According to a 2021 study by Deloitte, only about 24 percent of leadership roles within financial services firms are filled by women, highlighting a disproportionate gap in leadership participation. The gap widens in C-suite senior leadership positions which are 92 percent male. While these statistics are projected to grow, with 28 percent of women representing leadership roles in finance by 2030 and 14 percent in C-suite leadership, the numbers still show unequal representation across genders.
Since 2015, Girls Who Invest (GWI), a nonprofit “dedicated to increasing the number of women in portfolio management and executive leadership in the asset management industry,” has been working to achieve gender parity in the financial sector and beyond.
The group was founded by Seema Hingorani, a Managing Director at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, with 25 years of experience. Previously, Seema was Founder and Chief Investment Officer of SevenStep Capital, an investment platform focused on investing in women and minority portfolio managers. Through the program, Hingorani set out to achieve the goal of having 30 percent of the world’s investable capital managed by women by 2030.
Girls Who Invest (GWI) hosts intensive educational programs to help build a pipeline of talented young women who are eager to work in the investment industry. GWI holds annual summer programs between May and August for college sophomores. While 2022 applications are closed, they typically open in May of each year. To apply, students must submit two letters of recommendation, academic transcripts, their resume, a one-minute video and two written essays.
In the Summer Intensive Program, students will learn to build important skills for entering the finance industry by:
- Learning finance and investment concepts from leading business professors
- Learning the technical skills to adapt and thrive in the business sector
- Networking with industry professionals through a lunchtime “Speaker Series
- And interacting with company executives through a group capstone project
More than 500 women, with 70 percent of alumni identifying as women of color, have completed the GWI Summer Intensive program since its inception. Alumni have the benefit of accessing GWI’s careers website, resources for career development and opportunities to attend networking events.
Vista Equity Partners Partnership with Girls Who Invest
Robert F. Smith centers his philanthropy around supporting marginalized communities and backs the ideals of the Girls Who Invest mission. Vista Equity Partners, a global investment firm for which Smith is Founder, Chairman and CEO, partners with the organization to help improve diversity in portfolio management and executive leadership in the world of finance. In fact, Smith was the first person Hingorani contacted when she was developing her idea for GWI. “My first phone call was to Robert Smith,” Hingorani said. “And in a 15-minute phone call he was in, and he’s been a big supporter of ours ever since.”
In 2019, Vista Equity Partners committed to extend their partnership for GWI until 2024, and contributed $1.5 million into the Summer Intensive Program and internship opportunities.
Learn more about Smith’s efforts to support women in their professional and academic endeavors, including the internXL program.