Abigail Slater doesn’t just lean in -- she actively invests in her time, money and energy to make room for women around the world to lead too.
Not only is she a partner at Marigold Capital, a private investment fund focused on women-led companies, she is also the past chair of SheEO Canada Fund, a uniquely structured venture fund working to close a critical gender gap: less than 3% of venture funding goes to female entrepreneurs.
For Abigail, it’s not enough for investors to simply focus on the bottom line and she is one of a growing number of influential voices calling for a broader approach to evaluating investments, one of which is applying a gender lens.
But just having women on the board isn’t enough to bring Marigold Capital on. “We want to ensure that there is equity throughout the whole process," Abigail says.
Gender lens investing typically refers to an investment strategy that incorporates considerations of gender equity and positive impact for women and girls. Beyond focusing on who is receiving funding, other questions may include: Who controls or is consulted about major decisions? Does a company’s supply chain include--as it often does for clothing companies--young, underpaid women working under poor conditions? What parental benefits are offered?
Just having women on the board isn’t enough to bring Marigold Capital on. “We want to ensure that there is equity throughout the whole process,” Abigail says.
There are new ways for everyday Canadians to start making a positive impact on gender equity through their own investment portfolios.
While private equity investments like Marigold’s may be out of reach for most of us, there are new ways for everyday Canadians to start making a positive impact on gender equity through their own investment portfolios.
In 2016, BMO launched the Women in Leadership Mutual Fund and in 2018 RBC launched the Vision Women's Leadership MSCI Canada Index ETF. Both invest in and track companies with strong female representation on boards and in leadership positions. While the track records of these particular funds are still short, studies show that gender diversity on boards is a predictor of long-term value creation and lower stock price volatility.
"A more equitable approach to capital leads to better stewardship of capital."
In Abigail’s experience, taking "a more equitable approach to capital leads to better stewardship of capital. It isn’t about spectacular exits or scale for the sake of scale, but about strong consistent performance in a company,” she says.
Abigail’s deep passion for investments that make a positive impact on the world also led her to CoPower. “At the time I started in the impact field, companies working on clean energy and sustainability had the strongest track record, and so that’s what I was looking for.”
It just so happened that Trish Nixon, a woman in her network whose career trajectory she was following closely, had recently left the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing to join CoPower as Director of Investment.
Abigail didn’t shy away from applying a gender lens to CoPower, and it was Trish Nixon’s leadership that made the decision to invest a natural one.
Even though it wasn’t a gender investment--CoPower’s mission is about making it easier for Canadians to access investments in clean energy--and she was impressed by the product, Abigail didn’t shy away from applying a gender lens and it was Trish’s leadership that made the decision to invest a natural one.
“When I look at an investment, I look at the management team, who they’re promoting, who is involved in decision making,” she said.
“Although the founders are men, I did feel they were paying attention to building a strong, diverse team, which ultimately leads to better decisions,” she said. Kathrin Ohle, CoPower’s Chief Investment Officer, who oversees the company's investment process for clean energy projects, is another impressive woman in her own right.
“Although the founders are men, I did feel they were paying attention to building a strong, diverse team, which ultimately leads to better decisions.”
Ultimately for Abigail, CoPower’s selling feature, besides a deep passion for investments that try to make a positive impact on the world, was the people.
“I was really impressed with their approach, their commitment, their integrity,” she says. ‘For me, it’s always the people first.”
Bio: Abigail Slater is a General Partner at Marigold Capital, a gender-lens impact fund, and Director of Barlow Holdings Limited, a private investment fund focusing on traditional industry and asset-backed lending investments, including an impact investment strategy. Abigail’s commitment to the field of social enterprise can also be seen through her involvement as past chair of the board of directors at SheEO Canada Fund, an initiative to support and fund female entrepreneurs. Through “Eat to the Beat” an event founded with her sister, she has helped raise over $4 million for breast cancer research, volunteer work for which she was recognized with a 2012 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Editor's note: Abigail invested in CoPower's first fund which is now closed. Today she is invested in CoPower's second issuance of Green Bonds. CoPower's third issuance of Green Bonds (Green Bond III) is now available. This blog was solicited by CoPower and may not be representative of the views of other investors or potential investors in CoPower Green Bonds. Please consult the Offering Memorandum of CoPower Finance Inc. dated May 11, 2018 for all material information in respect of CoPower Finance Inc., the third issuance of CoPower Green Bonds and the terms of the offering of the third issuance of CoPower Green Bonds.