Kurt Summers

Government in Action

The 100% Project is an all-in, all-out effort to achieve gender equity in the Chicago region within our lifetimes. It is a grassroots, Chicago-wide call for 100 percent participation from every member of the community; 100 percent collaboration among public and private entities; 100 percent engagement in the shared work of ending gender bias in our region.

This means engaging men in leadership positions in the private and public sectors to join the movement as Male Champions of Change.

Male Champions of Change are influential leaders in their communities who publicly demonstrate their commitment to gender equity, serving as role models and helping to advance women’s equity.

Over a dozen men have signed on as partners in The 100% Project. They come from every industry: finance, the arts, nonprofit, tech, venture capital, and government.

Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers has seen first hand the gender bias women face in business. While working at his family business, Summers found that questions were often addressed to him instead of his mother, who was the business’ owner and CEO.

How does Kurt Summers create opportunity for women + girls in Chicago? #TakeActionwithCFW Share on X

As the city’s chief investment officer – the treasurer’s office manages all of the cash and investments for the City of Chicago, the four City employee pension funds, and the Chicago Teacher’s Pension Fund – Summers is keenly aware of the economic costs of gender bias, and is focused on increasing the number of women both receiving investments, and making them.

Summers was one of the first leaders to step up as a Champion of Change. He shared what motivates him to make gender equity a priority in his role as Treasurer with CFW:

CFW: What does being a Male Champion of Change mean to you?
KAS: Ending gender bias and gender inequality is something that has been a focus of mine in both the private and public sector. As Chicago’s Treasurer, I can tell you that we are negatively impacting our economy if women are not given the same opportunities as men. The Chicago Treasurer’s Office is constantly working with all components of city government to ensure that women-owned and minority-owned service providers and contractors are engaged in the work we do.

During my time at Grosvenor Capital Management, I was charged with helping support strategy and business development but most importantly, creating the firm’s first investment fund that focused on minority- and women-managed hedge funds. I saw a market with tremendous opportunity and a market that wasn’t accessed because of bias. Women and minorities make up 70% of the population, but minority- and women-managed hedge funds only make up 4% of the industry. It’s unacceptable, and those minority- and women-managed firms have a consistent and empirical track record of outperforming the broader marketplace in every hedge fund strategy. A demographic that represents 70% of our population should be managing more than 4% of our assets.

CFW: What actions are you taking to support women and girls in local government/ the Treasurer’s Office, or in the City of Chicago?
KAS: Integrating more women into every level of government is a priority for me. We have an incredibly diverse team at the Treasurer’s Office and currently, four women are on my leadership team, each of whom I rely upon to fulfill my duties to the City of Chicago. I am dedicated to ensuring that our office is a reflection of the communities and citizens we serve.

CFW: What can be done to encourage men and boys to become a key part of the movement toward gender equity?
KAS: We must be mindful about the language we use day-to-day with our youth and as men, we need to be available and open for discussions with family members, colleagues and friends that address language and behaviors that we may not realize are discriminatory.

CFW: What steps should men in leadership positions take to close the gender gap?
KAS: Men in leadership positions need to make concerted efforts in diversifying the employees leading their organizations. A McKinsey study notes that companies with the highest gender diversity, as compared to the industry average, see a much higher return on equity, a higher operating result, and a stronger stock price growth. It is imperative for executives to work with their HR departments to ensure that their organization is attracting female talent and developing plans for career growth.