ESG momentum is slowing for many investors, but not for women


Lisa Langley: Women are actively seeking progressive investment opportunities that can contribute to socioeconomic prosperity

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Women are innately the S and the G when it comes to environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing.

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A bold statement indeed, though, factually, women are shaping the future of investing by leading the charge in prioritizing ESG factors when making investment decisions. Certainly, women are nearly twice as likely as men to consider ESG factors.

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Here’s why: As women, we are uniquely attuned to the impact these factors have on our daily lives and understand the power of investing in areas that have a measurable effect.

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A growing number of women don’t only care about generating quick and meaningless wealth, but carefully consider the socioeconomic implications of every investment decision they make.

Indeed, a new wave of Canadian women is breaking free from financial dependence, particularly among millennials, as they earn higher incomes and maintain control of their finances even after marriage. They actively seek progressive investment opportunities that can contribute to socioeconomic prosperity.

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With our growing power to invest, we scour the market for businesses that align with our values and are fearless in putting our money where our mouths are by investing in companies that regard environmental sustainability, social justice and good governance.

To create a more equitable world, protect human rights and combat the effects of climate change, we know it’s essential to shift our focus toward sustainable investing. Women crave purposeful investment opportunities, especially as we have experienced injustice firsthand. We must prioritize sustainable investing to ensure long-term value in our investments.

Women hold the key to the S and G in ESG because of our innate ability to see the bigger picture and obtain diverse perspectives. We know that social impact is vital, since it ensures companies meet the needs of all genders, and governance ensures that companies will operate on policies based on fairness and diversity.

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As mothers, daughters, sisters and community members, we want to make investment decisions that benefit those we care about and the planet we share. We understand that the greater purpose behind ESG investing is that we’re investing in a brighter future, where purpose and profit are intertwined, and socioeconomic prosperity is the norm.

ESG investing is most commonly seen as a way to ensure our planet’s survival, but it has an even more profound significance for women. As the primary caretakers of our families, we’re acutely aware of how climate change disproportionately impacts our daily lives since women and children are 14 times more likely to die from a climate disaster than men, and an estimated 80 per cent of women get displaced by climate change.

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Socially, women often bear the brunt of economic downturns. It’s a cruel reality that we are usually the last to get hired and the first to get fired. Even if we possess the same qualifications and skill sets as men, we are 30 per cent less likely to be considered for jobs, according to Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, and the odds are stacked even higher against mothers at a staggering 36 per cent.

As for governance, women understand that pervasive gender disparities have long plagued various aspects of our lives. By investing sustainably, women can invest in companies that promote inclusive and equitable practices and further advocate for women-owned and -led businesses.

Studies have shown that 52 per cent of women are more likely to invest in businesses with a positive social or environmental impact compared to only 44 per cent of men. Women are increasingly looking to reshape the distribution of wealth and enact meaningful change over profits.

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This doesn’t mean that women will sacrifice performance. Companies can no longer ignore ESG factors as the world faces unprecedented challenges. Turning a blind eye to these issues is irresponsible as well as a detriment in the long term. Incorporating an ESG framework provides a comprehensive view of a company’s mission, principles and practices and enforces risk and reputation management.

As more women take on leadership roles, gain wealth and demand more from our investments, we can continue the momentum of ESG investing, drive positive change and transform systems so the world can benefit us and future generations.

Lisa Langley is the chief executive and founder of Emerge Canada Inc.


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