What enables us to see gender and therefore to value gender in finance?
Within Criterion’s network, built over the last decade of working both in sustainable finance and in the women’s movement, we connect both with individuals and institutions that have the data, knowledge and analytical tools to understand gendered systems in the world and with experts who are working within and rethinking the systems of finance. We tap this network and set the table so that we can explore together, forage for unexamined value or unexpected synergies.
Whether we are building educational tools or conducting research projects, we are focused on the intersection of gender and finance in a particular context. For example, we might explore women’s ownership patterns as a risk in debt instruments supporting agriculture in East Africa. Specificity is important as we are looking at the intersection of three values systems.
In the specific context we look for where value misunderstood, value that is
- not seen,
- seen but overvalued,
- seen but undervalued, or
- is in flux as a result of shifting gender norms
From there we build work to specifically connect the gender analytics to the systems of finance. We explore the purpose or function of the investment; the product design, incentives and regulatory environment; and the specific process of analysis and decision-making that go into making the investment.
The methodology looks for correlations more than causation. Overall, in finance, one does not have the burden of proof to say that women’s leadership caused the increased financial stability, but rather that the presence of women’s leadership correlates to financial performance.
This, in the end, is more than a methodology for analysis; it is cultural work enabling a cultural shift. Gender lens investing promotes the idea that gender matters in finance. Women are an opportunity not a limitation or a screen. (re)Value enables more rigorous analysis and understanding of our how the often unconscious ways in which we devalue women, actually leads to less effective financial design.
When we first began the (re)Value work, we imagined the outcome in the vein of an art exhibit. We didn’t want the work to be a set of reports that can be filed, but a cultural experience that changes how we value women and girls. We want to shift how we understand the power of gender in the world and unleash all that becomes possible if we change what matters in financial decisions.
We want individuals and institutions to use (re)Value to further their own work, now. We welcome that participation; in fact, it is the only way that this will work, by engaging a diverse array of settings and building a broader table.