Press Release: Gender Gap Persists in Impact Investing Study
Despite a growing share of women across five countries reporting impact investing appeals to them, the sixth impact investing survey by the $218 billion* global asset manager American Century Investments shows a gender gap persists. Overall, the appeal of impact investing continued to rise across countries, except for the U.S. Results go back to 2016 in the United States, 2019 in the U.K., 2020 in Germany, 2021 in Australia and 2022 in Singapore.
“The totality of our impact investing surveys shows the appeal has increased over the years across nations for men and women, baby boomers, Gen Xers and millennials,” said Sarah Bratton Hughes, senior vice president and head of sustainable investing for American Century Investments. “Even the populations whose interest lags other populations’ interest are making gains. This isn’t surprising, because the long-term drivers for sustainable investing remain strong, and that reaches all populations.”
Gender gap persists internationally and widens in Australia
The 2022 survey showed women find impact investing more appealing than in prior years. Interest grew five points among U.S. women since 2018, seven points among U.K. women since 2019, 16 points among German women since 2020, and two points among Australian women since 2021.
Yet as it has been each year, men’s interest in impact investing is higher than women’s. This gap is largest in German and Australia (12 points) and exists across all countries, including Singapore, where women’s interest (66%) is higher than U.S. men (60%) and German men (57%) but lags Singaporean men (72%). The gap has been relatively unchanged in the U.S., U.K. and Germany, but in Australia it has jumped from a five-point difference in 2021 to a 12-point difference in 2022.
A question new to the survey this year reveals another gender gap: in all five countries, men were more likely than women to report the recent sustainability “backlash” impacted their appetite for impact investing. Yet backlash’s impact on men was mixed: men in the U.K., Australia and Germany reported a higher appeal in 2022 compared to 2021 while American men’s interest fell by three points. Singapore did not have 2021 results.
Geographic rankings shift with addition of Singapore and declining interest only in U.S.
Overall, the interest in impact investing rose 14 points in Germany, six points in Australia and two points in the U.K. but fell five points in the U.S. since 2021. These changes, plus Singapore’s addition to the survey, shifted comparative rankings. Singapore (69%) took the top spot, displacing the U.K. (65%) to number two, while Australia (63%) displaced the U.S. (56%) from the next spot. Germany remained last (51%) despite seeing the largest increase.
“Despite a challenging global economy, an evolving regulatory environment, and political pushback over the last year, interest in sustainable investing not only endures, but has grown in most places,” said Bratton Hughes. “And even though the appeal in the U.S. fell five points since 2021, it has increased 18 points since 2016.”
Bratton Hughes also pointed out U.S. (24%) and German (24%) respondents were the least likely to report the recent sustainability “backlash” impacted their appetite for impact investing, compared to Australia (26%), the U.K. (31%) and Singapore (53%).
“Despite the political pressure, we believe the American people are neither ‘anti-ESG’ nor anti-environment. They are anti-exclusion,” said Bratton Hughes. “Integrating sustainability and ESG factors into the investment process is not, and should not be, politically motivated – it is focused on value creation, not values. We believe incorporating sustainability into our investment processes can lead to more informed decision-making and better long-term risk-adjusted returns for our clients.”
Health care and disease prevention and cures remains a top cause
For the sixth consecutive survey, health care and disease prevention and cures is the cause that matters the most in the U.S. and Australia, and the second concern in the U.K. and Singapore after the environment.
As an asset manager with an impact on global health, American Century Investments has a unique perspective on sustainable investing. More than 40% of American Century dividends go to the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, a world-class biomedical research organization with an equity stake in American Century. American Century Investments has generated nearly $2 billion in dividends for the Stowers Institute since 2000.
“We have a purpose-driven business model that sets us apart in the industry. Through our relationship with the Stowers Institute, we generate an impact on global health while helping clients achieve financial success. Our connection with the Stowers Institute, as well as their long-term view and commitment to research and innovation has helped to shape our culture and naturally aligns with integrating sustainability into our investment practices,” said Bratton Hughes.
Impact investing is financial investments designed to have a positive impact on society, while providing potential long-term returns. The 2022 survey was conducted among a representative sample of 1,007 U.S. adults, 1,004 U.K. adults, 1,003 adults in Germany, 1,005 adults in Australia and 1,002 adults in Singapore 18 years of age and older from December 12-14, 2022, in the U.S. and December 9–14, 2022 internationally. The study was fielded using Big Village’s Online CARAVAN Omnibus Survey. The results from the survey were weighted by age, sex, geographic region, race and education to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the adult U.S., U.K., Germany, Singapore and Australia populations. For the purposes of this survey, millennials were defined as those aged 26 to 41; Gen Xers were defined as those aged 42 to 57; and baby boomers were defined as those aged 58 to 76.
About American Century Investments
American Century Investments is a leading global asset manager focused on delivering investment results and building long-term client relationships while supporting breakthrough medical research. Founded in 1958, American Century Investments’ 1,400 employees serve financial professionals, institutions, corporations and individual investors from offices in New York; London; Frankfurt; Hong Kong; Sydney; Santa Clara, Calif.; and Kansas City, Mo. Jonathan S. Thomas is president and chief executive officer, and Victor Zhang serves as chief investment officer. Delivering investment results to clients enables American Century Investments to distribute over 40% of its dividends to the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, a 500-person, nonprofit basic biomedical research organization. The Institute owns more than 40% of American Century Investments and has received dividend payments of nearly $2 billion since 2000. For more information about American Century Investments, visit www.americancentury.com.
Photo courtesy of Lorenzo.