Public Companies Are Driving Sustainability

By Anders Ferguson, Partner

Public companies committed to sustainable innovation are playing a growing role in transforming the global economy.

In the past year, we’ve seen this commitment translated into new thinking that is addressing climate change and the environment, while placing more emphasis on positively impacting the communities in which companies operate. Equally important, sustainability can lead to growing inclusion of wealth creation for investors, workers and partners.

The business case for sustainable business practices gets even stronger with each passing year.

A worldwide body of research indicates that operationalizing sustainability often makes companies more efficient in their supply chains and systems. The process typically involves the implementation of new technology and process improvements that enable companies to do more with less negative impact on the world.

As companies evolve, they frequently transform how they approach opportunities, solve problems and ultimately create value. In the words of sustainability leader William McDonough, these companies begin thinking in terms of “good design.”

That, in turn, stimulates creativity that can reduce the negative byproducts of their operations, such as pollution or environmental degradation. The interconnectedness of products, the environment, workers, stakeholders, customers, and financial success have a cumulative positive effect for individual companies and society as a whole.

A study by MIT Sloan Management Review and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) found that the most successful sustainable companies articulate the positive impact sustainability has on their business.

The key message in this research: Sustainable business practices can uncover new revenue streams, reduce risk, power innovation and lead to better business models.

In another study, MIT and BCG found that when a manager’s compensation is aligned with sustainability – as it is at Unilever – the process multiplies. The study’s authors found that these companies typically look beyond product and focus on the economic, social, and political impacts of their brands and business.

The benefits of sustainability on a company’s brand are also significant. Brands today create at least 30% of total corporate market value. Brands communicate a company’s mission and story. When sustainability is an integral part of a company’s brand, significant new opportunities to connect with their customers and build “brand loyalty” can emerge.

At the same time, when executive-level officers, managers and employees buy-in to sustainability, new cultures and values can motivate and inform employee behavior and inspire innovation. This has a positive, self-reinforcing effect on all of a firm’s stakeholders. Consumers experience this via products that inspire and motivate our shopping habits: from electric cars to organic baby food to clean water.

We are seeing companies putting new focus on their labor practices and product design. Recently, Deloitte found that a company’s values are a key differentiator in recruiting and retaining employees, particularly in today’s full-employment economy.

This is especially true of younger professionals, who want to work for companies solving the world’s problems, not perpetuating them. Separately, McKinsey & Company found that many companies pursue sustainability because it is part of their corporate values and improves the health of their businesses over time. These companies often create executive-level sustainability positions with budgets to effectively implement these programs. Boards of Directors can play a critical role empowering the process.

Increasingly, investors view public companies committed to sustainability as potentially strong performers, while acknowledging the possibility of lowering risks. That’s because sustainability often includes technology investment and process improvements that strengthen their competitiveness. As a result, more capital is going to sustainable companies.

Companies in Veris’ portfolios are at different stages of integrating sustainable business practices. By taking a deeper look at these companies, we can see the important role that innovative public companies play in creating meaningful impact in the world. You can read more about these companies in our 3rd Annual Veris Impact Report.

Gender Lens Investing: 2018 Is A Watershed Moment

By Patricia Farrar-Rivas, Alison Pyott, Luisamaria Ruiz Carlile

Linda Pei had a vision. In 1993, she launched the Women’s Equity Mutual Fund, the first U.S. fund investing in companies with positive track records ofhiring, promoting and generously compensating women.

Her fund marked the birth of “gender lens investing” (GLI), which is founded on the premise that investing intentionally for gender balance and equity can generate both financial and social returns.

For decades, however, there wasn’t much progress. Over the next 20 years, only four new strategies emerged explicitly incorporating gender into their financial analysis of publicly traded securities.

GLI Blossoms
Fast forward to 2018. Over the past 12 months, we’ve seen more growth in GLI in a single year than we have in the past two decades.

As of June 30th, 2018, investors had poured $2.4 billion into 35 GLI vehicles holding publicly traded securities, according to the 2017 Gender Lens Investing report from Veris.

This is a 23-fold increase from $100 million just four years ago.

These investment vehicles range from U.S. and Canadian ETFs, to French and Nigerian mutual funds, to Australian ‘gender equality bonds.’

Click here to download Gender Lens Investing: Bending the Arc of Finance for Women and Girls.

