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The Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index: Transparency for a New Norm

March 7, 2018

By Kiersten Barnet, Deputy Chief of Staff to the Chairman, Bloomberg LP

Anyone who watched this year’s Academy Awards knows that the real leading lady of the evening was gender equality. There were a lot of strong statements on Sunday, but one that has stuck with me was Jane Fonda’s confident declaration that “what was once considered groundbreaking is now the norm.”

She’s right. There is a new norm for gender equality and it’s based on transparency.

At Bloomberg transparency is one of our founding principles. We are bringing transparency to markets through access to information – and this includes gender equality data.

Since 2016 Bloomberg has provided investors with standardized, comparable social data that simply isn’t available in public filings through its first-of-its-kind Gender-Equality Index (GEI). This is a collaborative process. We work directly with companies to learn about what they are doing to move women through the pipeline, support the needs of working families, and support diverse customer bases and the communities in which they operate.

The essence of the Gender-Equality Index is that the information it provides helps to create more trust in the investment community. The link between transparency and trust as it relates to gender equality in the workplace was also the key theme of a panel I participated in this week.

Kiersten Barnet (3rd from the right) participates on a panel at the International Women’s Day Forum hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation in Washington D.C. on March 6, 2018.

The International Women’s Day Forum panel hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation in Washington D.C. centered on the economic need to empower women in the workforce. Our moderator Tazeen Hasan, a private sector development specialist at the World Bank, led a discussion that kept coming back to how trust is earned through transparency.

And leading institutions, organizations, and leadership are earning this trust through disclosure. This includes the investment community.

Corporate social responsibility is not a zero sum game – investments can be socially responsible and profitable. As a result, a rising number of investors prefer to invest in companies that are effectively managing their impact on society.

The US Sustainable Investment Foundation estimates that in 2016, $8.72 trillion U.S.-domiciled assets were invested using a sustainable and responsible investment strategy – and that number continues to climb.

Bloomberg’s Gender-Equality Index provides companies that are leaders in this space a platform to showcase their commitment to gender equality through disclosure. Since its launch two years ago, membership in the GEI has quadrupled to over 100 firms across ten sectors headquartered in 24 countries and regions.

The GEI member companies are benefiting from this “new norm” of transparency through increased opportunities to attract capital and investors are armed with more information to meet their clients’ evolving needs.

We are proud to play our part in bridging this gap and doing what Bloomberg does best – bring transparency to the world of the opaque.

Find out more about the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index here.