Capital Women: 9 Gender Lens Investors to Know About

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 the field of gender lens 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, CT. These meetings served as a kind of incubator 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.

Criterion’s final report,The State of the Field of Gender Lens Investing, was issued in October of 2015. The central argument that the report makes, and that is worth repeating here, is that gender matters to everything, and impacts everything. This was the line from the report that put it all together for me: “Making the claim that gender matters is in and of itself potentially transformative, and by ensuring that gender matters in finance, the field of gender lens investing has the potential to transform the core assumptions underlying a massive system of power.”

Indeed. And that’s why, at Inside Philanthropy, we want to help identify more of the leaders of this powerful new vehicle for social change that involves us all.

To that end, we have developed a short list of 9 powerful gender lens investors in the field. This list is in no way comprehensive. There are more leaders out there in gender lens investing who we have undoubtedly left off (email us your thoughts on that for future work!).

The goal here is to help the field of gender lens investing become more visible and integral, particularly within philanthropy, as this sector pivots toward impact investing in a big way. 

Joy Anderson, President and Founder of the Criterion Institute

Joy Anderson appropriately starts off this list, and not just because her last name starts with “A.” Anderson is the President and Founder of the Criterion Institute, which has done some of the most groundbreaking work in the field of gender lens investing. She has been a great convener of gender lens investors with her yearly “Convergence” meetings in Simsbury, CT, and has helped the field take shape by producing some of the most groundbreaking research on the subject. The list of organizations and participants that Joy Anderson has convened to develop the field of gender lens investing is profound. (See Appendix A of Criterion’s report, by Joy Anderson and Katherine Miles, which, by the way, should be required reading for anyone in the field.)

Suzanne Biegel, Founder, Catalyst At Large Ltd, Founder and Chief Catalyst, Women Effect

In terms of being connected to the world of gender lens investing in myriad ways, you can’t get much more active than Suzanne Biegel. She is a founding member of Women Effect, a community with both online and offline components, working to “accelerate the women effect in the most strategic and efficient way.” But that’s not all. Biegel also serves on the board of directors of Confluence Philanthropy, the advisory board of Cornerstone Capital Management, and is a member of the Wharton Social Impact Investing in Women Advisory Council. She was also founding co-chair of the Values Based Investing Circle within Women Donors Network and is a long time member of Social Venture Network. With all this going on, you would think she would have her hands full, but there’s still more. Biegel is also a Senior Advisor for the Criterion Institute and is now working on a new initiative called Women Effect Investing.

Catherine Clark,Director, Duke University’s Case Initiative on Impact Investing

Clark is known as one of the earlier pioneers of gender lens investing strategies. Having worked with diverse players across the spectrum, including the White House Office of Social Innovation, the Omidyar Network, the Rockefeller Foundation, Calvert Foundation, USAID, and others, Clark has her roots in social innovation, but with a strong awareness of the critical value of  investing with a gender lens. Prior to her academic career, Clark was a professional investor, and was also Vice President of the Markle Foundation, giving her a wide range of professional experiences to inform her current work.

Kristin Hull, Director and Founder, Nia Community Fund and Partner and Portfolio Manager, Green Alpha Advisors

Kristin Hull has been a force in gender lens investing for nearly a decade, and has now established her own fund. Through her fund, Hull has created Nia Global Solutions, an equity product that brings together 35-50 companies from around the world with a focus on equity. Each of the companies in this portfolio has women in executive management and board leadership, and each is committed to diversity and sustainability. While still somewhat newer to the scene than some, Hull is a powerful advocate for gender lens investing, as evidenced by her recent article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, where she gives a strong overview of action in the field of gender lens investing. Hull also recently became a Partner and Portfolio Manager at Green Alpha Advisors, expanding her work into new territory all the time.

Diane Keating,Executive Director, High Water Women

As the leader of High Water Women (HWW), Diane Keating is charged with bringing together women in the finance industry to do impact investing. HWW started in 2005 with a group of women in the hedge fund and investment industries coming together to promote economic empowerment of women and youth. Since then, more than 4,000 business professionals have come on board to help others through programs in financial literacy, particularly for teens and young adults. In 2013, HWW launched the HWW Symposium on Investing for Impact, which had a strong conference this year that included leaders like Debra Schwartz, Director of Impact Investing for MacArthur, and leaders from innovative foundations like Heron, Rockefeller, and the Omidyar Network. This is a power hub for women in philanthropy that deserves attention and one that you can expect to hear more from in the future.

Joseph Keefe, President & Chief Executive Officer, Pax World Management LLC and subsidiary, Pax Ellevate Management LLC.

Keefe has been hammering away at gender lens investing pretty much from the start. Keefe is Co-Chair of the Leadership Group for the Women’s Empowerment Principles, a joint program of the United Nations Global Compact and UN Women, and is the former Chair of the Board of Directors of Women Thrive Worldwide. The author of a 2013 Pax World report, Gender Equality as an Investment Concept, Keefe is a vocal and articulate leader on the subject, winning him accolades such as being names the sole male recipient of Women’s eNews’ “21 Leaders for the 21st Century,” and being listed as a top 10 feminist man of 2015 by the Financial Times. In his top-level role at Pax World Management, Keefe has served as one of the most visible men advocating for a gender lens investing approach.

Sallie Krawcheck,CEO and Co-Founder, Ellevest

Known as one of the most senior women on Wall Street, Sallie Krawcheck is a mastermind of finance who has now broken out on her own to make gender lens investing a priority. Formerly president of the Global Wealth and Investment Management division of Bank of America, Krawcheck is widely published on issues ranging from Wall Street regulatory reform to how to manage a start-up. Krawcheck is on a mission to close the gender investing gap, and help women everywhere figure out a good equation for money in their lives. In a recent interview for CNBC about Ellevest, Krawcheck was quoted as saying, "If I were to go very Gloria Steinem on you, I'd say until we get this gap closed, we're not going to be equal." Her new platform, Ellevest, is just getting started on cashing in on the $11 trillion market of assets controlled by women.

Jackie Vanderbrug, Senior Vice President and Investment Strategist, US Trust

Vanderbrug is one of the earlier and most dedicated leaders in the new field of gender lens investing. She comes from Criterion, another pioneer in the field where she helped develop the Women Effect. Vanderbrug’s awareness of the interrelated nature of social change began when she was a domestic policy analyst for the U.S. Congress. Along with Sarah Kaplan, Vanderbrug recently authored an article entitled the Rise of Gender Capitalism, published in the Fall 2014 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, which discussed in detail how investing with a gender lens creates financial and social impacts, while also helping women.  

Jacki Zehner,Chief Engagement Officer, Women Moving Millions and President, the Jacquelyn and Gregory Zehner Foundation

Zehner was an early supporter of both Joy Anderson and Jackie Vanderbrug in their missions to build the field of gender lens investing. She’s written numerous articles on the subject, and has been one of the primary leaders working with high net worth women to take advantage of new tools for gender lens investing. An avid aggregator of research on women and girls (this collection has a dozen article on gender lens investing alone!) and a leader of all things related to money and women’s empowerment, Zehner and Women Moving Millions will be introducing a program focused on impact and gender lens investing starting this fall. This an area where Zehner is playing multiple roles to cultivate the terrain, with big plans to take it further.

Related: Meet the 50 Most Powerful Women in U.S. Philanthropy