It should come as no surprise to regular listeners of ImpactAlpha’s Returns on Investment podcasts that Imogen Rose-Smith doesn’t think much of the slew of research studies and white papers released each year in time for International Women’s Day every year. “Lazy,” “simplistic” and “bullshit” are a few of her more mild reactions.
“To think that women have magic fairy dust that is magically going to make business better, is stupid,” Imogen, an investment fellow with the University of California, says in the latest episode of the podcast.
For what it’s worth, ImpactAlpha has rounded up many of the recent reports and white papers that crossed our desks this week. (Imogen didn’t mean you! We think…)
Earlier in the week, we reported on the “Better Leadership, Better World” report from the Business and Sustainable Development Commission, which posits that women’s leadership is key to realizing the $12 trillion “economic prize” in delivering on the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty, boost social well-being and fight climate change. The report cites a half-dozen key leadership traits that happen to correspond to the core competencies of women in business.
“There are all kinds of ways in which a gender lens gives you an investment advantage,” I say in the roundtable discussion. But what happens if such investment advantages don’t prove out, or if the context is more complex than it first appears? “There’s a pushback on this investment-advantage argument,” I observe. “Should we just have gender inclusion and racial inclusion because it’s a good investment, or because it’s the right thing to do?”
More broadly, how strong is the performance impact investment managers and funds in walking their own talk when it comes to promoting women to investment decision-making? Imogen mixes it up as well with podcast host Brian Walsh, head of impact for the fintech firm Liquidnet, who suggests that the dearth of women in private equity and venture capital is a talent “pipeline” question caused by the implicit bias and “pattern-matching” of mostly male partners.
“If you were to say to a woman that there aren’t enough talented women out there to do this special thing we call ‘private equity,’ they would say that is clearly bullshit,” Imogen says. “That is the excuse that every single private equity manager gives, that there is not enough talent. It’s not a talent problem.” (They eventually reached a point of agreement.)
The key question, Imogen suggests, is “How do we achieve system-change to ensure there diversity throughout the system that is going to result in better and more diverse people in position of authority?”
small businesses with homogeneous cultuers can do well…..
there is a tipping point where that starts to change and it’s no longer the case.
intellectually really dangerous — what happens when that’s no longer the case.
study that show women underperform at venture capitalist….
“As a leader, you have a responsibility to promote inclusion…..the question is, what does that mean, what does it look like, and how much inclusion do you need to be effective?”
BRIAN Pattern matching — people look to hire people like themselves….there are all sorts of signals people send off about their identity who they want to be around, and one of those signals is gender….impact investing needs to be aware of these issues.
Imogen — impact focus less on white papers about women are inherently whatever, and more on how do we achieve system change to ensure there diversity throughout the system which is going to result in better and more diverse people in psoition of authority….
Should impact support legislation that seeks to encourage diversity or publish instances of harassment at asset-management ….
David — “it’s not inclusion in a box-checking way. it’s that’s where the opportunities are”
TPG, blackrock — doing enough to have women in investment, decision roles, senior?
pipeline — “If you were to say to a woman that there aren’t enough talented women out there to do this special thing we call private equity, is clearly bullshit. That is the excuse that every single private equity mgr gitves, that there is not enough talent. It’s not a talent problem.