Gender-equitable Investment in Tech (GEIT)

A project of the EQUALS Leadership Coalition

About the Project

What we do

Despite the fact that Women form over half the world’s population but have very poor participation in the investment of the world’s assets. Globally, women are more educated than men on average, but they make up less of the labor force. This disparity currently constitutes a multi-trillion dollar missed opportunity globally [1]. Of note, gender-diverse businesses have 53% higher ROE, 19% higher Innovation Revenue and 6% higher net profit [2]. Improving diversity in the tech sector represents a massive economic and financial opportunity. In the US alone, greater ethnic and gender diversity in both the staff and leadership of technology firms could create up to $570 Bn in new value – consisting of both higher returns and higher market valuations.[3] Sustainable investment, which includes both impact and ESG has surged worldwide by more than a third since 2016, reaching assets of more than $30 trillion at the start of last year. The largest sustainable investment strategy globally at the start of 2018 was negative/exclusionary screening at $19.8 trillion, followed by ESG integration ($17.5 trillion) and corporate engagement/shareholder action ($9.8 trillion), according to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance (GSIA). In comparison, according to reports by Veris Wealth partners gender lens investing only form $2.4 billion assets under management (AUM) today and while women form 30-50% of all entrepreneurial businesses, they only receive 2.2% of the associated venture funding. Women of color receive only 0.2% of the same venture funding.


Technology (STEM) is both the dominant frontier of jobs for the future and the majority of most high potential investment. These issues are of critical importance for the mission of EQUALS; this program aims to support investors (asset owners, managers and sovereign wealth funds) in reducing the investment gender gap with a tangible action roadmap and a community of practice within the framework of the WEP principles. While women form 40% STEM graduates annually, their attrition rates in the technology workforce are significantly higher at nearly 50% at every stage. As a result, in the tech sector, only 24% of the labor force and less than 3% of C-suite is composed of women [4]. Women who leave the tech workforce to become entrepreneurs, see far worse statistics. Of the $85 billion invested by venture capitalists in the US last year, women-led businesses received just $1.9 billion or 2.2% of funds invested, while mixed gender teams with at least one female founder received 12% of funds [5].


These dismal statistics apply both to the assets under management in a particular strategy and to the management of the assets. Only 2% of mutual funds, for example, are managed exclusively by female portfolio managers and there are about 3% percent of female-controlled assets in private capital.  Climate strategies often get a letter of indulgence to completely neglect gender and equity. This panel of leading assets managers and sovereign funds will discuss whether the time has come to bring gender and equity to the forefront and make it a necessary requirement in all sustainable investments irrespective of the focus area.


The GEIT Working Committee (Gender Equitable Investment in Tech) was formed to attack this problem of inadequate and gross disproportionate funding for Women in tech. GEIT uses 3 forms of intervention: influencing policy changes, awareness building and active intervention programs.


[1] Morgan Stanley, “The Trillion-Dollar Blind Spot.” December 2018.

[2] Source: The Boston Consulting Group, “The Mix that Matters”, 2017, McKinsey & Co, “Diversity Matters”, 2016

[3] Intel and Dalberg Advisors, “Decoding Diversity: the Financial and Economic Returns in Tech.” 2016.

[4] World Economic Forum, “The Future of Jobs.” 2018.

[5] Fortune Magazine and Pitchbook, “Funding for Female Founders Stalled at 2.2% of VC Dollars in 2018.” 28 January 2019.


Annual activities



The first EQUALS roundtable was held in September 2018 in collaboration with UNPRI at the annual PRI in Person meeting, and initiated the discussion with more than 20 major institutional investors. EQUALS subsequently collaborated with UN Women to lead another round-table at the World Investment Forum in October 2018. The second EQUALS roundtable was held in March 2019, in collaboration with EQUALS, UN Global Compact, and Dalberg Advisors, who hosted an interactive roundtable discussion with 30 asset owners, fund managers, UN agencies, and other interested stakeholders to discuss key topics related to gender equitable investing in the technology sector. The discussion highlighted perspectives on how to build buy-in for a gender equitable investment strategy and provided a roadmap of high potential actions that investors can take at various stages of their investment journey. The discussion followed the Chatham House rule. Over 45 representatives responded for a discussion that followed the Chatham House rules.

