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The state of ESG with American Century’s sixth global impact investing survey

Date: 28 Feb 2023

Silvia Ricciardi

American Century Investments’ sixth global impact investing survey shows that men’s growing interest in impact investing matches and outpaces women’s.

Despite a growing share of women across five countries reporting impact investing appeals to them, the sixth impact investing survey by the $218 billion global asset manager American Century Investments shows that a gender gap persists. Overall, the appeal of impact investing continued to rise across countries, except for the US. Results go back to 2016 in the United States, 2019 in the UK, 2020 in Germany, 2021 in Australia and 2022 in Singapore.

“The totality of our impact investing surveys shows the appeal has increased over the years across nations for men and women, baby boomers, Gen Xers and millennials,” said Sarah Bratton Hughes, senior vice president and head of sustainable investing for American Century Investments. “Even the populations whose interest lags other populations’ interest are making gains. This isn’t surprising, because the long-term drivers for sustainable investing remain strong, and that reaches all populations.”

Gender gap persists internationally – recent sustainability ‘backlash’ affects appetite for impact investing

The 2022 survey showed women find impact investing more appealing than in prior years. Interest grew five points among US women since 2018, seven points among UK women since 2019, 16 points among German women since 2020, and two points among Australian women since 2021.

However, as it has been each year, men’s interest in impact investing is higher than women’s. This gap is larger in Germany and Australia (12 points) and exists across all countries, including Singapore, where women’s interest (66%) is higher than US men (60%) and German men (57%) but lags Singaporean men (72%). The gap has been relatively unchanged in the US (eight points) and UK (seven points).

A question new to the survey this year reveals another gender gap: in all five countries, men were more likely than women to report the recent sustainability ‘backlash’ that impacted their appetite for impact investing. Yet the backlash’s impact on men was mixed: men in the UK, Australia and Germany reported a higher appeal in 2022 compared to 2021 while American men’s interest fell by three points. In Singapore, the recent sustainability backlash was more likely to affect men (57%) than women (49%) when it came to their appetite for impact investing in 2022.   

Geographic rankings shift with addition of Singapore and declining interest only in the US

Overall, the interest in impact investing rose seven points in Germany, six points in Australia and two points in the UK but fell five points in the US since 2021. Singapore’s addition to the survey shifted comparative rankings in 2022 by taking the top spot (69%). Displaced to number two (65%), UK respondents find impact investing much more appealing than their US (56%) and German counterparts (51%), who are much less likely to be familiar with impact investing. Notably, despite the strong interest and high familiarity with impact investing, nearly 60% of UK respondents believe greenwashing has increased.

The 2022 survey was conducted among a representative sample of 1,007 US adults, 1,004 UK adults, 1,003 adults in Germany, 1,005 adults in Australia and 1,002 adults in Singapore, 18 years of age and older from December 12-14, 2022 in the US and December 9–14, 2022 internationally. The study was fielded using Big Village’s Online CARAVAN Omnibus Survey. The results from the survey were weighted by age, sex, geographic region, race and education to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the adult US, UK, Germany, Singapore and Australia populations. For more information please visit www.americancentury.com.

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