Fully Diversified GLI Portfolios
As the number of GLI vehicles has increased, investors have begun making the leap from investing in single products to constructing entire, fully diversified GLI portfolios with clear missions.

Our 2018 report highlights three of these portfolios, each tackling distinct social issues: gender-based violence, women’s chronic under-representation in leadership, and the need for innovation in women’s health care.

This week, Alison Pyott and Luisamaria Ruiz Carlile of Veris will be sharing this research at theGender-Smart Investing Summit, taking place in London on November 1-2. The goal of the summit, expected to attract 300 champions of GLI, is “moving gender-smart capital with vision and velocity.”

Linda Pei would be proud that her vision endured.

Even greater would be her delight at the accelerating flow of capital into public market GLI products: the first $1 billion took 25 years. The second $1 billion took 12 months. How long to $100 billion? The first $1 trillion?

What You Can Do To Address Climate Change

By Helene Marsh, Veris Client

Climate change can be an overwhelming topic for any individual or community. So how can anyone make a meaningful difference?

What You Can Do To Address Climate Change By Helene MarshThat’s the question my friend, Sarah Loughran, and I had been asking ourselves for several years. Today, supported by a concerted community effort, we’ve succeeded in helping eight Marin County municipalities reduce greenhouse emissions by purchasing 100% renewable energy for their government facilities.

At the same time, we’ve helped raise awareness about how individuals can support the renewable energy market in their community by purchasing energy from renewable providers for just a few dollars more a month.

As an impact investing client of Veris, I wanted to share my experience to hopefully inspire others to think boldly and creatively in addressing climate change.

Creating Impact
Sarah and I met while serving on the Marin County Civil Grand Jury in 2013. Fast forward four years, and we were together again taking the signature Master Class of Environmental Forum of Marin, a local leader in training environmental advocates for the last 45 years.

We soon learned that the passage of climate change legislation in California requires communities to meet specific greenhouse gas emission reductions over the next 30 years. That law requires each community to produce a climate action plan that details how these goals will be achieved.

When we looked at how Marin County municipalities were meeting the intent of the law, we were surprised by what we found: Each of the climate action plans, for the 12 Marin municipalities, included residents and municipalities purchasing 100% renewable electricity as options for reducing greenhouse gases. Only 4 municipalities made the switch to clean energy for their own operations.

With the support of 19 environmental groups and members of the community, Sarah and I launched a campaign to change this in 2017.

Working together, we convinced eight of the 12 Marin jurisdictions – Corte Madera, Larkspur, Novato, San Rafael, Ross, Mill Valley, Tiburon and the County of Marin – to make the switch to using 100% renewable electricity for government buildings, facilities and streetlights.

The four other Marin jurisdictions – Fairfax, Belvedere, San Anselmo and Sausalito – had already made the switch prior to the start of our campaign.

The upshot: Marin County leads the way in California and across the country in purchasing 100% renewable power for its municipal accounts.

The whole process took only ten months!

We met with every town or city manager and many council members to understand the challenges they faced. We wrote reports and talking points to make the case for 100% renewable energy. We gathered supporters in each jurisdiction to attend public hearings. We kept jurisdictions informed of progress across the country and sent follow-up correspondence. In total, we attended 17 council meetings.

The positive results speak volumes about the effectiveness of citizen power and democracy.

How You Can Buy 100% Renewable Energy
So how did Marin County source the renewable energy?

Through the local “Community Choice Aggregation,” MCE. The non-profit company is one of many Bay Area companies providing clean energy that can be purchased by households, businesses and government agencies. (See below for a list.)

While it’s true that 100% renewable energy is more expensive than non-renewable energy, the difference is minimal. On a $200 power bill, 100% renewable electricity is less than $10 a month more.

Many of the Community Choice Aggregation companies listed below provide comparisons of buying renewable vs. traditional power sources.

MCE: Marin, Napa, Solano and Contra Costa Counties. The 100% renewable option is called Deep Green.

Clean Power SF: San Francisco. The 100% renewable option is called Super Green. Peninsula Clean Energy: San Mateo County. The 100% renewable option is called Eco100.

Sonoma Clean Power: Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. The 100% renewable option is called Evergreen.

Silicon Valley Clean Energy: Santa Clara County. The 100% renewable option is called Green Prime.

East Bay Community Energy: Alameda County. The 100% renewable option is called Renewable 100.

