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TMX POV - Women Making History in the Public Markets (2022 Edition)

TMX POV - Women Making History in the Public Markets (2022 Edition)

In honor of International Women's Day today and Women's History Month in the U.S., let's celebrate the record year 2021 was for women raising money in the North American public and private markets and consider what this means for women-owned and led businesses.

In the United States…

Last year, a record number of women-led companies completed their initial public offering (IPO) in the U.S. In February 2021, Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder and CEO of Bumble, led the charge as the youngest woman to bring a company public in the U.S. raising US$2.2 billion in its IPO. This was followed by several new listings of well known brands, including Jessica Alba's The Honest Company, 23andMe, Rent the Runway, FIGS and NextDoor.1

Other notable female-led U.S. IPOs were:

  • Vimeo CEO Anjali Sud was the first South Asian woman to list on Nasdaq1
  • Queen's Gambit Growth Capital, a female-led SPAC began trading on Nasdaq in January 2021, followed up by Queen's Gambit Growth Capital II with an all-female team which filed in February 20212
  • Athena Technology Acquisition Corp rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in March 2021 as the first all-women Special Purpose Acquisition Corporation to IPO on NYSE3
  • Brazilian digital bank Nubank, co-founded by Cristina Junqueira, went public on the NYSE, raising US$2.6B at a US$42B valuation1

Impressive certainly… but still a tiny percentage of the 470+ IPOs led by men last year.

In the private markets, a record US$330B was raised in venture capital (VC), with female-only teams raising $6.4B… also a record amount. However, as a percentage of the total VC dollars raised, women received just 2% - the lowest rate since 2016.4 This continues to be surprising and alarming considering the increased number of female-focused funds and data on the performance of female-led companies. One analysis showed that companies with the most gender-diverse executive teams are 25% more likely to achieve above-average profits than their less gender-diverse peers.5 It is interesting that the investment dollars are not yet flowing to these profitable companies.

In Canada…

Women-led companies on Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) and TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV) raised CDN$1.6B in 2021, up significantly from CDN$488M in 2020.6 Notable highlights of new listings and financings last year include:

  • Judi Hess led Copperleaf Technologies' CDN$161M IPO on TSX in October (TSX:CPLF)
  • Julia Stamberger and her all-female executive team in Chicago completed The Planting Hope Company's IPO on TSXV in November raising CDN$10M (TSXV:MYLK)
  • Zoe Krislock closed the Qualifying Transaction on TSXV of MiniLuxe Holding Corp based in Massachusetts, raising CDN$10M (TSXV:MNLX)
  • Crypto mining company Hut 8 Mining raised CDN$411M; Jamie Leverton, CEO (TSX:HUT)
  • Cannabis company OrganiGram Holdings raised CDN$221M; Beena Goldenberg, CEO (TSX:OGI)
  • Exro Technologies graduated from TSXV to TSX in July; Sue Ozdemir, CEO (TSX:EXRO)

Again… encouraging but a long way to go to be in balance with the new listings and financings let by male CEOs in the Canadian markets.

Interestingly, from a performance perspective… similar to the data we are seeing in the private markets, the TSX and TSXV companies with women CEOs also continue to outperform the indices, as tracked in the last two years.6

2020 Price Return2021 Price Return
S&P/TSX Composite Index^ 19% 22%
TSX Issuers with a Woman CEO 69% 25%
S&P/TSXV Composite Index^ 52% 7%
TSXV Issuers with a Woman CEO 76% 16%

Note: Companies had to be listed for a full year to be included in the calculation.

Gender Lens Investing Impacting Investor Demand

One of the primary drivers for what and who gets funded in the public and private markets will always be investor demand. Most recently, one driver of increased public funding into women-led companies is the growing trend of Gender Lens Investing (GLI).

