Gender-Smart Investing Resource Hub

Learn how to better integrate gender into investment processes to make smarter investments that enhance returns, gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.

Use our sector-specific Gender-Smart Investing Resource Hub to explore gender opportunities, screen potential investments through a gender lens, and advise companies on how to better integrate gender through their operations and supply chains. These gender lens investing tools are designed for impact investors (both impact-first and finance-first) who are deploying various asset classes to companies primarily in emerging and developing country markets.

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Off-Grid Energy

Off-Grid Energy

Power Sector

Power Sector



  • Why integrate gender insights into investment processes?

    Integrating gender insights into investment processes is just smart investing. With variation by sector and context, gender affects business, and business affects gender – both inside and outside the company. It’s a ubiquitous factor that remains under-studied and inadequately leveraged.

    A growing body of research clearly links gender diversity in leadership and the workforce, to financial returns, lower risk, and sustainable growth. As both impact investors and traditional investors recognize how gender considerations are related to the bottom line, gender-smart investing is making its way into the mainstream.

    Learn more about the connection between gender and materiality.
  • What exactly is gender-smart investing?

    Gender-smart investing (GSI) is the use of capital to simultaneously generate financial returns and advance gender equality. Applying a “gender lens” is about integrating gender analysis into financial analysis to see things you otherwise might miss.

    In the world of work, gender-related risks and opportunities crosscut all industries. However, gender itself is constructed based on a dynamic set of relations between women and men in different contexts. Investors must therefore ask different questions based on the sector, business model, region, and their own investment thesis.

    For more information on the history and evolution of gender-smart investing, please investigate the following resources:

  • How do these resources enable me to be gender-smart?

    As the field of and demand for GSI evolves and matures, so must the instruments for assessment and valuation. The ICRW Gender-Smart Investing Resource Hub builds on a foundation of gender lens investing tools and research from the past decade to meet a fresh, refined need: sector-specific technical tools for learning and decision-making.

    The open-source tools in this Hub enable users—primarily impact investors and development finance institutions—to make their investment processes gender-smart, thereby powering better, more informed, and ultimately smarter investments. The Hub currently houses resources for four sectors: agriculture, off-grid energy, power infrastructure, and healthcare. Each sector includes:

    • A Briefing on the state of gender in the particular sector.
    • A Gender Opportunities Explorer that allows users to learn more about ways gender can be integrated in different business domains for companies in the sector.
    • A Gender Scoring Tool for rapidly assessing companies in the sector and generating a "gender score." Investors (or companies themselves) can use the scores to benchmark performance, identify new gender opportunities with high likelihood of material impact, and develop priority areas for action.
    • A Gender Materiality Map that plots where exactly in the value chain gender is financially material (or not) in the particular sector.
    • A Social Impact Visual that maps the causal pathways of positive impacts on women, their families, and the communities where businesses operate.
    • Case Studies to illustrate examples of leading companies that have integrated gender into their operations and highlight the resulting social and business impacts.

    *Note: Power infrastructure and healthcare do not yet have the full suite of resources.

  • Is the ICRW scoring tool different from other gender tools?
    There are multiple tools available to understand and evaluate gender within organizations. These include a variety of open source and proprietary tools, which have different primary users and purposes.

    Some tools specifically target investors with different uses in the investment process. Tools include, for example, SEAF’s rapid Gender Equality Scorecard, MEDA’s longer assessment process to guide gender mainstreaming strategies called the Gender Equality Mainstreaming (GEM) Framework, and Calvert Impact Capital’s due diligence model captured in Key Questions for Underwriting Gender Equity. Others like Equileap provide gender data and ratings for publicly traded companies, and support investors to incorporate this information in financial products.

    Some tools target enterprises themselves. The Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), developed by UN Women and UN Global Compact in 2010, provide foundational guidance to companies, while the WEPs Gender Gap Analysis Tool enables companies to assess their own performance on gender equality. Additional assessment guides for companies include the Australian Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s Gender Equality Scorecard and Strategy Toolkit and CITE’s Self-Assessment Guide on Gender Equality in Companies (Portugal). Others are linked to accreditation services, such as EDGE Certification, UNDP’s Gender Equality Seal, and Double Helix.

