By Alison Pyott, CFP®, CPWA®

The flow of assets into Gender Lens Investing (GLI) continues to grow rapidly. According to a new analysis by Veris Wealth Partners, asset growth in public market separately managed accounts (SMAs) doubled over the last two years – from $500M to over $1B in assets among 18 products.

Total public equity and fixed income GLI funds accelerated to over $12B as of June 30th, 2021 based on Veris research and the work of Parallelle Finance. In Veris’ 2018 GLI analysis, we reported $2.4B invested in GLI public market products. In addition, Catalyst at Large and Wharton Social Impact Initiative recently released Project Sage 4.0 – a global scan of private equity, venture capital and private debt funds with a gender lens. Over 200 private GLI offerings have raised $6B. This puts combined GLI assets across public and private funds over $18B.

Racial Equity and Gender Lens

At Veris, we are also focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) internally, across our investment managers, and through placement of capital. For our 2021 scan we asked fund sponsors if they were including a racial equity analysis as part of their strategy. Thirteen of the eighteen respondents said no or did not respond. Of those, one said they were considering inclusion. Others reported they have a separate strategy or an add on screen for racial equity. Some respondents mentioned the challenge in collecting racial equity data for their portfolios. Five managers reported they do include racial equity in their gender lens strategy.

Gender Diversity at Firm and Fund Levels

We also wanted to know if GLI fund sponsors were walking the talk. We collected information on gender diversity at firm and fund levels. Where applicable, most firms responded. Private firms that disclosed ownership had women ownership ranging between 20 – 100% with an average of 37%. Fund sponsors averaged 27% women board representation along with 27% women representation in senior management.

The Pandemic’s Impact on Women in The Workforce

While equity markets are robust and assets continue to flow into GLI products, it is becoming more apparent that philanthropy and investing alone will not create the outcomes we desire for women and their families. In the U.S., where we lack universal basic support for women and families, including family leave and affordable childcare, COVID is forcing many women to drop out of the workforce. According to research published by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, women’s participation in the labor force has not returned to pre-pandemic levels and when motherhood, race, and ethnicity are incorporated the results are worse. The researchers found “larger increases in pandemic-era labor force exits among women living with children under age 6 and among lower-earning women living with school-age children after controlling for detailed job and demographic characteristics.” (Source)

Public Policy Work

When we started Veris in 2007, we often stated that government and philanthropy alone would not solve the world’s problems and that we needed capital markets and impact investment to create change. However, as Impact Investing has grown we have come to recognize that philanthropy and Impact Investing alone will not create change. Over the last few years Veris has shifted to become more involved in public policy.

In 2021 we partnered with the PL+US (Paid Leave for the United States) initiative to campaign for a national paid family and medical leave policy by 2022. We have also experienced firsthand the patchwork of state level benefits and adjusted our family leave policy to fairly benefit all Veris employees across the country. We feel that a paid family leave program for all employees and more accessible and affordable childcare is essential for families and economies.

The Past and Future of GLI

In 2009 the term “gender lens investing” was created. In 2014 Veris published its first scan of gender lens investments. At that time assets totaled $100M. In just a few years we have seen explosive interest in gender lens investing, product, and asset growth. We can celebrate these achievements, but it is clear there is more work to do.


This research would not be possible without Edward Fisher, Tracy Lynch, and Mihir Mehan. We are also grateful to Suzanne Biegel, Catalyst at Large and Co-Producer, GenderSmart Investing Summit for her generous collaboration, and Diana van Maasdijk, Equileap for her support.

Thank you also to the companies who provided their time and information:

  • Aperio Group
  • Bank of America
  • Breckinridge Capital Advisors
  • BNY Mellon
  • Envestnet® PMC™
  • Fulcrum Capital
  • Glenmede
  • Green Alpha
  • Impax Asset Management
  • Invesco
  • Lazard Asset Management
  • Parametric
  • Prometheus Capital
  • Nia Impact Capital
  • Reflection Asset Management
  • Rothschild & Co
  • ThirtyNorth Investments, LLC
  • Anonymous

Alison Pyott is a Partner and Senior Advisor with Veris. She is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and Certified Private Wealth Advisor® (CPWA®) professional.