Why & how we invest

When we encounter systems that have never worked for the world’s women, girls, and trans people: We move.

Nowhere is that more true than in our financial ecosystem: an intricate network of investment activity that includes capital, consumers, products, services, policies, and ideas. This ecosystem—which has historically served a small and powerful group—is deeply outdated.

Guided by an unapologetic feminist analysis, our Investment program seeks to shift the financial ecosystem so that it better serves both people and the planet. It will support change by helping to finance our grantmaking and drive change by influencing the financial ecosystem, simultaneously.

Over time, the returns generated by our investments will finance our expanded grantmaking, demonstrating the unique power of the Equality Fund model to deliver sustainable and scalable funding for women’s movements for as long as it takes to build the world we need.

Our Goals

ACTIVATE: Mobilize $255 million CAD across various investment sources for feminist organizing and gender equality over the next 15 years.

DISRUPT: Shift power and resources to women-led and women-focused funds, products, businesses, and services (inclusive of girl-led and trans-led actors).

SUSTAIN: Ensure that the returns from our investment strategy continue to support our catalytic grantmaking in support of feminist movements globally.

Feminist voices at the centre

Accountability to feminist movements is key. We created an Investment Advisory Council, a diverse body of investors, feminist activists, economists, and women’s right advocates who will come together to ensure that the perspectives and hard-earned wisdom of their work is incorporated across our investment activities.

The Council provides advice to our Investment team and the Equality Fund’s Investment Committee on our approach to gender-lens investing.

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Gender-lens investing

Unlocking capital to unleash power

Unlike many foundations that conduct impact-driven programming on the one hand and invest exclusively for returns on the other, we’re moving further.

Our investment portfolio is 100 percent gender-aligned, which means that we won’t invest a single dollar without ensuring that we understand how we’re affecting women, girls, and trans people.

What is gender-lens investing?

Gender-lens investing (GLI) refers to investing (for financial and social impact) with the intent to address gender issues or promote gender equity. In practice, it means taking into consideration the participation, needs, realities, and leadership of all genders, across all aspects of investment decision-making.

The total value of public equity and fixed income GLI funds accelerated to over $12 billion USD as of June 2021. That’s up from $2.4 billion USD in a 2018 report. And the growth of gender-lens strategies in the public markets is evidenced by more than 200 GLI offerings raising a combined $6 billion USD in 2021. That’s a market opportunity of over $18 billion USD.

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Public & Private Markets

Our public market investments provide liquidity to help fuel our grantmaking. We utilize robust gender-lens investing criteria and frameworks for investment selection and impact monitoring. The criteria we used to guide our portfolio construction includes: Equileap, MSCI, Impax, WEF, World Bank, IRIS+, Grand Challenges Canada, the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and Thomson Reuters Refinitiv.

With this work, we are helping to fill product gaps across the ecosystem by building new gender-lens investing products, such as:

  • The Equality Fund RockCreek Fixed Income Strategy, managed by RockCreek Group L.P., which utilizes Equileap data.
  • Equality Fund Global Gender Equality Delta Note and Equality Fund Fixed Yield Note issuance in partnership with RBC Capital Markets, tracking the Solactive Equileap Global Gender Equality 100 Index.

Our private market investments help to maximize our goals of shifting power by investing in women-led and women-focused funds, products, businesses, and services (inclusive of girl-led and trans-led actors).

We are helping to fill product gaps across the ecosystem by building new GLI products, such as:

  • The Equality Fund Private Debt Fund, managed by Turning Rock Partner LP, which utilizes a custom impact framework.
  • A bespoke Private Equity product (TBC)

We utilize the Equality Fund’s GLI Criteria, a bespoke framework that builds off our Theory of Change to ensure that our investment decisions actually improve the lives of our target beneficiaries. In practice, our OCIO uses this framework to screen all qualifying investments for inclusion in our private markets allocation. Once the GLI Criteria are finalized, we are excited to share them publicly to empower others on their own gender-lens investment journey.

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