Why Women and Millennials are Likely to Drive Growth in Responsible Investing


By Lynne Ford, Executive Vice President of Calvert Investments



Three important trends are already changing the asset management industry, and are poised to become even more important in the coming years. First, based on their spending and earning power, women now represent a growth market bigger than those of China and India combined. This reality was identified by Kate Sayre and Michael Silverstein of the Boston Consulting Group in their article “The Female Economy.”

The second trend is the ever-increasing percentage of millennials in the workforce—forty-six percent by the year 2020. What does that mean when you project ahead another decade or two after that? It means that this generation is going to hold important keys to the future. Yet most of us continue to manage our business models around boomers.

The third major trend is the increasing focus on sustainability. With events such as the Paris Climate Agreement and the Pope’s 2015 speech on the importance of protecting the environment, concerns about sustainability have become part of the mainstream conversation. Like the tidal changes of the Internet and social media, demands for global change and sustainability will only increase, and women and millennials will likely drive this pressure.

Millennials have grown up recycling and hearing about solar panels and water conservation and carbon emissions. Theirs is a global world, and based on a focus group of millennial investors that Calvert conducted in 2015, their attitudes about investing are in tune with their values:

• They are nearly twice as likely to be familiar with “sustainable investing” — or what we’re now beginning to refer to as “responsible investing” — than other generations (57 percent vs. 29 percent)

• They are three times more likely to have discussed responsible investing with family and friends (39 percent vs. 12 percent)

• They are more than twice as likely to invest responsibly (70 percent vs. 31 percent)

Women are also leading the way to a focus on sustainability. Last year, Calvert Investments (www.calvert.com) conducted a study of 1,036 women aged 25 to 70 with household income over $75,000 that explored purchasing behavior, charitable giving, and responsible investing.

• Nearly all ranked “helping others” (95 percent) and “environmental responsibility” (90 percent) as important.

• At least some of the time, roughly 60 percent of the women based purchase decisions on how a company’s corporate behavior aligns with their personal values.

• Although many affluent women change purchasing behavior to support their values and donate significant sums to nonprofits, only four percent say they understand how to invest their dollars in a way that supports their values, and 70 percent have not heard of sustainable or responsible investing. However, 18 percent would invest in mutual funds that support their values and more than half (54 percent) want to invest in companies that have a high degree of corporate responsibility and ethical business practices.

• Half of affluent women with employer sponsored retirement plans are very or somewhat interested in being given a responsible investment choice.

As responsible investing becomes more widely known, there could be significant opportunity for financial advisors to get ahead of the curve by helping women align their values with their need for financial growth and stability.

Women and Millennials Have the Potential to Drive Responsible Investing

Women want to use their investment dollars to support their values in the same way they use their purchases to achieve that objective. As more women gain awareness of responsible investment strategies, the statistics above suggest they will direct their dollars toward responsible investment solutions. Our survey found significant differences between the Millennial and Baby Boom generations on responsible investing topics. While Millennial women are the most likely to say social and environmental causes and issues are very important and drive much of what they do (90 percent versus 81 percent for Generation X and 80 percent for Baby Boomers), Baby Boomer women are more likely to change purchasing behavior (28 percent) and show the strongest interest in sustainable and responsible investing (63 percent).

Calvert has been focused on responsible investing for more than 30 years. This includes proactively selecting responsible investments as well as using our clout as a significant institutional investor to drive change. In 2004, the Calvert Women’s Principles were established in partnership with the United Nations and were the first code of corporate conduct focused exclusively on empowering, advancing, and investing in women worldwide. The seven principles — available on the Calvert website — provide a roadmap of how a company should aspire to impact women, a tangible measuring stick for assessing progress, and a gauge on how a company affects women in the community through its products and its impact on women down the global supply chain.

Today, the Calvert Women’s Principles are being adopted and activated through partners such as the UN Global Compact — where more than 800 companies have signed on to work toward adopting the principles — and through municipalities that are looking to create standards for businesses in their regions. The City of San Francisco is a great example.

We also just updated our bi-annual look at how companies in the S&P 100 are doing on a range of diversity indicators—including several key women’s issues. I would encourage you to look for that report, which we call “Examining the Cracks in the Glass Ceiling,” on our website as well [1].

Responsible Investing Can Also Drive Financial Returns

Beyond allowing investors to align their investments with their values, multiple studies have shown that paying attention to non-financial environmental, social and governance metrics can make a positive, material impact on portfolios. For example, working with Harvard professor George Serafeim, Calvert recently published “The Evolving Role of the Corporation in Society”[2]. This report outlines why and how companies are investing in efforts to manage their impacts on society and the environment and how this activity can translate into benefits for investors.

An increasing number of investors — led by Women and millennials — already prefer to invest in companies that are effectively managing their impact on society and the environment. Now, financial professionals have the research and the choices to help their clients and prospects build their nest eggs with investments that also reflect their values.


Article by Lynne Ford, executive vice president, Calvert Distributors, Inc. leads the firm’s sales efforts across all institutional and retail channels, as well as Calvert’s product, marketing, and public relations efforts. An industry veteran since 1984, Ms. Ford brings both significant experience and new ideas to the task of growing sales and assets while re-energizing Calvert’s leadership position within the responsible investment segment of the industry. Before joining Calvert in 2012, Ms. Ford served as executive vice president and chief executive officer of Individual Retirement at ING Life Insurance and Annuity Company, where she was responsible for the ING Broker Dealers, retirement rollover platform, and fixed income annuities. Ms. Ford spent the majority of her professional career at Wachovia, which merged with Wells Fargo in late 2008, serving in a number of executive capacities within its investment management and distribution organizations. She built the Retail Retirement Group as executive vice president and managing director, after being promoted from senior vice president and Retirement Sales Strategy executive where she was instrumental in creating the overall retirement strategy at a corporate level. She also held a number of executive positions within Evergreen Investments, from 1993-2003.

An active and engaged member of her community, Ms. Ford is a member of the 2015 Leadership Greater Washington program. She is a director of the Insured Retirement Institute and was previously on the Executive Committee, serving as chair of the board 2011 – 2012. She also serves on the National Board of Junior Achievement USA and is a member of the Audit committee. Ms. Ford holds a Bachelor’s degree from Davidson College and a Master’s degree from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.


[1] https://www.calvert.com/the-calvert-diversity-report-examining-the-cracks-in-the-ceiling.php

[2] https://www.calvert.com/calvert-serafeim-series-report.php

Calvert Investments, Inc., 4550 Montgomery Avenue, Suite 1000N, Bethesda, MD. 20814

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