    The ICRW Gender Scoring Tool targets impact investors, particularly for those investing in private companies in developing country and emerging markets, although it is relevant beyond this audience including for company self-assessment. The primary use cases for investors are (1) during screening or due diligence with potential investees, and (2) to identify strategic gender opportunities with current portfolio companies.

    The ICRW Gender Scoring Tool builds on similar tools on the market, with two main differences: • The “tool” contains multiple versions, which are sector-specific. • These tools focus on both gender equity in the workplace and opportunities across the broader sector value chain. Most other tools focus on gender in the workplace with some posing supply chain questions.

    Further, the Scoring Tool connects to related investor resources on the Hub, which seeks to serve as a "one-stop shop" for gender-smart investors. For example, company scores can be viewed against the relevant sector’s Gender Materiality Map to identify areas for action. Users can then refer to the Gender Opportunities Explorer to uncover specific strategies for companies to get started. Finally users can delve into the Social Impact Visuals to learn about additional outcomes that can result from promoting gender equity in the sector.

    Ultimately, the order and use of ICRW’s gender-smart investing resources depend on the user, their needs and their overall goal.

  • How was the GSI Hub developed?
    The GSI Resource Hub was originally developed by ICRW Advisors in 2018 with funding from the UK Department for International Development Impact Programme, and support from CDC Group. The team included Genevieve Smith, Allie Glinski, Shelley Martin, Ted Rizzo and Margi Goelz.

    ICRW Advisors wishes to acknowledge and thank all those who contributed thought leadership, case study information and materiality data in the development of the GSI Resource Hub:

    Aik Alenkhe (EKEDC Nigeria), Akosua Ampofo Siever (Root Capital), Giselle Aris (Land O’Lakes International Development), Nuzhath Ayaz (Portea Medical), David Barber (Paradigm Project), Johanna Barber (Paradigm Project), Suzanne Beagle, Jennifer Buckley (SEAF), Chris Bullard (Acumen), Carolyn Burns (MEDA), David Disch (Bidhaa Sasa), Lissa Glasgo (The GIIN), Alberto Gomez-Obregon (Acumen), Sophia Grinvalds (Afripads), Shabnam Hameed (IFC), Betty Ikalany (AEST), Jennifer John (Gender Lens Capital), Kathryn Kaufman (OPIC), Naoko Kimura (The GIIN), Michelle Kirby (myAgro), Connie Kolosvary (Café Feminino), Johanna Matocha (Paradigm Project), Esha Mufti (Acumen), Hellen Mundia (BURN), Tara Murphy (Global Partnerships), Hildah Njau (BURN), Boston Nyer (BURN), Rocio Perez-Ochoa (Bishaa Sasa), Melissa Persaud (Viamo), Aneta Petrovska-Rusomaroski (EVN Macedonia), Arpita Raksit (CDC Group), Mitch Sauers (Fenix International), Inka Schomer (World Bank), Rachel Serotta, Vijaybhasker Srinivas (LifeSpring Hospitals), Darcey Tindall (myAgro), Sarah Twigg (IFC), Jackie VanderBrug, Robert Webster (SEAF), Kristen Yee (Criterion Institute) and Katharine Zafiris (The GIIN).

    For details on how the sector-specific Scoring Tools were developed, read about ICRW's Scorecard Methodology. For other frequently asked user questions, please consult the Scoring Tool FAQs.


Banner photograph: Copyright DSW (Kenya)


The GSI Resource Hub was developed by ICRW Advisors in 2018 with funding from the UK Department for International Development Impact Programme, and support from CDC Group. We welcome feedback and look forward to refining and expanding these investor resources with their continued use. For more information on our methodology, technical assistance, or to inquire about expansion into a sector of interest, please contact [email protected] 


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