Standard Life Investments

Press Release

Women, ESG and Investing

01  October  2018

Supporting Good Money Week 2018

  • 1 in 4 women like the idea that their investment choices could make a positive difference in the world
  • Awareness of the UN Sustainable Development Goals is greatest among 18-24 year olds
  • Only 9% of women are not interested in where or how their money is invested 

Aberdeen Standard Investments, the global asset manager, has today released findings into attitudes to incorporating environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) issues into investments from extensive YouGov research into people’s approaches to saving and investing.  At the start of Good Money Week the research highlights that the majority of investors, particularly women, do care about where their money is invested.

There is genuine interest in doing good: 24% of women compared to 20% of men like the idea that their investment choices could make a positive difference in the world.  Only 9% of women are not interested in where or how their money is invested. When asked about where their money is currently invested, 36% of women (compared to 30% of men) assumed that their financial product provider is not investing their money in companies which are not appropriate but they simply do not know if this is actually the case.   Almost half of all women surveyed (48%) hold some form of investment, via their pension or standalone product, and of this 14% have chosen to hold investments that look at environmental and social issues - 7% of all women surveyed.

The nine categories of issues introduced to respondents: human rights, preserving the environment, good corporate governance, sustainability, avoidance of unethical products, ethical sourcing, innovation, community and social impact all attracted a groundswell of support but human rights was regarded as most important overall. 

Data from the quantitative survey reflects insights from the qualitative research in which women expressed genuine interest and concern for a wide variety of ESG issues, were keen to know more and enthusiastic about the idea that their investment choices could have a positive impact on the world.  

Commenting on the findings, Amanda Young, Head of Global ESG Research at Aberdeen Standard Investments, said:

Amanda Young

“In our research, discussions around how integrating issues such as the environment or human rights into the investment process can lead to better outcomes for people and our planet were met with positivity and enthusiasm. In particular women care about these matters and want to invest responsibly. As women are often the lead decision makers and money managers in household matters, they are uniquely positioned to help facilitate positive change and also influence the next generation to invest in ways which benefit society and the environment.”

Of the terms used to describe investments that look at sustainability factors “ethical”, “socially responsible” and “sustainable” were selected overall as the most appropriate. Only 20% of respondents overall had heard of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals before taking the survey, but once these had been introduced to the qualitative respondents, talking about ESG issues and UN SDGs prompted women in the groups to want to know more about how and where money is invested. The data showed that awareness of the UN SDGs is greatest among 18-24 year olds.

In conclusion, Amanda said:

“We know that there is more work to be done to make investing sustainably more widely understood and accessible in the UK. Our research shows that women have a vital role to play in contributing to and driving forward this agenda. Our report adds to the growing body of evidence that shows that retail investors want their investments to have a positive impact on society and the environment, and recognise that how we decide to invest today shapes tomorrow’s world.”

The report provides a summary of the findings from qualitative research undertaken among women, and quantitative research among a nationally representative sample of almost 9,000 men and women in the UK. It is the first report from a much larger study and other findings will be published over the next few months.