Sarah and I are continuing to advocate for the purchase of clean energy to reduce our carbon footprint. Our work and experience demonstrate what can be done by those committed to having impact in their communities.

* * *

About Helene Marsh
Helene Marsh is a clean-energy advocate who lives in Tiburon, California. In addition to co-leading the effort to transition Marin County municipalities to 100% clean energy in government buildings, Helene built one of the first LEED certified homes in the country and sells power to the grid from solar panels on her house. She is also an MCE Deep Green customer and drives an all-electric vehicle to further reduce her carbon footprint. Helene earned a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering and Visual Arts from Harvard University and a Master’s degree in Environmental Science & Management from University of California, Santa Barbara.

Opportunity Zones

Opportunity Zones

By Lori Choi, Partner

“Opportunity Zones” are a hot topic in impact investing these days, but what are they and why might they be important for investors?

Embedded in the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law, December 2017, are provisions around “Opportunity Zones.” They ask governors of all states and territories to designate up to a quarter of low-income census tracts as investible zones. The aim is to attract investment to these distressed communities by allowing investors to defer, reduce, or potentially eliminate capital gains taxes over time.

Why is this program important? According to Rockefeller Foundation President, Rajiv Shah, Opportunity Zones represent “the single biggest tax incentive to invest in low-income communities across America that we’ve seen in 100 years.”1 While impact investing champions are cautiously optimistic about the amount of dollars that could flow to low income communities, this new policy is also exciting in its potential to draw more mainstream investors into impact investing. According to the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance “there are currently trillions of dollars’ worth of unrealized gains in the capital markets. If even a portion of those gains are moved to invest in distressed communities, it could have a transformative impact.”2

Investors must invest in Qualified Opportunity Zone Funds within 180 days of selling an appreciated asset to receive the tax benefits, although the number of investment funds being created is still limited. Several of Veris’ impact investing partners are looking into forming Opportunity Zone Funds. We look forward to keeping you updated about how these may or may not be appropriate for your situation and goals.

Investors in Qualified Opportunity Funds will get to benefit in three ways:
• Taxes due on capital gains deferred until December 31, 2026, at the latest.
• Capital gains will be reduced by 10% for investments held 5+ years and 15% for 7+ years.
• Capital gains will be permanently eliminated for investments held 10+ years.

Impact investing champions like the Kresge Foundation3 have come forward to support the creation of Opportunity Zone Funds.


Equity Markets Regain Footing In Q2 2018

Equity Markets Regain Footing in Q2 2018

By Jane Swan, CFA, Partner

After a rough start to 2018 in US financial markets, domestic equities are largely back on track. The charts below show the return for each asset class and highlight the strong return of US markets in the quarter. The losses of the first quarter were reversed. This wasn’t the case in international markets, which were very negative. Fixed income markets reacted to yet another interest rate hike and produced flat returns.

The strongest returns for the quarter came from Energy stocks. The sector returns graph reflects that the greatest growth came largely from more cyclical sectors. These are sectors that tend to respond well when consumers are optimistic.

Capital Markets Q2 2018

With the S&P up 2.6 percent year-to-date, it might be hard to remember February, when the year-to-date return was negative 10 percent. While we have not yet fully returned to January’s market high, the February correction has not derailed the now six-and-a-half year market expansion.

Looking at what changed over the second quarter, markets appear to be adjusting to a new normal. The market overreacts to fear or enthusiasm over political announcements. With so many pronouncements and almost immediate government revisions, plus often contradictory analysis from pundits, it’s difficult for the market and investors to make sense of the news. A case in point is the long-term impacts of tariffs and retaliatory tariffs in the second quarter. While the long-term impacts are speculative at best, the actual implementation of US tariffs on imported goods were about two-thirds the size of the original announcement.

Also interesting is the broader reaction of the bond market to ongoing interest rate hikes. Thus far, the longer end of the yield curve hasn’t responded to the Federal Reserve’s recent rate increases.

Treasury Yield Curves Q2 2018

The chart shows the current yield curve (6/30/2018), the yield curve from one year ago (6/30/2017) and a more typical looking yield curve from 25 years ago (6/30/1993). You can see that in the last year, while yields on the near end of the curve have moved up almost a full percentage, the farther end of the curve has hardly moved at all. Thirty-year bond yields are up just 0.14 percentage points from a year ago.This flattening of the yield curve is typically an ominous sign for markets. It shows that bond purchasers are anticipating either the possibility of inflation or an economicdecline.

