Gender Equality

Globally, fewer women than men participate in the formal economy, women earn less than men and have fewer assets and economic opportunities.

Norfund is committed to addressing gender equality in our own organisation, in our investments, and through Business Support and external communications. Norfund was one of the first development finance institutions to develop a Gender Strategy in 2016.

Norfund’s strategy for gender equality and women’s economic participation has three objectives:

  1. To ensure equal opportunities and promote gender balance across all levels in Norfund
  2. To promote equal opportunities for men and women across all levels in investee companies and through access to finance 
  3. To engage with relevant stakeholders to learn and influence others to promote gender equality

Gender Position Paper

1. Gender equality in our own organisation

When addressing gender equality, Norfund recognises the importance of starting with our own organisation. Diversity is key for Norfund, as it gives us insight and helps us better to understand opportunities and risk. In recruitment and hiring processes, Norfund actively seeks gender balance and diversity by inviting candidates from all genders. At the level of management, Board and Investment Committee the same standard is applied. The Norfund Management team additionally reviews potential salary gaps every year, striving for equality between the genders.

2. Gender equality in portfolio companies

Non-discrimination forms an integral part of the IFC Performance Standards. By adhering to these standards in our investment process, Norfund actively promotes gender equality. In addition, by investing in financial institutions, Norfund contributes to increased access to capital – for both men and women – which promotes entrepreneurship and self-employment.

Leadership and boardroom competence

Norfund has noted that women are underrepresented at management level in many of our investee companies and on corporate boards. To encourage increased female leadership, Norfund supports portfolio companies in sending female talents to the Female Future Programme, part of the Norfund Business Support Programme.

The Female Future Programme is a leadership and boardroom competence development programme created by the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO). The programme was established in Norway in 2003 and has since been rolled out to other countries in cooperation with national employers’ organisations.

Entrepreneurship training

Supporting women’s entrepreneurship is another priority area for Norfund. We have provided funding from our Business Support Program to support Equity Bank’s Entrepreneurship program for a second year. The training program facilitates the growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises. Norfund requires at least 50 percent of participants to be women or women-owned enterprises.

Data collection and Gender analysis

Every year, we collect data on the gender balance of our portfolio companies. This enables us to perform gender analyses at investee and portfolio level and helps us to create awareness, both internally and externally. Gender balance varies in different investment areas, and data show that Financial Institutions and Funds typically have a better gender balance than the investment areas of Clean Energy and Scalable Enterprises.

Norfund has benchmarked data from our investee companies in energy, financial institutions and funds and compared these to global trends in these sectors. The benchmarking exercise showed that the gender balance in our investee companies is in general either the same as the average level in these sectors or better.

Statistics from portfolio companies in 2019 below:

3. Gender equality in the wider society

Norfund also contributes by sharing best practice, exchanging ideas and experiences with non-governmental organisations and participating in public debates.

Norfund meets frequently with other DFIs to discuss gender strategies, share lessons learned and discuss approaches for raising awareness internally and with partners. We address gender equality through our work with the European Development Finance Institutions (EDFI). Since 2018, Norfund has been a part of the Gender Finance Collaborative (GFC). The aim of the GFC is to be a committed and collaborative DFI working group to leverage combined capital, capacity, networks and knowledge.