Gender Lens Investing
WHAT IS GENDER LENS INVESTING?
Gender Lens Investing (GLI) is the intentional act of making investment decisions and adopting processes and policies because it will have a positive effect on women, girls, or gender equity.
THERE IS NO SINGLE DEFINITION FOR GENDER LENS INVESTING
A GLI definition and investment thesis should include things easy to identify (i.e. the number of women in management) while also ensuring a long-term benefit to ensure that the inclusion of women or gender equity doesn’t become token representation without changing the fundamental influence and decision making authority of women and men.
WHAT DOES GENDER LENS INVESTING MEAN FOR BIDUK?
We have consciously addressed much of the unconscious bias in the investment process.
1. Using financial instruments that are accessible to and useful for all types of entrepreneurs. Many lenders require collateral. In many cases, women do not have collateral in their name to pledge. By using unsecured lending products, we've removed that as a barrier for women to be able to access our products.
2. Challenging conventional systemic bias. It is customary in many markets, including Indonesia, to require spousal consent when entering into a loan agreement. Although a tradition, it is not legally required. We have removed this language from our loan agreements.
Identifying and neutralizing gender bias in the investment process is key to GLI. This includes removing outright discrimination and also addressing conscious and unconscious bias. Often, identifying bias or discrimination is the easy part; the real work is in developing processes and policies that offer a gender equitable alternative. The investment lifecycle is bookended by two critical, but often overlooked areas of the investment lifecycle for GLI: network and portfolio monitoring. On the front-end, the network is a critical component to effective GLI—since it is the first part of the funnel for the investment process, if women aren’t equitably represented in this phase, then they will be similarly under or un-represented throughout the entire process. On the back-end, without effective monitoring of the portfolio performance with and without GLI (with whatever definition and impact thesis adopted by an organization), it’s impossible to go beyond counting women and move towards valuing women and gender equity both quantifiably in the portfolio performance, but also the qualitative benefits and repercussions of changing cultural norms, empowerment and social benefits.
THE INVESTMENT PROCESS
Although it’s easy to assume that GLI is only about women and girls, fundamental to the approach is the word “gender”. The aim of GLI is to bring about gender equity, based on cultural and social norms about the roles of women (and girls) and men (and boys), and the value associated with those roles. In many cases, women and girls are excluded from or under-represented in certain roles or have social expectations because of gender; GLI aims to acknowledge and rectify this inequity to ensure that all roles and genders are accepted, encouraged and valued equally.