Hi everyone, I hope you’re having a lovely summer. As I’m sure you’re all aware, the #MeToo movement has taken the world by storm in 2018, so I wanted to take this opportunity to discuss the impact of this in the financial sector. I’m going to briefly discuss the direct effect of #MeToo in the industry, before focusing on the long term opportunities that the movement has brought about in the financial sectors.
The #MeToo movement focuses on bringing to light sexual misconduct and harassment towards women, particularly in the workplace. Whilst coverage of the movement has been dominated by the media and entertainment sectors, it is undeniable that the impact has been both global and wide reaching. With fewer than half of S&P companies having 25% or less women on their boards, it is undeniable that women are underrepresented in the financial sector. Wall Street is certainly not exempt from misconduct towards women and this has been revealed through the persecution of Francis Lively and the Financial Times investigation into The Presidents Club. A significant analysis of the impact of the #MeToo movement on finance is that there are now amplified consequences – both financial and personal. In scenarios where misconduct towards women may not have received rightful attention, the #MeToo movement has helped raise this issue to the frontline. Wafra’s Lively being persecuted after six years of wrongdoings towards a single employee is just one example showing that women feel freer to speak up than they did before the movement took off in November 2017.
Reiterating the power of this movement is increased investment in companies supporting women. Gender-lens funds first came into existence in the early 1990s, and 22 were in existence by 2017. Since last year, at least 12 more have emerged. The #MeToo movement has helped bring gender issues to the forefront of everyone’s minds, and this has begun to reshape where money is invested in the financial sector. More gender-lens funds have emerged because companies supporting gender equality have continued to outperform, raising the momentum to invest in them. Thus, this movement has not only amplified the importance of speaking up about misconduct in the financial sector, but it has also shined a light on the productivity of firms supporting women, redefining investors’ decisions.