Addressing Gender Disparities

by | Mar 2, 2020 | Commentary

At Syntrinsic, we applaud many of the nonprofit organizations who address the gender disparities in our society and create opportunities to empower, build community, and educate women and girls.

In celebration of Women’s History Month in March and in recognition of the accomplishments of the Colorado Women’s Chamber 2020 Top 25 Most Powerful Women , we highlight four nonprofit organizations that are intentionally seeking to address gender disparities: the Women’s Foundation of Colorado,, AJL Foundation, and the Sheltering Arms Foundation. While we have the privilege of working with so many phenomenal nonprofits, these four organizations were created by strong women to use their grant-making and investment strategies to tackle the three most commonly addressed gender lenses: workplace equity, access to capital, and products and services that benefit women and our communities. was founded in 1997 by Dr. Anita Borg, a computer scientist, who envisioned a future where people who imagine and build technology mirror the people and societies for whom they build it. has created programs and events across the globe including the annual Grace Hopper Celebration, the largest gathering of female technologists. Their social enterprise supports women in technical fields, as well as the organizations that employ them and the academic institutions training the next generation. 

In 1987, a small group of women in Colorado came together in support of gender equity and created The Women’s Foundation of Colorado (WFCO). As the only community foundation in the state focused on women’s economic advancement, WFCO uses the power of community and philanthropy to create impact through research, grant-making, and public policy. WFCO maximizes its donors’ investments by offering a 100% gender lens portfolio.

Amy and John Lawton believed that every person deserves respect and opportunity to be empowered to improve their life. Through grant-making, the AJL Foundation invests in people and programs that benefit’s Colorado’s youth and their families. The AJL Foundation’s grant-making recently included creating a fund to provide Black women in Colorado access to capital and mentorship.

In the late 1800s, Minnesota’s first Episcopalian Deaconess, Sister Annette Relf, realized that more needed to be done to help care for Minnesota’s youngest and most vulnerable children. As a result, she founded an orphanage which later became The Sheltering Arms Foundation. To honor the Deaconess’ legacy, the Trustees of The Sheltering Arms Foundation have always been women. These women have continued to invest in Minnesota’s children and their families through grant-making and public policy work.

In conjunction with their programmatic work and grant-making, these four organizations also are evaluating and in many cases implementing multiple investment strategies to address gender disparities by concentrating on women’s workplace equity, providing access to capital for women, and investing in products and services that support women. More specifically, The Women’s Foundation of Colorado and AJL Foundation through their investment dollars are advocating for equal pay, family-friendly work policies, and gender diversity on corporate boards and executive management. In addition, both foundations are supporting companies that are “best in class” based on scoring for issues such as climate change, human capital and labor management, corporate governance, privacy, data security, among others.

All four of these organizations are evaluating the diversity of their investment managers, recognizing that within asset management, women and minorities are dramatically underrepresented. These institutional investors hope that providing access to capital can change those statistics and expand the pool of talented investment managers available to investors, regardless of gender and race. Rather than seeing this effort to identify more diverse investment management teams as a financial sacrifice, these investors recognize that diverse teams have proven to add value . Thus, such efforts are not charity; rather, they represent an intentional effort to shift the landscape while also focusing on compelling bottom-line results.

Syntrinsic is fortunate to serve organizations committed to a wide range of sectors — from economic development to media, human services to education, early childhood to senior care — and much in between . We look forward to sharing more stories from our experiences with those on the front lines empowering our community and those who make such work possible.