Fidelity Charitable has come out with a new report on trends in women’s giving, and it is definitely food for thought for anyone in the women’s philanthropy field.
The report delves into generational differences in giving between Millennial women and Boomer women.
Before talking about the report’s findings, I want to draw attention to the methodology, so we know specifically who we are talking about when we talk about Millennials and Baby Boomers. The report used survey data from Millennials, which they defined as women age 17 to 37, and Baby Boomers, which they defined as women age 51 to 71. So women in the 37 to 51 range (like me!) are not being talked about in the report.
Of the $71.4 trillion dollars controlled by the asset management industry, only 1.1 percent of total assets under management are with firms owned by women and minorities.
You heard that right. Although the number of firms that are women- or minority-owned can range from 3 to 9% across the four different asset categories in the industry, assets controlled by those firms account for only 1.1% of all assets under management.
A press release from the Knight Foundation, which commissioned the study, states that this is the most in-depth study to date about ownership diversity in asset management. Additional analysis revealed that the 1.1% managed by women and minorities had no difference in performance from the 98.9% non-diverse asset management industry.
Things are really coming together for women’s funds and gender lens investing, as this new report details.
The new report is written by Joy Anderson, President and Founder of Criterion Institute, Ms. Foundation President Teresa Younger, and Elizabeth Schaffer, Chief Operating Officer of the Global Fund for Women.
I have not read the report in total yet, but from my first foray in, I am really excited to see how these advanced thinkers and leaders are putting ideas together and finding new synergy for social change and finance. This is powerful stuff!
The report is written using architectural design as an extended metaphor for how to integrate the different sectors of finance, women’s funds, and social change theory. Combining these three components, the report then makes practical suggestions about how to influence issues like domestic violence, the gender wage gap, and climate change.
The following letter is from a new coalition of gender equality organizations called WomenForward. They are a diverse group, encompassing direct service nonprofits as well as global mentoring networks, and more. The coalition was launched earlier this month by The PIMCO Foundation, a corporate donor from the financial sector.
These kinds of connections are one of the strengths of women’s philanthropy — being able to build broad-based coalitions that cut across multiple sectors to find a shared agenda. Check out the letter, and make sure to visit some of the organization’s websites, to get a sense of all the good that is happening out there in the world, despite the many challenges for women in our economy and culture.
Philanthropists and for-profit investors are increasingly using a gender lens to screen opportunities for funding social change as awareness of the need continues to grow. Funders now take it for granted that empowering women is a linchpin of global advancement. Yet report cards marking the 20th anniversary of the passage of the landmark Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995—a blueprint created by 189 governments for advancing women’s rights in 12 areas—show that progress toward gender equality has been painfully slow.
The field of gender lens investing has been on the runway and waiting for take-off for a while now, yet barriers, like the lack of corporations carrying out women-friendly policies and practices, continue to be a problem.
Meanwhile, some funders are right on top of the issue, pushing hard to understand and grow the field of investing with a gender lens. One prime example is the Wallace Global Fund, which provided a grant to the Criterion Institute in the fall of 2014 to create a report that surveyed gender-focused investing. Wallace is a longtime supporter in the arena of women’s empowerment, and also a lead player in the philanthropy divestment movement.
As part of its research on and development of gender lens investing, Criterion held “convergences” — four of them, once a year, in Simsbury, Connecticut. These meetings served as incubators for defining and consolidating the field of gender lens investing. The convergences also helped develop new language for the work, such as seeing gender lens investing as an “opportunity” rather than a “screen,” and shifting from “counting women” to “valuing gender in finance.” And while these changes may sound semantic, they represent much larger shifts to investment theory and approach, which produce significant results.