Impact Investing Case Study – Bright Horizons

3 min read 21 Dec 22

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Contributing to workplace gender equality through family support services

Bright Horizons was founded in 1986 in Massachusetts, to fill the gap facing working parents who needed reliable childcare. The company grew steadily over the following decades, establishing on-site and community-based day care centres for large corporate clients. Today its services include backup care, which also caters to the elderly, and college coaching and workforce education.

Bright Horizons provides services for more than 1,350 corporate clients, which includes over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies. It primarily operates in the US and Europe and will be entering the Australian market following its acquisition of Only About Children (OAC). The US remains one of its major markets where it has over 1,000 centres, making it six times larger than the number two player.

At its client sponsor centres, employers fund the capital expenditure, maintenance and development of the on-site premises at their offices, whilst Bright Horizons oversees the day-to-day running of the facility for a fee. As the client bears all the financial risk, this makes for a capital-light and cash generative business model, while providing convenience to working parents. Bright Horizons also operates lease consortium centres, where it builds its own facilities near offices or commuter areas, which are open to the community, back-up customers and a consortium of clients.

Bright Horizons has a positive impact on gender equality. The company’s services offer reliable childcare, which provides support to working parents, whilst their children are stimulated and taken care of in day-care centres. These services are essential to ensuring women continue to participate in the workforce and in leadership positions at the highest levels of society. It is vital in bringing about gender equality and curbing the trend of women exiting the workforce as they become mothers. The majority of its customers stem from sectors with some of the lowest levels of female representation at leadership level such as the healthcare and financial industries. With women now making up 50% of the workforce in the US, services provided by Bright Horizons reinforce female retention in the workplace. This directly contributes towards SDG 5: Gender equality and is supportive for economic growth.* In 2021, we estimate that Bright Horizons supported around 2.6 million women.  

In brief

  • Nationality: United States
  • Primary Sustainable Development Goal: SDG 5 Gender equality*
  • Operates more than 1,000 childcare centres across the United States, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Australia and India
  • Works with more than 1,350 corporate clients from a wide range of industries
  • Signs long-term contracts with clients, and offers a quality and scalability that are difficult to replicate
  • Improves gender equality in the workplace and provides children with access to quality education
  • We estimate that Bright Horizons reaches ~2.6 million women

*While we support the UN SDGs, we are not associated with the UN and our funds are not endorsed by them.

All company data sourced from Bright Horizons. Figures shown were latest available from company literature, as at July 2022.

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