By Catherine Poulton, UNICEF, and Tia Subramanian, Criterion Institute 

 

Criterion Institute and UNICEF have partnered to create a due diligence tool for investors to identify and mitigate the investment risks gender-based violence poses. It is well documented that rates of gender-based violence (GBV) have risen around the world as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we wrote in a blog post in early April, equally important to providing and maintaining frontline GBV services is mobilizing economic and financial systems to act in recovery and rebuild investments. Our new tool demonstrates that gender-based violence is a hidden risk to investments equips investors to take action accordingly.

Gender-based violence is not just a social issue; its significant impacts on the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities translate into economic costs for companies, sectors, and markets. More than 1 in 3 women and girls worldwide experience gender-based violence over the course of their lives. In the language of finance, these numbers are material. Moreover, violence is increasing as a result of the pandemic: spikes in calls to domestic violence have been recorded in many countries, as have reports of increased domestic violence killings and fears of greater and more intense cases of child abuse

This due diligence tool that equips investors to understand the risks their investments are exposed to as a result of gender-based violence, as well as to identify ways to mitigate those risks. Due diligence is a standard process that all investors undertake when deciding whether and how to invest in a company. Our tool is designed to align with existing, standard diligence processes so that investors can easily incorporate these questions and mitigation strategies into their current work. This tool is primarily geared at direct investments and suggests ways that private investors can use the multiple tools at their disposal to mitigate the risks of violence. Sections of the tool are also relevant to public investors, particularly the analyses of risk at the sector and market levels.

GBV both inside and outside the workplace is presented as a risk to companies, industries, and countries. We also highlight ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted certain sectors, highlight post-disaster patterns of capital movement where gender-based violence might be particularly relevant, and, crucially, provide guidance for how investors can analyze these complex issues without causing unintentional harm.

Considering the growing global attention to gender-based violence and the growing instances of companies facing consequences for employees that engage in sexual harassment and violence, this tool supports investment strategies optimized for a rapidly changing and reimagined future. 

Criterion Institute, 501(c)(3) 81 Church Hill Rd · Haddam, CT 06438 860-345-3520 (main) · info@criterioninstitute.org ©2020, all rights reserved.

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