Q1 2021 Review

Gender Lens Investing Q1 2021 Review examines the first quarter 2021 performance and composition of gender lens equity funds, launches coverage of diversity & inclusion equity funds, offers an overview of gender lens fixed income vehicles and explores the dynamics shaping publicly available gender lens investing.

With a special topic: Gender Lens + ESG Investment Criteria.

Key Findings

  • Publicly traded gender lens equity funds (GLEFs) totaled US$3.28 billion in AUM as of March 31, 2021. AUM grew 21% during the first quarter, for funds covered by Parallelle Finance as of December 31, 2020.
  • There are 13 global equity funds and 16 regional equity funds available to individual investors. These are listed in the U.S., Canada, the E.U., South Korea, and Japan.
  • AUM-weighted country allocations remain dominated by the U.S. at 58%. Canada, France, the U.K., and Australia round out the top five. Financials and Information Technology are the top sectors of these equity funds.
  • Within the growing range of gender lens fixed income offerings, six gender bonds were issued during the quarter: five in developing economies, one in Canada. The framework for the first gender bond in Africa was announced during the period.
  • Gender lens fixed income AUM was US$6.45 billion as of March 31, 2021. This reflects a 39% increase from year-end. Vehicles include U.S. and emerging markets funds, private financial institution bond issues, development finance institution (DFI)-backed bonds, U.S. notes and certificates, and a lending platform.
  • We initiate coverage of a small, growing segment of Diversity & Inclusion funds, which focus on company D&I policies.
  • Gender lens investing is seen as a thematic ESG strategy. The report examines: How does gender lens investing (GLI) capture E, S, and G criteria? As strong growth in ESG investing continues, how is ESG incorporating gender lens criteria?
  • We propose a combined set of GLI + ESG investment criteria for each of the E, S, and G pillars.

Figure A: 12 Largest GLEFs by AUM (in US$ millions)

As of March 31, 2021
Sources: Fund fact sheets

Figure B: Top GLEF Performers. Along with the broader market, the group of 29 gender lens equity funds (GLEFs) generally turned in single-digit gains for the three-month period ended March 31, 2021, with several funds in the double digits. A full discussion of performance and composition of the GLEF group is included in the report.

Figure C: Gender Lens ESG. Our proposed combined gender lens E, S, and G investment criteria. A full discussion is included in the report.