Tag Archives: board of directors

Women and Money, Gender Lens Investing IV

This is the fourth Women and Money post in a series about gender lens investing.

The first post introduced the concept of investing through a screening process, referred to as a lens. The second gives an overview of socially responsible investing as an established type of lens investing. The third answers the question “Why gender lens investing?” and promises to look at the role of board of directors (also referred to as the board) and high level business executives in publicly traded companies. This, the fourth post, gives a brief overview of each of these two leadership groups. Understanding why they are important to the company is critical to understanding how gender lens investing works.

Business executives and boards of directors can be found in both privately and publicly held companies. For gender lens investing, I am referring to publicly traded companies. These companies offer securities such as stocks and bonds to the general public through an exchange. One of the most well-known U.S. exchanges is the New York Stock Exchange, but there are many more. This is a simplified definition and to learn more, just perform a quick search on the Internet for more information about publicly traded companies.

With gender lens investing, the gender of the members of board and the company’s business executives is looked at through the lens. It is a pretty simple process; just compare the number of women to the number of men serving in these top level leadership and management positions.


So you may be wondering why a blog about women and money has a graphic titled Board of Directors with all male figures. The reason is simple. Men currently hold the majority of the board positions of publicly traded companies

Board members and business executives are tasked with working together to reach common goals for the company. However, their roles for achieving this are different.

Board members in publicly traded companies are elected by shareholders. Shareholders have ownership in the business. Perhaps you have owned stock or mutual funds and received forms to vote concerning selecting a board member. Maybe you have been asked to complete a proxy so someone is authorized to vote on a proposal on your behalf. This shows how shareholders are given the opportunity to influence the board and its decisions. Board members not only oversee the management of the company, but they also serve as a connector between the company (including what is referred to below as C-level executives) and the shareholders. Board members have considerable influence over the organization. They also have significant responsibility to the shareholders.

Gender lens investing evaluates the overall relationship between the number of women and men who are members of the company’s board of directors.

C- level Executiveslensfunny


Unlike members of the board, business executives are employees of the business. The graphic above cleverly showing “C- level” and an executive meeting room may not mean much to you. However, C-level refers to the most senior and influential positions in a company. You have heard of them, CEO (Chief Executive Officer, CFO (Chief Financial Officer), CIO (Chief Information Officer), COO (Chief Operating Officer) and others. The term C-level executives is also commonly used for these important positions. C-level executives hold the highest levels of leadership and decision making authority in the company. Correspondingly, these executives are usually the most highly compensated of all the employees. Compensation may consist of not only salaries, but bonuses, stock options, etc.

As with members of boards of publicly traded companies, C-level executive positions currently are predominately held by men.

Gender lens investing also evaluates the overall relationship between the numbers of women and men who are C-level executives.

To summarize, a publicly traded company is one which offers shares of ownership to the public through an exchange. A publicly traded company has both a board of directors and business executives. Gender lens investing looks at the number of women and men holding these key positions as part of the filtering process, seeking those who meet the criteria established by the investment company, or even by an individual investor.

Coming in the next Money and Women, Gender Lens Investing post: Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund as an example of gender lens investing.

You may also read this information on scribd.com by clicking here.

(This information is designed to educate you about basic financial management concepts. Questions relevant to personal finances specific to the individual should be address to an appropriate professional to ensure that the situation has been evaluated carefully and appropriately. The Authors and Publisher specifically disclaim any liability loss, or risk which is incurred as a consequence directly or indirectly from the use and application of any contents of this work.)






Copyright2014©by Debra Hadsall

Women and Money,Gender Lens Investing, Part III


Why gender lens investing? First, it helps to know that the world of high finance and big business is still dominated by men.  Maybe you never thought about it, haven’t experienced working in the world of finance, don’t really get big corporate business models, or never made the connection to how the increase of women in business overall has not been matched by a corresponding increase of women in key positions. Also, it is not polite to call out a bunch of powerful and successful people, right? However, Sallie Krawcheck, a former Wall Street executive, said it best in an article from the Huffington Post which was written after she was fired from Bank of America. She bravely points out

“We went into the downturn with the financial services companies white, male and middle-aged,” she told the audience, “and we left with them whiter and more middle-aged.”

It is remarkable that she said it out loud. Most of us who work in the industry, or have worked there, just say it in our heads. We learned that a group of highly successful men who are deeply entrenched in doing business one way, aren’t going to simply throw up their hands, bow out, and let the diversity of the world as we know it, wash over them. It takes more than a gentle push; it requires an incentive which is delivered in the language of the marketplace, profitability which equals MONEY. Fortunately the final power in the marketplace rests with the consumer. As the consumer demands different products, better communication, change, and influence over the products and services purchased, the companies are forced to evolve. Gender lens investing represents a meaningful opportunity for women consumers to put their money behind those who are placing women in high level decision making and influential positions.  This type of investing says to consumers “out loud” how many women are in key positions in a company as compared to the number of men.

Many of the  terms used in the investment community are ones most women don’t think about on a daily basis, or really aren’t familiar with—except  through occasional mention in sound bites from the media.   The upper levels of decision making in publicly traded companies are held by those serving on the board of directors and  employed as C-level executives.  It is important to understand the roles of those who hold these positions, since gender lens investing centers around the representation of women in the decision making process.  More to come next time about boards of directors and the C-level executives.