My name is Suzanne Biegel. I’m the co-founder of the Gender-smart Investing Summit and I’m Chief Catalyst at Catalyst at Large.
What have been the challenges and discoveries of the lockdown period?
Lockdown for me has been hard but nowhere near as hard as it’s been for so many of my colleagues and friends and family around the world. I feel really lucky to be safe, to be healthy, to have good food. We’ve been doing a lot of cooking. But nonetheless, really really challenging.
What are your hopes and visions for social finance, in light of the pandemic and other recent events?
I think this has been a moment where people are realising first of all that Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) funds are dramatically outperforming the market, and there’s been a huge inflow of capital. I think we’ve been noticing women around the world who are taking leadership positions and people are asking: “But where are the women in finance”? And it’s a moment where those extraordinary actors in our community that are women, and especially women of colour, this is a moment to really step forward and be taking the seat at the table, which has not often been available.
What was your intention behind starting Women in Social Finance?
The role of Women in Social Finance in all of this – and you know we started this group in 2011 – is to be able to make visible those extraordinary women who are leaders, who have the expertise, who have the experience, who have been working – whether it’s in big banks, financial sector intermediaries, managing funds, deploying capital in a variety of different places – to really be using their voices, Furthermore, to be letting each other know about boards and management positions and investment committees and opportunities to influence policy. So, all the things that we set out to do: to support each other, to lift each other up, to make each other visible, to improve our own capacity. None of us has everything we need, but collectively we are such a powerful support network for each other.
What item or items have helped get you through lockdown?
I had to pick 3 different objects to say what was important to me during lockdown.
Number 1 – my phone (and my laptop goes along with it). 4 billion people on the planet still don’t have access. We need to fix that. That’s number one.
Number 2. (Holds up a wooden spoon). We’ve been doing a huge amount of cooking. That’s been the thing that’s kept me sane.
And then 3. Caren Holzman, Chair of Women in Social Finance, turned me on to this beautiful mask maker. They sell them in packs of 5, they’re absolutely beautiful, and I think this is an indispensable part of lockdown.