The concept of “impact investing” is increasingly popular — with 85 percent of millennials indicating their preference to invest in companies that align with their personal values.
Juliet Choi, YWCA USA
Board Member, joins host Sheila Hyland to discuss how her organization is partnering with investors to champion the women's empowerment movement.
Hyland: In the world of finance, a concept known as impact investing, or socially-responsible investing, is growing quickly. In basic terms, people want to invest in companies that align with their personal values and do their part to create a society that is positive and sustainable. Major non-profit organizations have noticed this trend and are now benefiting from it. Hello, and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I´m Sheila Hyland. Investors are realizing the impact their money can have on social-advocacy groups. Juliet Choi, a board member from the YWCA USA, is joining me to explain. Juliet, thanks for being our guest.
Choi: Thank you, Sheila.
Hyland: The YWCA has a long history -- long and storied history. Tell us about the history and also its mission, and how that has evolved over the years.
Choi: Thank you so much. Well, we are so proud. We´ve enjoyed our 160th anniversary providing services, advocating, giving voice to women and girls across the country. Our direct services include taking care of women and families through our after-school child-care programs, women entrepreneurship initiatives, leadership development, civic engagement. Our mission statement is simple and very, very mighty and bold. We sit at the intersectionality of race and gender, so, stated simply, our mission is, number one, to eliminate racism and empower women. We truly believe, in order to empower women and children, we do need to address that intersectionality.
Hyland: And so, you´re still working on and addressing those issues. What are your major priorities for this coming year in 2019?
Choi: Oh, I really appreciate that question. We firmly believe, in keeping with our tradition, in investing in women. In 1924, together in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation, believe it or not, we established the YWCA Retirement Fund. It´s actually one of the oldest pension funds in the country, and it was the first women´s retirement fund. Together with the Rockefeller Foundation, we´ve now moved forward, again taking another bold move to create what we call the YWCA Women´s Empowerment Exchange-Traded Fund, or ETF.
Hyland: So, what is an ETF, and exactly how does it work?
Choi: That´s a great question. The Women´s ETF specifically helps us accomplish two things. Number one, it creates key indicators that corporations can use, should know in terms of what they can do and should do to empower women in the workforce. We evaluate corporations based on 19 criteria, and just to name a few, we take a look at what type of leadership roles women have, from the C-suite to the boardroom and across the span of the corporation. Going further, we also evaluate corporations on how well they´re doing with regard to equal pay, paid leave, flex work options, diversity and inclusion, anti-harassment policies, and transparency. The second thing the ETF does -- and this is what makes this initiative so unique and so bold and very innovative -- is that it creates a new revenue opportunity for the YWCA. So, stated another way, it´s an opportunity to invest back in our organization and our 210 associations to ensure that we´re delivering on our critical missions of services to empower women and children throughout the country.
Hyland: And this is something that´s very attractive to Millennials in particular. Recently, 85% of those who were surveyed, Millennials, said that they wanted socially-responsible investing.
Choi: Well, that´s the wonderful thing about impact investing. It´s helping all of us learn, and I think corporations, as well, why impact investing is so important. As you stated, Millennials believe this is the right thing to do. It´s a wonderful opportunity and it´s the right thing to do to align investment opportunities to critical social values that we all hold. Just to add a couple of additional points, over 80% of female investors expect and anticipate that their investments will actually make a societal impact. Over 90% of consumers today expect corporations to do much more than just make a bottom-line profit.
Hyland: Juliet Choi from the YWCA USA, thank you for being our guest.
Choi: Thank you, Sheila.
Hyland: And thank you for joining us. For more great conversations with leaders in your community and across the nation, visit comcastnewsmakers.com. I´m Sheila Hyland. ♫♫ ♫♫