Since the early days of the business, Skating Panda has always strove to play its part in the journey towards gender-equality. The team is hugely passionate about women’s issues and female empowerment and this is reflected in the dedication, enthusiasm and expertise we have given to various projects in the space over the years.
In 2015, after having developed a communications strategy, set policy goals and ambitions and advised on strategic direction, Skating Panda helped launch a new political party, the Women’s Equality Party. Consequently, through its secondment model, Skating Panda embedded team members within Girl Effect to help shape and implement campaigns aimed at empowering girls to lift their countries out of poverty. Throughout this time, Skating Panda has worked with Shine for Women, which exists to see more women reach the top and more organisations thriving as a result.
And the latest stop on this journey: Skating Panda had the privilege of helping to launch the first ever Gender-Smart Investing Summit, which was held in London on November 1st and 2nd. The pandas have been busy over the last six months, working behind the scenes with the Summit co-founders Suzanne Biegel and Darian Rodriguez to help build momentum and set the scene for this historical first – an event that marked a real tipping point in the fight for gender equality.
But what is gender-smart investing?
Gender-smart investing is a type of sustainable and impact investing, which means incorporating gender considerations into financial analysis to achieve better financial and social outcomes, across all asset classes. Social benefits include increasing access to capital and helping route more investment to women-led businesses, spurring the development of products and services that empower women and girls, or supporting businesses and entire sectors whose value chains benefit women.
Latest figures that scan private equity, venture, and debt funds in the second “Project Sage” report revealed at the Summit that the total capital raised has cleared $2.2bn, up 73% from $1.3bn in 2017. But there is still so much more to do. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great success in itself and the movement is already making a hugely positive impact on advancing gender equality globally, something that should be celebrated every day. But what the discussions last week demonstrated, is that there is still so much more capital that can be mobilised across asset classes and, most importantly, that there is so much appetite to do so amongst those that can drive real and lasting change. And it couldn’t be more exciting time to be involved.
The Summit saw 300 men and women from 43 different countries come together for the first time in a collective and interactive exercise to catapult the movement of capital to the next level globally. If, on the one hand, access to financial vehicles and platforms with a gender lens has to be made easier and open to more investors, on the other hand businesses need to be educated on why it is in both their interest and benefit to promote gender equality in their own business.
The sessions were inspiring, thought-provoking and productive in all respects, so much so that before the closing of the Summit delegates signed five commitments to use their investments, and those of their clients or businesses, to close the economic gender gap and achieve better sustainable investment outcomes.
As men and women, investors and investees, in public and private sectors, across the racial and ethnic spectrum, delegates agreed to facilitate the necessary and strategic movement of capital towards gender equity. Here are their commitments:
- I will make conscious investment decisions recognizing the benefit of female representation from a societal, sustainability and an investor imperative.
- I will be mindful of my and other’s biases and strive to eliminate them.
- I will seek opportunities to include gender equity wherever reasonable and provide support for those that already demonstrate gender equity.
- I will be an advocate and raise awareness about the benefits of gender-smart investing.
- I will be transparent and make available any relevant data for gender-smart investing as appropriate.
What a time to live in…what a time to become gender-smarter!
Camilla Beretta, Researcher and Coordinator at Skating Panda