WFN’s Elizabeth Barajas-Román discusses gender lens investing with Tuti Scott, author of the new guide: Moving Money for Impact.
Author Tuti Scott is the Founder of Changemaker Strategies, a former WFN board member, and once-fellow at WFN. Her latest book, ‘Moving Money for Impact: A Guide to Gender Lens Investing,’ is now available through the WFN website. For philanthropists, board members, and investors of all genders who seek to make “money moves that matter,” this guide is an introduction to gender lens investing that came about largely in response to questions and needs expressed by the WFN community.
WFN’s Elizabeth Barajas-Roman recently sat down with Tuti to find out what the guide is about and why gender-lens investing is so crucial in this current moment.
Elizabeth Barajas-Román (EBR): Tuti, what is this gender-lens investing guide all about — and why is it so crucial now, more than ever before?
Tuti Scott (TS): People are ravenous for ways to align their value and compassion with their money. There are too many people who are unaware that they can make a lasting impact by using their whole wallet and specifically by intentionally having their funds – retirement/savings/investments — used for good.
Covid has elevated gender and racial deficits and delivered a “she-session” exposing the wealth gap, the double standard of family and child care, and the public health crisis of sexual violence. One of the outcomes of our racial reckoning is people becoming more aware of the wealth inequities and systemic injustices and their own deep desire to act for justice.
We need to use the solutions and opportunities in all areas where money is being moved to apply a gender and social inclusion lens to our giving, investing, spending, consuming and savings. We need to move from the why to the how. If not now, when?
EBR: Tuti, as Founder of Changemaker Strategies, your career as a speaker, coach, and an industry leader is impressive. What are tangible actions that an individual or an organization interested in making a difference with their money can take?
TS: Where you sit based on your resources calls on you to use that power differently. But Wherever you sit, you can nominate, vote, advocate, fund, or elevate women — and especially women of color traditionally left out of the conversation. Decades of research has shown that when you change the makeup of a pale, male, and stale boardroom, practices and results of a company become healthier and stronger. We should all have ready to share the names of at least ten diverse women who should be sitting in positions of power in multiple sectors and be using our voices to amplify and encourage their leadership journey.
We have put in the guide four sections on moving to action, as well as several assessment opportunities for reflection and learning. Specifically, for those who want to talk about money, you can access GenderFair, a resource that examines gender practices of companies. You can then decide where you want to invest or purchase from based on how the company is rated on their ability to “care” for women and/or advance equity.
EBR: What do people need to understand to get in the game of money?
TS: People need to understand the continuum and places to assess risk and impact. All money moves (invest, give, save, spend) have potential for social impact and/or financial returns. What if every person thought about all of their capital having potential for increasing social impact first versus growth at any and all cost? Assessing your organization or your own appetite and where you will make tradeoffs on impact and risk should be done at least once annually. In the guide we have snapshots of portfolios that showcase products and frameworks for moving money with a gender and social inclusion lens. Anybody that has a pension or mutual funds holdings can examine their practices around gender by researching them on the As You Sow platform. What we can all do is advance women’s access, agency, and opportunity for sitting and leading in positions of power.
EBR: What advice would you give for orgs to move towards a gender balanced dialogue?
TS: Gender is just one factor in the matrix of domination, and what we really need to talk about is power. We have created a social construct where more power is assigned to particular identities (white, hetero-normative, male Christian). If we are going to start talking about gender, we have to include race and class, which have been structurally set up to have women, women of color and lower-class people not having access to where power is – board rooms, political structures, finance, etc. The true work is for an organization to confront its own role in the system of white patriarchal supremacy. Every organization needs to explore and unpack biases, norms and practices that reinforce an unbalanced system. This is the first step. This requires authentic conversations and a true commitment to creating a space for all to feel psychologically safe and a sense of belonging. We have to all be intentional about disrupting the kyriarchy, a reflection of all the identities that have been constructed to have a continuum of power and lack of power.
EBR: Where do you see the greatest potential shifts in investing with a gender lens?
TS: Women and women of color getting in community and learning cohorts (SHEeo, Invest for Better, Pipeline Angels, etc.) will continue to expand from and for these environments. Similar to the growth in philanthropy where women moved from charity to advocacy, more people are going to engage in shareholder activism to disrupt policies and practices of companies. Every philanthropic organization will have a justice and purpose committee that works in parallel with its investment committee to ensure there is values-alignment and true impact in the “holdings” (reserves, pensions, endowments) of that organization. From these elements (learning in community, shareholder activism, values and values/purpose committees), there will become an outgrowth of standardization and more gender certification opportunities that companies will seek. And rightfully, the analytics to inform certification will include race (maybe sexuality and gender identity) in their analysis on the front end as well as the back end.