According to the Global Impact Investing Network, Gender Lens Investing is a strategy or approach to investing that takes into consideration gender-based factors across the investment process to advance gender equality and better inform investment decisions.8 There are several ways to use gender as an investment filter, but the three primary considerations that have the intent to address gender issues or promote gender equity are:

  • Investing in women-owned or women-led enterprises
  • Investing in enterprises that promote workplace equity (in staffing, management, boardroom representation, and along their supply chains); or
  • Investing in enterprises that offer products or services that substantially improve the lives of women and girls8

Prior to 2012, there were very few gender lens strategies in the public markets. By 2019, there were over 50 GLI products totaling US$3.4B in assets. One 2020 report found US$1.01T in US institutional investor AUM that took gender lens issues into consideration (as December 31, 2019), up 16% from $868 billion two years prior (US$397 billion in 2016).7

And more recently, Gender Smart, a global field-building initiative dedicated to unlocking the deployment of strategic, impactful gender-smart capital at scale, released the "Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (JEDI) Investing Toolkit" to address investment's role in dismantling systemic racism and other forms of inequity beyond gender.9

This increased focus and return on investing opportunity will hopefully result in more investment dollars going toward women-led businesses, especially those by women of color.

And so…

The positive trends we saw in the increased number of women-led IPOs and funding toward women-owned businesses is encouraging… however it comes with a massive "but"... as it is still disheartening, and somewhat illogical, to see how little progress has actually been made in the last year. Bringing it back to celebrating International Women's Day, the United Nations theme for this day for 2022 is "Gender equality today for a sustainable future"10 pointing to the necessity of gender equality in all aspects of society, including the financial markets.

There are so many reasons why there is still minimal access to substantial capital for women at all levels of the funding ecosystem, including conscious and unconscious gender bias. I have previously commented on the challenges women entrepreneurs face in accessing every stage of growth capital… whether from the critical friends and family round (which is near impossible if you don't have access to networks of wealthy individuals), all the way up to the later stage venture capital rounds to get to the stage that the company is large enough to go public. And this doesn't take into consideration all of those companies (most companies) that will never be VC or IPO-eligible. How are those women-led companies getting funded?

The reality is that this is a systemic wide issue that will likely take at least another generation to shift in a meaningful way.

The good news is that there are more funding models and funds focused on meeting the needs of women and especially women of color, which is a start. But the significant capital beyond the pre-seed and seed rounds has yet to flow to women. Very few women-focused funds have raised over $100M… which means they can still only invest at the early stages. And because of human nature and people's natural tendency to invest in who and what we know… we need more women investing in women in a meaningful way. Innovative funding models from organizations such as SheEO and Portfolia, and emerging GLI and impact investing products are encouraging steps in the right direction.

Let's hope that these trends in women taking their companies public and investors looking to invest with a gender lens continues, not just for better financial but also environmental and social impacts, as well. To see more of these success stories, we need to consider the funding needs of all female entrepreneurs at all levels of the funding ecosystem - from angel investors to favorable debt options to venture capitalists to the public markets.

In the meantime, congratulations to these pioneering ladies in the public markets! Hopefully this profile and capital injection will lead to greater success by women-led public companies and ultimately generate sustainable wealth and companies for a positive impact.


  • Learn more about The Planting Hope Company's listing on the newly launched TMX Presents: The Podcast as my U.S. colleague George Khalife talks to Julia about her company's vision and using TSXV to get there. "Being a listed company does so much for us, but two things it is particularly helpful for is it allows us to raise capital when we see a strategic opportunity that makes sense. By having the fuel to take our brands to the next level, we're able to put the distribution, awareness and resources to build world-class products rather than being constrained by capital needs in other situations. The second big piece is that all of our retail buyers are consumers, and we're in an interesting position whereby retail investors can be consumers as well as advocates of the product." Julia Stamberger, CEO, The Planting Hope Company (TSXV:MYLK) 
  • For the 8th consecutive year, TMX Group participated in the Ring the Bell for Gender Equality Initiative alongside over 100 exchanges to foster greater gender equality and highlight the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace.
  • Innovation Canada interviewed TSX Trust President and CEO Claire Johnson to get her insights on women and leadership and learn more about how TSX Trust is empowering women.

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Delilah Panio

Vice President, U.S. Capital Formation, Toronto Stock Exchange and TSX Venture Exchange

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6 Market Intelligence Group, TMX Group





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