The pandemic has highlighted the inequality that working women endure, but what can investors do to support gender balance in employment?
Feb. 28, 2022
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The lockdowns and school closures designed to prevent COVID-19 transmissions have taken a very heavy, and unequal, toll on women for two main reasons:
- The first is that childcare responsibilities have largely been on women’s shoulders since schools closed, even if she is working full-time. A study by the Household Pulse Survey said that in June, 2020, 12.7% of American mothers versus only 2.8% of fathers were not working due to coronavirus-related childcare issues.
- Second, women are more likely to be employed in sectors that have been most affected by the lockdown, causing more women to become unemployed or furloughed in these hard times. According to an article by the National Women’s Law Centre titled “All of the Jobs Lost in December Were Women’s Jobs“, women in the U.S. have lost 5.4 million net jobs, compared with 4.4 million jobs lost by men since the start of the pandemic.
The International Labour Organisation stated:
“Women are disproportionately employed in critically affected sectors such as service, hospitality, tourism and are also impacted by the shifting of economic activity into the domestic sphere, where they carry the majority of increasing levels of unpaid care work.”
So, as a result of COVID-19, a shocking amount of women have been forced out of the workforce. According to the National Women’s Law Center, almost 2.2 million women in the U.S. left the labor force between February and October 2020. In Japan, women have suffered three-times the economic impacts as their male counterparts according to a study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tokyo University.
This is very troubling data that will take a long time for countries to correct. However, as investors, we can help tackle gender inequality by buying stocks and indexes that support equal opportunities for women and men by investing with purpose.
What stocks support gender equality?
Fidelity Women’s Leadership Fund
The Fidelity Women’s Leadership Fund (MUTF: FWOMX) is an actively managed equity fund that “invests primarily in companies that prioritize and advance women’s leadership” — marketed as a tool for capitalists with values. Some of the funds holdings include;
- Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL),
- Facebook (NASDAQ: FB),
- J.P. Morgan (NYSE: JPM)
- Etsy (NASDAQ: ETSY), and
- Ulta Beauty (NASDAQ: ULTA).
To be included in the fund, companies have to meet one of the following requirements:
- It has at least one female member on the senior management team.
- The company is governed by a board that is one-third female.
- It has parental leave, schedule flexibility policies, along with measures to prevent a gender pay gap in order to attract, retain, and promote females.
Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) ranks very high on the list for gender equality. The company proudly sponsors Girls Who Code, National Center for Women & Information Technology, and the Society of Women Engineers and has also been named Fortune’s ‘Most Admired Company’ for 12 straight years.
Apple’s website states that for the past five years, it has continued to hire more women and underrepresented minorities every year, which they cite as a driving force behind their growth. Apple confirmed:
“We’ve achieved pay equity in every country where we operate — women earn the same as men when performing similar work.”
Furthermore, 53% of Apple’s new hires in the U.S. are from historically underrepresented groups in tech, which include women and people who identify as Black, Hispanic, Native American, or Native Hawaiian, and other Pacific Islanders.
Female-founded and women-led, Bumble (NASDAQ: BMBL) signified a big win for women entrepreneurs when it made its successful market debut last month. The CEO, Whitney Wolfe Herd, battled sexual harassment in her previous role at Tinder, which encouraged her to leave the company to set up her own dating app. Herd has helped break the glass ceiling that has prevented women from rising to the top but much more still needs to be done.
Bumble is one of only four companies to IPO over the last year which has been led by a woman. Considering the 480 companies newly listed, this means that women made up less than 1% of launches despite making up over half of the U.S. population. And it’s not because female-led companies underperform — a recent report found that women-owned startups generate twice as much per dollar invested than those owned by men. This perhaps might be due to women having fresh ideas around innovation as they are more likely to consider the needs and demands of other females. Therefore, investors would be wise to consider female-led startups as untapped potential as they bring new ideas and opportunities to the market which have previously been overlooked.
This stock is a great example of empowering equality in leadership while supporting a business model that levels the playing field for women in the dating world.
How women can start investing
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The above article is part four in MyWallSt’s Women In Investing series. Check out the other titles in the series so far.
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MyWallSt operates a full disclosure policy. MyWallSt staff currently holds long positions in companies mentioned above. Read our full disclosure policy here.