At Veris, we constantly monitor the news, but keep focused on fundamentals and actual data. Corporate earnings are expected to grow about 20 percent over the next 12 months, significantly higher than the 20-year average of 6.2%. Reported unemployment remains very low, as does wage growth. With core inflation remaining at low levels, consensus expectations are that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates two more times this year.

There are several other key indicators we continue to monitor closely. We are watching whether earnings reports come in at or near expected levels or whether they will be significantly revised. We also are watching the yield curve for continued flattening or a reversion to a more normal, sloped curve. The near and longer-term economic impact of global trade and tariff policies and fluctuations in oil prices also have the possibility of derailing the long financial expansion.

What's Next In Community Wealth Building

What’s Next In Community Wealth Building and Social Equality

By Luke Seidl

The past 12 months have been a big opportunity for investors interested in Community Wealth Building and Social Equality.

Judging by the growing number of product offerings, there will be many new ones in the next 12 months.

In this blog, we highlight a few of the opportunities. To see our full analysis, please click here.

Focus on Income Inequality
Almost 19 million renters and homeowners are “severely cost-burdened,” meaning they pay more than half their income toward housing. Growing evidence points to housing as a main driver of wealth disparity in America.

In response, Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs), Credit Unions and banks, private equity and real estate fund managers are raising capital to increase the supply of affordable housing.

Inclusive economic growth should be aided by a new program in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that incentivizes long-term investments in distressed communities designated as “Opportunity Zones.” The Act will enable investors in qualifying funds to defer, and in some cases, reduce taxes on realized capital gains.

Human Rights and Justice
Sustainable investors continue to intensify pressure through shareholder activism to eliminate conflict minerals, human trafficking, child and slave labor in supply chains, and to protect indigenous rights.

In the wake of the Parkland, Florida shooting, more investors are divesting not only from gun manufacturers and retailers, but also the banks financing them. Meanwhile, the newly mobilized Investors for Opioid Accountability (IOA) coalition is working to address companies’ role in America’s latest public health crisis.

Assets invested with a Gender Lens, which are focused on companies empowering women and girls, reached $2.2 billion deployed through 70 public and private equity and debt fund vehicles. Several funds have raised money to focus on broad-based employee ownership or quality job creation in sectors and communities impacted by automation.

The possibilities are growing for impact investors to complement the work of governments and NGOs in creating a more equitable, prosperous and sustainable planet. The arc of history can bend toward justice, but not without the collective intent to make sure it does.

The information, analysis, and opinions expressed herein are for general and educational purposes only. Nothing contained in this piece is intended to constitute legal, tax, accounting, securities, or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment, nor a solicitation of any type. All opinions and views constitute our judgments as of the date of writing and are subject to change at any time without notice. Veris is grateful to its ongoing relationship with Envestnet and, where this commentary first appeared.

Veris Named Best For The World By B Corp

Best For the World – Again

By Anders Ferguson and Nicole Davis

Veris was just named Best for the World by B Corp – for the sixth year in a row.

We’re very proud to achieve this milestone and are equally honored to be recognized among the best of the best. Veris was named in the top 10% of all 2,400 B Corps around the world.

This is inspiring for the entire Veris team, yet what’s even more important is how B Corps are changing the face of business for the betterment of everyone.

Transforming Business
B Corp’s interconnected standards provide a unifying framework for organizations globally to drive sustainability and benefit from it.

The standards apply to every aspect of an organization’s operations. They place a high priority on being responsible stewards of the environment. They encourage respect for and empowerment of employees. They drive our colleagues at Veris to aspire to excellence and improve our products and services.

What’s more, B Corp is continually raising the bar. Veris, like others that hold the B Corp designation, must recertify every two years. The process looks at every part of a company’s business practices. Each time, the standards are even higher.

A Better Way
From our perspective, being a B Corp is the right thing to do, and it also an impetus for innovation and transformative sustainability systems.

Research from well-respected firms such as McKinsey & Company, along with major universities, confirm that B Corps often exceed the performance benchmarks of their peer group competitors.

Organizations committed to sustainable business practices are typically innovators that use new and emerging technologies to operate more efficiently. They also practice good corporate governance, which invariably leads to greater gender and racial diversity at the executive management level and throughout the organization.