As a result of last year’s round-table efforts, we laid out critical internal and external best practices  that include finding the right incentives, engaging a broader set of stakeholders, changing  institutional approaches, and leading by example. The end result was crystallized in the form of the best practice roadmap for investors and the findings from all these discussions can be found off the EQUALS gender-equity in tech investment landing page. We also launched an emailer for the EQUALS gender-equity in tech investment with the premiere emailer to our partners in Q1 2019.

We believe that it is critical to continue to engage with investors to continue and broaden this dialogue, to provide continued guidance, and extend the scope.



This year, we propose extending the round-table efforts to include several additional key programs

  • Create an EQUALS gender-equity investment in tech (GEIT) draft self-assessment or evaluation standard based on the round-table findings roadmap.

  • Collaborate with UN Global Compact and UN Women develop a proposal to update the WEP questions to include the EQUALS GET standard under GEMM.

  • Continue with the investor round-table effort but use a more versatile themes using “male champions of change in investing”.

  • Convert the findings from the round-table into a guidance document completed in collaboration with partners.

  • Create an EQUALS GET survey for investors and highlight the industry benchmark.

  • Join together to form a global innovation & investment council under the aegis of various UN efforts.

  • Continue to market the efforts through the emailers and landing page. Collaborate with Research Group to put out GET/GEMM Self-Assessment Measurement Matrix Report.


In order to support this proposed expansion, we believe that it would be beneficial to assign resources and engage more EQUALS partners in the individual gender investment in tech programs.


Findings &


Relevant Research and Reports



Financial Times, Female tech entrepreneurs are given less space to fail, 10 December 2018


BVCA, Women in Private Equity, May 2018


Private Equity International, BVCA report highlights PE’s gender problem, 4 June 2018


Maria Gabriela Henderson, The case for gender diversity in private equity, 9 February 2018


Axelrod, Scott and Leitner, James, Correlation of Democracy Indicators and Markets Returns (8 December 2016). V-Dem Working Paper 2016:04


Financial Times, Private equity in Africa can drive gender equality, 7 March 2017


Diversity Today, Firmex, Private equity lags on gender diversity, 7 July 2014




The Boston Consulting Group, The Mix That Matters: Innovation Through Diversity, February 2017


The Boston Consulting Group, Why Women-Owned Startups are a Better Bet, June 2018


Vivian Hunt, Dennis Layton, Sara Prince, Why Diversity Matters, McKinsey & Company, January 2015


Gompers, Paul A. and Mukharlyamov, Vladimir and Weisburst, Emily and Xuan, Yuhai, Gender Effects in Venture Capital, 4 June 2014


Rose-Smith, Auerswald & Swamy, Relating Sexually Predatory, Discriminatory Behavior to Private Capital Performance, 23 September 2018





Ewens, Michael and Townsend, Richard, Are Early Stage Investors Biased Against Women?, 17 April 2017


Mitchell, Lesa, Overcoming the Gender Gap: Women Entrepreneurs as Economic Drivers, 1 September 2011

Aggarwal, Rajesh K. and Boyson, Nicole M., The Performance of Female Hedge Fund Managers (29 August 2015). Review of Financial Economics, Forthcoming; Northeastern U. D’Amore-McKim School of Business Research Paper No. 2726584

Bloomberg, Private Equity Has an Incentive to Prioritize Women, 8 March 2018

Forbes, Private Equity Has Something To Add To The Diversity Discussion. Yes, Really, 20 November 2017

Medium, Private Equity And Gender Diversity, 8 November 2017





Herb Engert, How private equity leaders can tackle gender inequality, 29 March 2018

Lisette Cooper, Jeff Finkelman, Kate Huntington, Investing in Gender Equality, January 2018


Ghosh, Chinmoy and Petrova, Milena T. and Sun, Jerry and Xiao, Yihong, Increasing Gender Diversity in Corporate Boards: Are Firms Catering to Investor Preferences?, October 2016


Economist, Investment by women, and in them, is growing, 8 March 2018

Firmex, The Path to Gender Parity in M&A and Private Capital, 6 March 2018

Quartz, More investment firms are letting clients put their money where their mouth is on gender equality, 13 February 2018





CalSTRS, Investment Policy for Mitigating Environmental, Social and Governance Risks (ESG)

CalSTRS, Letter to the SEC on Dec. 4, 2017 on Sexual Harassment and Misconduct


CalSTRS, Diversity in the Management of Investments, February 2018


CalSTRS, Corporate Governance Principles, November 2017


CalSTRS, The Value of CalSTRS Engagements, August 2018

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