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Empowering women


An empowering way for women to invest in a change for the better 

Published 15 January 2024 in Purpose • 4 min read

By taking a leading role in the impact economy, women can change the way businesses operate and transform lives.

The investment landscape has experienced a noteworthy evolution over recent years, as we’ve witnessed the integration of profit-making with purpose-driven initiatives. Impact investing centers on generating positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside financial returns. The belief is that one can “do good” for society and “do well” financially. 

Recognizing the multidimensional nature of social issues, Jane Fraser, CEO of Citi, introduces a new “S” in ESG: security. This encompasses food security, energy security, defense, and financial stability. According to Fraser, security is not just a social issue but also vital for good governance, highlighting the interconnectedness of social, economic, and environmental challenges and underscoring the need for comprehensive, impactful solutions. Other examples include: 

  • Clara Miller, President Emerita of the Heron Foundation, emphasizes the dynamic nature of money, asserting that capital has the power to address complex issues, making investments not just financially sound but also socially and environmentally responsible. 
  • Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder of Acumen, advocates a forward-thinking perspective, noting that “patient capital” is about looking at the world optimistically and stating: “We can make a difference.” Impact investors envision a world where financial prosperity coexists with social progress and environmental sustainability. 
  • Jean Case, CEO of the Case Foundation, underlines the importance of impactful leadership, stating that the future of innovation will be shaped by leaders driven not just by financial returns but by the impact they can make in the world. Women investors, prioritizing the “S” in ESG, focus on social impact and community development, fostering a more inclusive and socially responsible business environment.  
  • Nancy Pfund, Founder and Managing Partner of DBL Partners, reinforces the idea that investing in companies solving global challenges can be both financially rewarding and incredibly impactful. For women, the impact economy is not just a trend it’s a powerful tool for empowerment and change. Impact investing for women is not only about profit margins but also leaving a positive legacy, fostering inclusive businesses, and championing social justice. 

The implications of women’s active participation in the impact economy are profound, challenging traditional investment norms and urging a shift towards a more compassionate and holistic approach. It encourages businesses to be more socially responsible, addressing critical issues such as gender equality, education, and healthcare. This shift in focus has ripple effects, prompting corporations to align their goals strategically with societal needs. 

Issue XII cover Impact Economy

Building sustainable organizations

The impact economy issue

To secure a more sustainable and inclusive future, we need creative ideas and partnerships that reimagine the global economy. In Issue XII of I by IMD, we explore how the fast-emerging “impact economy” is changing the way we do business – and the world.

Explore Issue XII

The impact economy paves the way for a more equitable future, and women investors, including those in Fortune 500 companies, play a pivotal role in breaking down barriers and fostering inclusivity. This movement empowers women not just as investors but as changemakers, propelling them into leadership roles where their voices can be strategically heard, valued, and acted upon. As my friend Ruma Bose, entrepreneur and Board Member of Calvert Impact Capital, says: “Investing intentionally in what I call FI, Female Intelligence, can be a far bigger deal in the next decade even than AI, both in financial returns and in positive social impact.”  

The active participation of women in the impact economy isn’t just pivotal, it’s revolutionary. It heralds a future where investments serve a dual purpose — ensuring financial growth while making meaningful contributions to society. This movement holds the promise of a more compassionate, inclusive, and sustainable world, demonstrating that when women invest strategically, they not only shape the economy but also transform lives and inspire generations to come.  

The “I” in ROI gives you both a return on impact and a return on investment, making it a compelling strategic deal. 


Shelly Zalis

Shelley Zalis

Founder and CEO of The Female Quotient

A trailblazer for women in the workplace, Shelley Zalis is an internationally renowned entrepreneur, a pioneer for online research, a sought-after speaker, a well-known thought leader, and a devoted mentor. As founder and CEO of The Female Quotient, Zalis is in the business of equality™. Together with a growing global community of more than a million conscious leaders, she is on a mission to change the equation and close the gender gap. 


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