How impact investing and shareholder engagement can help fight the gender gap in business



Dr. Lisette Cooper, Vice Chair of Fiduciary Trust and Founder and former CIO of Athena Capital Advisors, talks impact investing and bridging the gender gap in finance and business with Thrive Global—an organization raising awareness for the well-being and achievements of individuals, communities, and companies.

Dr. Cooper talks about her personal experiences that shaped her finance career to integrate impact investing and guide individuals and organizations to bring social values into their investing. Lisette also shares actionary roles and steps to not only reduce conscious and unconscious bias, but also understand how personal bias impacts decision-making in and out of the workplace, based on the notion that social transformation begins with personal transformation.

When presenting impact investing options to clients, Dr. Cooper encourages institutions, individuals, and families to think about the “big picture,” that is, how are their values reflected in how they spend their time, their philanthropic activities, where they volunteer, and their life goals and objectives. She notes that “most people would say, if I can do just as well in my investment portfolio while I take my values into account, of course I want to do that. And then some people will say they’re actually willing to pay a little more for the opportunity to make a difference.” For those that want to engage in impact investing, Lisette then “show[s] them the avenues for making a difference.”

When asked how impact investing plays a role in improving workplace equity, Dr. Cooper shares the actionable approaches available today, especially those found through public companies in the capital markets, such as shareholder engagement. In this approach, she finds excitement and opportunity, stating that in these sectors, “we can implement changes that you really can’t achieve elsewhere. And that’s what’s so exciting about impact investing because you can help with the supply chain, you can help influence company policies, and you can create the opportunity for girls to have role models about things that they could do.” As an advocate for shareholder engagement, Dr. Cooper explains how owning stock and taking a stand on issues with a grassroots approach can benefit a larger cause.

For more on Dr. Cooper’s take on systemic issues in the workplace, combating bias, and social transformation for impact at scale, click here.