 2017, she received the Corporate Social Responsibility Award from The Maestro Cares Foundation.
Gender equality, women empowerment and the eradication of poverty have always been a priority in all her endeavors. In 2014, she established the Angelica Fuentes Foundation. In 2016, she founded A Complete and The Imperative Fund. In 2017, she founded Equal Invest, The Beauty Station and A Complete Journey.