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Financial Feminism: Here's how we can empower women to use their wealth to build a better world



Do you ever wake up with an overwhelming feeling that you are not doing enough? Do you ever fear that you are part of the actual problem? You are not alone.

We are watching the Amazon rainforest burn, millions of people struggle to survive because they are living in absolute poverty, children unable to get basic healthcare or go to school. Yet here I find myself, living a life of privilege, consuming what I want, taking more than I give. It’s not sitting comfortably, not comfortably at all. So what if you could use your money as a lever for change?

Investing is defined as allocating money (or capital) to some kind of endeavour (whether it’s a company, a project or something else) with the hope of some future benefit. We have been told that the only future benefit worth chasing is money.

But what if we, as compassionate and caring humans, want to aim for something bigger? And what if ‘future benefit’ actually means something quite beyond bigger financial returns, beyond money? What if ‘future benefit’ reflected our desire to move towards a world that is cleaner? Fairer? More equitable? Dare I say it, happier? That’s how I got involved in sustainable finance and responsible investment.

Money as a force for good

To me, money should be a force for good. That means we should be deploying capital to invest in activities that bring real, constructive benefits to the majority of people, across the world. At the same time, we should not be investing in companies or sectors that bring harm to people. Yes, for sure, there are a whole heap of issues and challenges related to how we measure benefits or identify what we mean by harm. But at no point do those issues and challenges mean we shouldn’t be trying.

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Sustainable investing presents a lens through which we can look at our world and the personal and societal goals we set. When we choose to invest, when we select an equity or a fund, we are making a choice of one thing over another. We are exposing our preference in the same way we do as consumers, when we choose to buy one product over another. We are not just talking about the role of money. We are talking about the role of companies and sectors, and actively making decisions on the ones we want to be winners.

This is a big deal because if we accept that we have an ability to make informed investment decisions – and we are seeking something beyond just making more money – it inevitably forces us to question the purpose of companies and the role that they play in society. It’s also really empowering to see the different levers of change we have at our disposal.

Financial Feminism


I, for one, am tired of the way things are and being told women cannot have an impact. The rules of the game can change but it’s highly likely that it is we women who will have to change them ourselves.
I genuinely believe that sustainable investing presents an opportunity for women like you and me to start influencing other aspects of our collective lives. We can educate and empower ourselves to make a difference with our money.

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The problem is there’s not a lot of guidance out there for people who just want to get started on their sustainable investing journey. The financial industry doesn’t pay a great deal of attention to anyone who doesn’t have big bucks to invest. And that’s just plain wrong. The industry also does a fantastic job at putting people off, through ridiculous jargon and nonsensical terminology. Many women feel excluded from the financial industry, whether that is because of confidence, overuse of jargon that puts us off or simply the way the industry interacts with women. The feminist voice in me is shouting out that this has to change.

There’s another important trend too – we have a pile of data telling us that many women are impassioned and inspired by issues of sustainability and that this extends to their financial decisions.

The Gender Investing Gap

Women are not investing to the same extent as men, saving less for retirement and parking more in cash. And this results in a significant financial shortfall in the longer term. Of course, the gender pay gap compounds this shortfall, but it also means that women are missing out on making the money they do have work better for them. The result is that women have less wealth and are expecting to retire on much less than men.
Keeping your wealth in cash may make you feel more secure; of course I understand that, particularly during these turbulent and challenging times. However, if you don’t start actively investing your wealth, you may well be missing out on potential financial returns.

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At the same time, you are also missing out on the opportunity to do something positive and constructive with it in terms of societal or environmental impact. If you actively invest you can choose to invest in sectors that you really want to see grow – such as clean energy or sustainable consumer brands – or proactively put your money into companies with strong records on environmental and social issues. The world is your oyster.

So how do you get started?


Sustainable investing is growing – which means that it is becoming easier for us. First of all, prioritize what you care about. Ask yourself – what kind of issues are important to me? Then translate your priorities into sustainable investment beliefs. These are the guiding principles that spell out who you are and what you want to achieve with your investments.

Next, do some goal setting. What do you want your investments to accomplish? The more specific you are, the easier it will be to identify how and where you want to invest. There is a wealth of information and analysis out there so use it to your advantage. Being a sustainable investor is about making well-informed, well-considered decisions.

Jessica Robinson is the author of Financial Feminism: A Woman’s Guide to Investing for a Sustainable Future – find out more here.



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