From a risk management perspective, companies committed to sustainability are also lower risk. Some global banks are recognizing the reduced risk profile of B Corps and are offering lower interest rates to those companies.

At the same time, global companies are partnering with B Corps to accelerate creativity. B Corp companies welcome fresh ideas and innovation, or new ways of knowing. As a result, they are often growth companies, which means they are attractive investment partners for individual and institutional investors.

In Our DNA
B Corp standards are increasingly the management philosophy that powers everything we do at Veris. They are both our guiding light and practical roadmap in creating change that sticks and in creating new value internally and for all our stakeholders.

A few years ago, we implemented paid days off from work for volunteering. The results have been terrific for employees and Veris. We’ve implemented a series of 21-day challenges for our employees, focused on Kindness, Mindfulness, and Wellness. Our Volunteer Program and 21-day Challenges help build community, both internally and externally. When we are all touched by generosity, our personal and professional lives are enriched.

Another benefit of being a B Corp is the insight we have gained as a firm. In addition to reviewing our internal sustainability, we’ve analyzed our external impact with our partners and investment managers. This has greatly helped Veris, our clients, and our business partners see the benefits that an impact focus has in our offices and building renewable energy systems.

Our commitment to being a B Corp has also had a notable effect on the way we deliver impact wealth management services.

B Corp status has pushed us to find ever more impactful investment products and services. That has created wonderful new opportunities for our clients. For example, we have become leaders in the field of Gender Lens Investing, one of the most promising new developments in impact investing. Our leadership in Gender Lens Investing is no coincidence considering our gender diverse team. Two-thirds of our employees are women.

The Best for the World award is greatly appreciated by everyone at Veris. It’s recognition for the all the work we have done to create an impactful company, and for all the work B Corp has done to make business a force for good in the world. It has clearly made us better, and collectively, it adds up to very positive impact.

Learn more about B Corp Certification.

Racial Parity In America

Racial Parity in America: Making Progress, But Still A Long Way To Go

By Patricia Farrar-Rivas, CEO

At the recent Confluence Philanthropy’s Practitioners Gathering, I couldn’t help but notice the growth of interest and attendance in the panels with a racial equity focus.

At the 2016 event, the racial equity panel I attended barely attracted 10 people. This year, there were two back-to-back racial equity panels, and the rooms were packed.

I left the conference more emboldened than I have been in a while.

The reason for my optimism is that people of color attending the event, as well as some allies, brought the root issues of racial equity and equality to the impact investing conversation. There was more frank discussion about the topic than I had ever heard at a gathering of impact investors.

Thinking Bigger
We have so many urgent and entrenched social and environmental issues to solve, while climate change is breathing down our neck. They not only include racial equality and equity, but also gender equality and equity, workplace and domestic violence, mass incarceration, gun violence, access to both primary and secondary education, plastics in ocean, lead in our homes and schools, access to healthcare, to name just a few.

All of these issues are important, and we cannot solve any of them on their own. We can’t take a siloed approach. We must raise them all with the same level of intention. They are all symptoms of economic systems built on flawed constructs of race, gender, class and entitlement.

So, I am also very encouraged to see more impact investing funds founded and managed by women and people of color. Today, the diversity of those who currently control and influence capital allocations simply don’t reflect the full breadth of our gender or racial demographics. The key to solving our multitude of issues is democratizing the flow of capital. Changing whose hands are on the levers may be just what we need to benefit people and planet.

Changing the Conversation
Over the years, impact investing gatherings like Confluence Philanthropy have attracted those seeking to change the impact of capital flows and who controls the powerful levers of money. There are an increasing number of diverse voices in the conversation.

Big Path Capital, for example, has put on a number of regional diversity conferences, including the Impact Capitalism Summit, to highlight multiple diverse fund managers. The quality and number of funds available they have showcased has been truly impressive.

What’s also evident is that the growing awareness of gender lens investing has opened the door to candid dialogue about racial equality and equity.

In the past year, gender lens investing has moved into the mainstream. It now has a seat at the table with other major issues for women, such as access to healthcare, control of reproductive rights, freedom from sexual harassment, among others. Racial equality and equity should have a seat at the table, too.

It takes work to recognize and reverse established biases, both personally and culturally. We need to be supportive as we forge ahead, but we also have to keep pushing. There hasn’t been nearly enough progress.

