Bridging the Gender Divide: 3 Ways We Support Women

a graphic with headshots of women who work at Genus over a blue background with Genus logo

According to American Banker, women lead some of the most powerful and influential financial institutions in the U.S. For example, Nasdaq’s Chair and CEO is female. So is the president of the New York Stock Exchange Group. In fact, their list of powerful women in finance[1] showcases many women who have reached senior positions in the financial sector. Which almost makes it seem like the gender divide may be closing. But don’t be mistaken, this is not the norm.

While women actually outnumber men in lower-level positions in finance and banking, when it comes to c-suite roles, they’re significantly outnumbered. According to McKinsey[2], women and men enter the field of finance in relatively equal numbers, but that’s where the gender parity ends. In the field of private equity, women occupy fewer than 10% of senior roles[3]. And in venture capital firms, women make up only 4.9% of firm partners[4].

In addition to challenges for women working in finance, women also face big gaps when it comes to managing their own finances. “We have a confidence gap, we have a financial literacy gap and we have a pay equity gap,” says Shannon Ward, Chief Growth Officer at Genus. “A lot of the time, women don’t have as much money as their male counterparts. Then when they do have it, they don’t have the knowledge to grow it. Or maybe they do have the knowledge but not the confidence. It creates the perfect storm of disempowerment that can lead to poor financial decision making.”

According to OECD data[5], there is no country in the world where women score higher than men in financial knowledge. And that needs to change. One of our core values has always been about supporting women – those working in finance, our own female clients, and women around the world looking to build their financial literacy and education. Here’s how we’re doing it.

Supporting women at work

We’re proud to say that Genus was built as much by women as it was by men – from day one. And we have always hired and supported women in rising to senior leadership positions within the company. “Our Co-founder and Chair of the Board, Leslie Cliff, has been a real proponent and champion for women,” Ward says. “While she has always believed in choosing the best person for the job, that person was often a woman.”

At 50% women on staff, Genus’s gender split differs greatly from industry averages. Better yet, our executive team is composed of 67% female executives, while women make up 44% of our shareholders and 25% of our board of directors. “Having women at every level of the company impacts how we communicate who we are, what we do and our values as a company,” Ward says. “And those things are attractive to women in finance because it’s so differentiated. We often hear from other firms that they don’t have a lot of women in general, and particularly on their executive teams, even though they try hard to find them. And yet,” she adds, “we don’t have to try hard to find women. Highly qualified women seem to find us.”

Our policy has always been to hire and promote the best person for the job, but the Genus difference may just be that we actively support our female team members in progressing all the way to the c-suite. “Mentoring younger women is part of what we believe in,” Ward says. “Particularly women in leadership positions.”

“It goes back to our three core values,” she adds, “which are fostering client success, innovation and openness to diversity of thought and opinion, and creating impact for all stakeholders. We are here to create positive impact, not only for shareholders, but also for our clients, communities and everyone we touch. And that is an approach that tends to attract high performing, talented women.”

A commitment to financial education

Another one of our core values is to help bridge the financial literacy gap that exists for women around the world. “Women are often reluctant to seek out financial information – even though the great wealth transfer will affect women first,” Ward says. “The fact is, they’ll be stewarding the bulk of the wealth before it’s passed down to the next generation.”

To that end, Genus publishes a wide variety of freely accessible educational content and insights on topics ranging from impact investing to family wealth management. We also offer free monthly webinars with portfolio managers as well as a host of external experts to fill in any gaps and offer specialized tips and strategies. “We work hard to empower our clients,” Ward says. “And we strive to create a safe space for women to have open conversations about these issues.”

For our clients, having access to free resources and expert-led education is an appealing value-add when choosing a wealth management firm. “I think we’re attractive as an asset management firm for many women, particularly those who feel they have not been taken seriously, or who have experienced being talked down to by their financial advisors,” Ward says. “Our Portfolio Managers treat everyone with respect, and we have women to serve other women if that is their preference.”

