May 15, 2022 • 1M

The gender lens scorecard: what is it and how can investors apply it? And listen to our podcast with Marypat Smucker talk about the gender lens scorecard

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Jana Hlistova
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Welcome to our #115 weekly newsletter.

“For women taking control of their financial future”

-Jana Hlistova

From The Purse

In this week’s newsletter, we focus on gender lens investing and the gender lens scorecard, a tool for appraising investment funds and portfolios.

We interviewed Marypat Smucker, who is Co-Founder and Principal at Parallelle Finance, a gender lens investment research firm founded in 2019. And we share highlights from The Purse Podcast interview.

There are many data points around the persistent gender gaps in companies, sectors and in the global economy as a whole.

At the same time, research has demonstrated the many benefits associated with higher levels of gender diversity in corporate leadership.

Investors committed to sustainable investing should be seeking to capture the performance and other benefits of the gender lens approach.


And you can review the news in brief so you stay on top of global financial, economic and investing trends.

I hope you enjoy this week’s newsletter.

Until next week,


Gender lens investing: the gender lens scorecard

Parallelle Finance have launched the gender lens scorecard-a tool for appraising investment funds and portfolios.

Key market data points:

  • AUM in gender lens equity funds grew 51% in 2021 to $4bn.

  • AUM in gender lens fixed income grew 75% in 2021 to 8.5bn.

There are 27 gender lens equity funds in the Parallelle Finance coverage universe. These are characterised by investment criteria around women-in-leadership and related corporate gender equality metrics.


We interviewed Marypat Smucker, Co-founder and Principal of Parallelle Finance about gender lens investing and the Parallelle Finance Gender Lens Scorecard.

Here are key highlights from the interview on The Purse Podcast:

Why do we need to apply a gender lens to investing?

The global gender gap is a key imbalance affecting all economies.

There are many data points around the persistent gender gaps in companies, sectors and in the global economy as a whole.

The World Economic Forum’s latest estimated time frame for closing the biggest gender gaps at the current pace of progress is still over 100 years.

At the same time, research has demonstrated many benefits associated with higher levels of gender diversity in corporate leadership.

These benefits include:

  • superior performance

  • better operational metrics

  • improved risk and fraud management

  • improve decision-making (and many other areas).

In fact, a recent MSCI report found that gender diverse companies had better records on reducing carbon emissions.

Corporate gender equality is an important element to closing those deep gender gaps in the global economy.

Investors committed to sustainable investing should be seeking to capture the performance and other benefits of the gender lens approach.

To date the available data on diversity in corporate leadership has been gender data, and now the research is starting to make a very welcome push around data on gender plus racial, ethnic, and all diversity metrics for a range of corporate measures.

Brief market overview: why is this a growth area?

There are several dynamics driving continued long-term growth.

The first of these is that gender lens is a thematic ESG strategy. And ESG has been seeing very strong AUM. This is a growth driver for gender lens as a thematic strategy.

There is also growing investor awareness of the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in public companies. There are growing demands around this which is seen in an increasing number of shareholder proposals on diversity and equality issues.

Also, there is a unique growth and long term performance opportunity for gender lens funds.

But despite the proven benefits of gender diverse leadership, we all know that growth in these metrics has been painfully slow.

For example, Deloitte recently estimated that it will take until 2045 to achieve global board gender parity. And this is the area of corporate equality which has actually seen the best growth over the last 10 years.

C-suite female representation is lagging far behind still, and this is why gender pay gaps persist in most countries and most sectors.

Many gender lens funds were launched within the last five years when women in corporate leadership numbers were even lower than they are today.

However, with increased pressure and attention driving progress, gender lens funds are uniquely well positioned to capture for investors the benefits of growth in diverse leadership, diverse workforce and growth in pay parity.

All of these metrics still have a long way to go. But we are seeing steady launches of new gender lens funds, and we believe that this real growth opportunity is represented by the corporate gender gaps that remain, and that are being increasingly spotlighted and addressed.

The gender lens scorecard: what is it and why introduce this in the market?

It is important to note that all of these funds are investing with a gender lens.

We define gender lens equity funds as those with stated investment criteria around investing in companies with strength in gender metrics.

All of the funds in the gender lens universe have investment criteria around women in leadership. And most also have additional criteria around other metrics, including workforce equality, pay equity, and also work for spend effects and policies. So with the scorecard.

The aim to help investment advisors place their clients in gender lens funds, and to assist advisors and investors to evaluate and understand these funds.

They are all investing with a gender lens and we believe it is time for a deeper evaluation of this suite of funds.

So if an investor goes to her advisor, for example, and asks about gender lens vehicles, we want to be the resource for finding the investment vehicle that fits her portfolio.

And we especially want investors of all sizes to be able to invest with a gender lens.

The tool applies five grade levels to four categories, each comprised of scores from sub-categories and indicators.

Taken together, the categories assess both the fund and the asset management firm on gender equality in investment criteria, holdings, portfolio management team, and firm-wide leadership, as well as the fund's performance and overall ESG approach.

The catgeories are as follows:

Category 1: Fund gender metrics

  • Gender lens investment criteria

  • Women in leadership and workforce metrics of holdings

  • Representation of women on portfolio management team

Category 2: Firm gender metrics

  • Women in leadership metrics

  • Firm public commitments to equality

  • Advocacy for gender equality and diversity

Category 3: Fund performance

  • Internal rating of fund performance vs. gender lens indexes and broad market indexes

  • Third-party ratings of fund risk-adjusted performance

Category 4: Fund ESG

  • Aggregation of leading ESG scores

Can you apply this tool to VC firms & VC funds?

Yes-the tool can be applied to private equity and VC firms and their portfolio.

Because of our detailed approach to a range of indicators and metrics and a combination of quantitative and qualitative measures for our categories and subcategories, the tool can be modified to score the gender lens intentionality (or not) and results (or not) of portfolio companies of a VC or private equity firm.

There are persistent gender gaps in VC and private equity, investment teams and deep gaps where these teams are directing their investment capital.

So this is definitely an area where firms could receive a score from us if they want to demonstrate their strength in this area.

What do you hope to achieve with the gender lens scorecard?

We hope to promote more capital being directed into gender lens vehicles from investors of all sizes, through all of our work. And we hope to promote and support more capital into gender lens investing.

Our overall goal with the tool is really to provide investors with comprehensive data to understand gender lens portfolios.

And we will also move into helping people understand other portfolios through a gender lens.

We very much hope to serve the investment advisor community and the tool will be available for providers of all types of gender lens portfolios.

What next? (Re) Listen to:


News in Brief

Financial news

Crypto: bitcoin, ethereum, DeFi & NFTs

The Purse Podcast

We cover the following in our conversation:

  • gender lens investing

  • the gender len scorecard: what is it?

  • how investors might use this tool, including VCs

  • and more

Please enjoy! Listen on Apple Podcasts and Spotify+

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We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with Jana via the The Purse website or tweet @jointhepurse and @janicka.

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