We are at an opportune moment to listen and to flip the conversation on its head. Low-income people, people of color, women and girls and our planet have de-risked investments to their own detriment for too long. Yes, time’s up. If change is to come, we must all work together to make sure we seize this moment.

Veris Views on Recent Market Moves

By Jane Swan, CFA, Partner

As of the close of Friday’s market, the S&P 500 was down 2.6 percent year to date, and 8.3 percent since the market high on January 26th. The S&P 500 is still up 10.7 percent in the last twelve months, and the recent decline only brings the stock market back to where it was last December, after what appears to be excessive exuberance over the tax cuts.  While this type of market decline (or correction) does not feel good to investors, it is not entirely a surprise.


If you are a reader of our IMPACT newsletter or blog, you may recall our observation of the near record length of this stock market expansion and our curiosity over the market’s confidence in the president’s economic agenda. While these factors have been noteworthy and have highlighted potential risks, the strength and growth rate of corporate earnings have provided a rational for some of the ongoing positive market returns. Events of the last two months have ended the record length of the bull market. It appears the market has joined us in questioning the economic implications of the president’s agenda.

At the time of this writing, corporate earnings and expectations of earnings growth remain strong. While many of us enjoyed stock market prices that were considerably higher, we believe the current prices are a better reflection of both the risks and opportunities of the stock market in this stage of the economic cycle. Stay tuned to our newsletter and blog for more analysis, and please contact us if you want to learn more about the Veris approach to wealth management.


If you want to subscribe to the Veris IMPACT newsletter to keep up to date with our market commentaries and perspective, please sign up at

In Our Portfolios: Every Day Can Be International Women’s Day

By Luisamaria Ruiz Carlile, CFP®, Senior Wealth Manager

Once a year, the world celebrates “International Women’s Day.”  With much fanfare, we cheer on women and their contributions to the world.

But imagine the impact of sustained daily efforts to recruit, develop and promote women.

Consider the positive outcomes of intentionally and systematically directing capital to women-led enterprises or those specifically focused on benefitting women and girls.

And what if there was gender parity in executive leadership and at every other level of business and government?

The good news is that all of this can be furthered by institutionalizing these goals in our investment portfolios through Gender Lens Investing (GLI).

The Power Of Gender Lens Investing

GLI is an increasingly popular approach to allocating capital because it is having an impact both in the U.S. and around the world.

Gender lens investors evaluate opportunities based on how they support women’s leadership, access to capital, products and services for women and girls, workplace equity, addressing urgent gender justice issues, and increasing the knowledge, confidence and number of active women investors.

A growing number of investors support GLI’s fundamental premise that investing for gender equity can generate social and economic dividends that benefit everyone – both men and women. They also understand that greater gender equity at work may drive better business results and investment performance. This heightened demand has spurred growth in investment vehicles that integrate gender criteria and metrics.

In November 2017, Patricia Farrar-Rivas, Alison Pyott and myself of Veris Wealth Partners, working closely with Suzanne Biegel and the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, each released research findings quantifying the intensifying interest in GLI:  As of mid-year 2017, some $2.2 billion was allocated in 80 gender-based investment strategies across public and private markets.

Most of these investment vehicles were developed within the past five years, targeting specific goals. They include improving the lives of women and girls, steering capital to women-led enterprises, closing the gender pay gap, and adding women to corporate boards and senior management.

While many of these are accessible only to accredited investors, there is an expanding number of solutions available to everyone.

Information on the public market products are available on the Veris website here. They include six mutual funds, one Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF), one exchange traded note and a certificate of deposit. The latter, for example, is the federally insured Women and Children’s CD offered by the Self-Help Credit Union of North Carolina. Investors holding the CD help support women starting their own businesses or buying homes, and finance loans to child care providers and public charter schools.

While investors should consider the suitability of each investment product in a personal portfolio, the point is that today a simple brokerage account of modest market value can target investment dollars to generate both financial returns and social benefits. Aggregated across hundreds of thousands of investment accounts, investors are bending billions in the service of changing how capital markets value women and girls.

In the era of Women’s Marches and the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, individuals — from teenagers to seniors — are raising their voices. Their activism is driving the growth of gender lens investing and is beginning to change how our portfolios are constructed. While we still have a long way to go in realizing gender parity, aligning our wealth with our values is essential. Through gender lens portfolios, we can make progress, and we can make our voices heard loud and clear.