Equileap newest gender equity report launches at event hosted at BlackRock

Gender equality data nonprofit Equileap unveiled a new report earlier this year on U.S. companies and their healthcare benefits — including maternal healthcare and family planning benefits.

Equileap cofounders Jo Andrews and Diana van Maasdijk presented the takeaways at a reception hosted at the San Francisco office of BlackRock, the world’s largest institutional asset manager. Attendees to the launch represented the intersection of the finance, reproductive health and philanthropy spaces. David Johnson, director at BlackRock, which has $5.8 trillion in assets under management, welcomed guests and underlined the company’s commitment to gender equality.

The report, which covers the S&P 100 companies, marks the first time two healthcare indicators have been added to the organization’s criteria, measuring access to health insurance for employees, as well as access to contraception, abortion, choice in care provider and local access. Their findings, which named GM, Bank of America and Johnson & Johnson as top scorers on the gender equality index, were subsequently covered by Fortune, CNBC and other publications.

At BlackRock’s offices, Tara Health Foundation president Ruth Shaber spoke about the foundation’s commitment to using evidence-backed standards to measure and track progress in gender equality in the workplace. In particular, she stressed the importance of ensuring investors have access to good data as part of the foundation of building the field of gender lens investing.

The Tara Health Foundation funded Equileap in 2017 and 2018, providing grants to help strengthen the Equileap Gender Equality Scorecard with additional criteria on women’s health and reproductive rights at U.S. corporations.

“It really starts with data and if you don’t know what is good, it’s never going to get better.” Shaber told the audience. “When we looked at the data that investors were using, we found it was wholly inadequate for subject areas like supply chains, communities, public equity strategy — instead, most of the data available was limited to that of female representation on boards and executive teams. We wanted to see data that was much more robust.”

Speakers underscored the importance of making high-quality, evidence-backed gender equality data available to investors. The economic potential for women’s empowerment is substantial: one study found that parity in employment rates for women could boost global GDP by $28 trillion  to the GDP by 2025.

“We cannot change what we cannot measure,” Equileap’s van Maasdijk said.