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This month British investment firm Legal & General launched a UK fund that prioritizes investing in companies with a fair representation of women across all levels. The GBP 50 million ‘L&G Future World Gender in Leadership UK Index Fund’ (‘Girl Fund’ for short) aims to tackle the gender pay gap by aiming to empower investors to “make a difference to the companies in which they invest”.

Iceland became the first country to make it illegal to pay women less than men in January this year (finally!). Meanwhile in the UK, in April it became a legal requirement for companies to publish their gender pay data. The results showed the median pay for women was 9.7% less than their male counterparts. In the US the gender pay gap has been reported as 18%. And while Iceland’s tough stance remains a (very positive!) outlier, Legal & General’s new fund should remind you that forward-thinking businesses don’t need to wait for regulation to tackle this issue.

But – just as with many sustainability initiatives – don’t think the hard-nosed investors at Legal & General are just doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. Studies have shown that companies with women at board and executive levels perform better than those with a mostly male demographic. Indeed, McKinsey estimate that advancing gender equality could add USD 12 trillion to the economy by 2025 (that’s 11% of global GDP!). Treating women fairly isn’t just ethical: it’s a smart business move too 😉

Yes, it’s become a bit of a cliché, but doing good is good business. Are there social issues in your industry that could be not just solved, but turned into entirely new opportunities?

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