Women investors – more values than men?

Written by Rebecca O'Connor on 20th October 2015

Women are 10 per cent more likely than men to want to invest in companies that achieve positive social outcomes, according to Standard Life.

Although in both cases this remains a minority concern – 41 per cent  of women vs 31 per cent of men, Standard Life believes it is a growing trend.

Environmental concerns are more of a worry for both genders, the research found, with 48 per cent of women saying they want to invest in companies that minimise environmental damage, compared with 39 per cent of men.

In contrast, men who invest are 14 per cent more likely than women to say they would prioritise high returns over social or environmental considerations (50 per cent vs 36 per cent respectively). This is despite the fact that performance stats show you don’t need to sacrifice returns when following your values. Over the last 5 years, the average return on an ethical fund in the UK was 57 per cent, almost double the performance of the FTSE 100.

Recycling, the food shop… investing?

Women are also more likely than men to say that ethical or environmental considerations have an impact on their life – 73 per cent of women compared to 67% of men – but both sexes agree that recycling and the food shop are most likely to be impacted by their ethical or environmental considerations. 41 per cent of people say they have boycotted a company because they disagreed with the ethics of their behaviour.

The research coincides with Standard Life’s support of Good Money Week, 18-24 October 2015, an opportunity to look at how your money is invested and whether it is being used in ways that benefit society and protect the environment.

Commenting Julie Hutchison, Standard Life’s Consumer Finance expert said: “With ethical considerations coming into so much of what we do, it’s no surprise that women are also thinking about their values when it comes to where they put their money. The good news is that, with ethical funds, it’s not a case of choosing between strong returns and strong values. Over the last 5 years the average return on an ethical fund in the UK was 57%.”

“At Standard Life, we’re seeing more women making investment choices that back up their values – for the Standard Life Savings ISA, for instance, women make up 55% of those invested in the ethical fund, despite making up only 38% of the overall book. And women who choose the ethical fund tend to invest more than their male counterparts – an average fund of £17,000 compared to £11,000 for men.”

She adds: “If you’re new to ethical investing, it’s worth doing some research into the funds available, as each will have different rules about the kind of companies in which it is invested. If you’re not sure you have enough spare cash to invest right now, you could speak to an expert about your current investments. For instance, if you’re in your company pension scheme, you could check if there’s an ethical fund choice which would be right for you and your circumstances.  And don’t forget you have choices about where your ISA is invested too.”

Top five ethical concerns when investing

Women  1. Labour practices and human rights Men
 1. Labour practices and human rights 36% 30%
 2. Animal testing 35%  2. Animal testing 22%
3=. Supporting or producing fur 32% 3=. Supporting or producing fur 20%
3=. Supporting or producing weapons 32% 3=. Supporting or producing weapons 20%
20% 3=. Ethical business practices 20%

Top five areas of everyday life where people are most likely to be impacted by ethical or environmental considerations

Women Men
 1. Recycling 63%  1. Recycling 54%
2. Food shopping 44%  2. Food shopping 32%
 3. Where clothes are bought 21%  3. Type of car to own 20%
 4. Type of car to own 20%  4. Transport 16%
 5. Holidays 17%  5. Where clothes are bought 14%

Standard Life Investments is known for its approach to responsible investment and has produced papers on a variety of themes linked to environmental responsibility, employee relations, human rights and business ethics.

Standard Life has also produced some helpful guides for people wanting to find out more about ethical investment which will be available on standardlife.co.uk from 19 October 2015.

Laws and tax rules may change in the future and your personal circumstances also have an impact on tax treatment. An ISA is an investment; its value can go up or down and may be worth less than you paid in. Past investment performance is not a guide to the future.

Have you got what it takes to be a values-based investor? Try our quiz.