I was surprised to read about gender-lens investing recently in an article by Paul Sullivan in the New York Times. I just didn’t know it existed. It is defined as “investing strategically to help advance women’s causes while earning a return.” I have heard of socially responsible investing where investors look for companies that “do no harm” to the environment or the communities in which they are located. Gender-lens investing falls under the umbrella of socially responsible investing with the additional goals of impacting positive social change and producing a financial return for the investor. Specifically, Sullivan explains that investments are made to “promote gender equality and women’s empowerment through both debt and equity investments in the United States and emerging markets.” There are three options currently utilized for making gender-lens investments:
- Make money available to enterprises owned by women.
- Focus on employment for women.
- Invest in companies that provide products and services that help women. An example is a company that provides clean-burning cook stoves to women in Africa and Latin America or companies that get water-purification systems to rural areas.