You’ve heard the saying “invest in people” — but do you use it when you save for retirement?

Brenda Hoffman (BA ’86) says that the public increasingly wants to invest in companies that hire diverse leaders. Now stock markets are taking a closer look at these organizations, and they’re offering baskets of stocks that include companies with women in the top roles.

“It’s statistically proven that organizations withBrenda Hoffman women in executive leadership positions have a better return on investment, better profitability and better revenue growth,” she says. “It’s become a hot topic for companies and investors.”

Brenda is the Senior Vice President, Head of Global Technology U.S. Markets Systems and Global Information Services at NASDAQ. She’s worked in global stock exchanges for nearly 30 years, driving technology and innovation in capital markets worldwide.

“If I’d said 30 years ago that investors were going to want to see women in leadership roles, people wouldn’t have believed me. But now, it’s so important for organizations to demonstrate that diversity.”



Redefining the status quo

 

Champions of gender equity, both female and male, played important roles in Brenda’s own career. That’s one of the reasons why she serves as a member of the UN Women’s Global Innovation Coalition for Change (GICC) — an international committee that aims to improve innovation and technology work for young women and girls.

 

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Be bold and be brave. Companies want individuals who are energized by challenge and innovation.

Brenda Hoffman, Senior Vice President, Head of Global Technology U.S. Markets Systems and Global Information Services, NASDAQ
 

“I’m a very strong advocate of both gender diversity and women in innovation, so I threw my hand up to represent NASDAQ on the GICC,” she says. “This group of women is one set of fire crackers; they’re doing amazing things to drive change in industries around the world.”

She says that while the capital markets have made strides in creating opportunities for women, there’s still room for improvement. “It’s about making sure you have the right mix of diversity and the right level of leadership for the women in your organization. That level may be different for different companies, but it needs to be better than zero. Once you start to get women in leadership roles, people definitely see the value.”


Brenda Hoffman (centre) speaks at Waterloo alumni event in New York City

Brenda Hoffman (centre) speaks at an alumni event in New York City.


Building gender equity in the technology sector also means encouraging girls and women to study the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) — but Brenda, who earned her degree in economics, says that it’s important to be open to unexpected career paths as well.

“You don't necessarily have to have studied computer science to hold a leadership role in this industry,” she says. “We need women who are tech-thinkers, and we also need leaders with complementary styles. Be bold and be brave. Companies want individuals who are energized by challenge and innovation.”