Screening for gender equality in our funds

For many years, Genus has offered responsible investing funds that screen out companies causing harm to people and the planet – fossil fuels, weapons, tobacco, alcohol, junk food and factory farming. Now we’re able to do the same for companies that don’t support gender equality.

Our gender equality screen removes companies with known gender discrimination or harassment, employee or labour discrimination, product safety issues for women, or customer discrimination. Basically, it excludes companies that contribute negatively to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #5: Gender Equality[1]. So all of our clients can invest confidently knowing they are supporting companies that also value gender equality.

Together, we’re changing the financial future for women locally – and around the world. And we hope you’ll join us.


  1. Staff, E. (2023) The most powerful women in finance 2023, American Banker. Available at: (Accessed: 20 February 2024).

  2. Ellingrud, K. et al. (2021) Closing the gender and race gaps in North American Financial Services, McKinsey & Company. Available at: (Accessed: 20 February 2024).

  3. Chandler, S. (no date) Why are so few women in finance? it’s complicated, Investopedia. Available at: (Accessed: 04 March 2024).

  4. Chandler, S. (no date) Why are so few women in finance? it’s complicated, Investopedia. Available at: (Accessed: 04 March 2024).

  5. Monticone, C. (no date) Home, Joining Forces for Gender Equality : What is Holding us Back? | OECD iLibrary. Available at: (Accessed: 20 February 2024).

  6. Goal 5 | Department of Economic and Social Affairs (no date) United Nations. Available at: (Accessed: 20 February 2024).


Client impact

“Graduating from a big bank to Genus was one of the best financial steps we've ever taken. Genus has delivered reliable asset growth despite our moderate risk tolerance. As our financial security has grown, we've also been the beneficiaries of a great client experience. The company's communications have been consistently transparent and informative, including educational webinars and a well-designed web portal where we can track investments daily. Most importantly to us, our portfolio manager has always responded swiftly and thoroughly to our questions and requests. ”
Martin T.
"Having relatively diverse financial goals and needs, along with a slight reticence regarding the stock market, Genus skillfully addressed all of our concerns, and put together a truly exceptional plan: Fossil free funds and a diversified investment portfolio, check; An effective Impact investment portfolio that coincides with our hopes and dreams for a better world, check; Professional advice and assistance to create a donor advised charitable fund with immediate charitable receipts for tax purposes, check. Returns? Way beyond our expectations! We even had some fun along the way and certainly enjoyed an incredible two-year start to what will be a satisfying long-term relationship with Genus."
Marc B.
“I love the service I get at Genus.”
Chris H.
“Leslie and I were fellow board members when we met twenty years ago. For the last ten she has been thoughtful in the construction of an investment strategy for my family and is executing the strategy as planned. The team at Genus has met my expectations and are a pleasure to deal with.”
Bob Q.
“For over 15 years, I have provided selection and performance evaluation of multiple investment managers for a significant family office. Leslie and Genus have been foundational for me in my role. I have always found Leslie and her colleagues to be insightful and proactive, and found the performance of their portion of the portfolio to be well above benchmarks. And they have been a great pleasure to work with.”
Douglas H.
“Genus is a very innovative firm. I am pleased to invest in their Fossil Free and Impact strategies that help me invest in line with my values.”
Marnie C.
“Great team of professionals. Excellent website and reporting. Responds to inquiries promptly. Very pleased with the process of changing from another company to Genus as well. Kudos.”
David L.
“Genus consistently provides a good, clearly explained, comprehensive picture of the general economic and financial situation, along with an excellent account of the investment decisions made in relation to this. Genus’ equally strong concern with clients’ questions and requests for further information is also a very important part of the service it provides.”
Allan S.
“Back in 1992 when I found myself at fifty with a substantial amount of money to invest, I knew just one thing — that I didn’t want to contribute to tobacco companies, arms manufacturers, or oil. But over the ensuing years the options for socially responsible investing have become far more sophisticated and I’m very happy that this is a big part of the Genus approach. I also very much appreciate the long-term relationship with my portfolio manager, Mary Lou.”
Ann P.

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