Women in Sustainable Finance
Women in Sustainable Finance (WISF) is a networking group based in Australia supporting diversity in sustainable finance. The group provides networking, educational and leadership opportunities to women and men progressing their careers in the sustainable-finance sector.
Sustainable finance is about integrating economic, social and environmental decision-making in an organisation, in order to deliver better overall outcomes not just for shareholders but for all communities. Diversity is a key component of sustainable finance and there is a growing body of evidence that diverse companies also perform better financially.
For example, Harvard Business Review has reported that EBIT margins for companies with diverse management teams are nearly 10 per cent higher than for companies with below-average management diversity. In Australia, research by the Centre for Gender Economics and Innovation and Infinitas Asset Management has found that top Australian companies with at least 25 per cent female boards perform more than 7 per cent better than those with all-male boards.
With this evidence in mind, WISF aims to empower a gender-diverse workforce in sustainable finance. The group believes in making a positive contribution to the sustainable-finance sector by providing opportunities for discussion, learning and collaboration.
WISF attracts a diverse cross-section of professionals who are passionate about making a difference at a societal level. The group understands that change can be driven through collaboration and by broadening networks across sustainability-linked sectors. Furthermore, to succeed as individuals in our professional fields, WISF believes we must come together to support one another and celebrate our achievements.
The WISF initiative started in late 2016, recognising that while there were many diversity groups in the finance sector there was not an Australian-based diversity group with a focus on sustainable investment. What started with a single event in the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) Sydney office with just more than 30 attendees has now grown to a network of more than 1,200 people, with organising committees in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.
WISF events feature leading speakers on a vast range of industry topics pertinent to the sustainable-finance sector – such as the circular economy, gender-lens investing, renewables investment, the Paris Agreement, sustainable transport and impact investing.
There is no formal membership to join the WISF network. Events are free for attendees, thanks to the generosity of hosts and sponsors. Both men and women are encouraged to attend. WISF events reach people in investment funds, banks, and environment and sustainable development organisations, as well as corporates, and energy and renewable-energy companies. Anyone can join the network and receive notifications about events by emailing the address in the information box above.
WISF is backed by the CEFC. The group’s many events are made possible thanks to its event sponsors and hosts from across the sector. Past event sponsors include National Australia Bank, ANZ, Hesta, Bloomberg, Mirvac, Macquarie Bank, Baker & McKenzie, Herbert Smith Freehills, EY, Citibank and Australian Ethical.
Past events include:
- Brisbane: Waste Not, Want Not, hosted by KPMG.
- Melbourne: The Role of Impact Investment in the Transformation of the For-Purpose Sector, hosted by EY.
- Sydney: Rethinking Australian Agriculture, hosted by Macquarie.
Rethinking Australian Agriculture event, July 2019.