Investors, who want to see a better gender balance in the workforce, may want to consider putting their money in gender and diversity funds, which screen for certain characteristics — such as women in leadership.
These are funds that invest in companies with a record of measuring and improving workplace diversity and equal pay for equal work.
According to the investment research company Morningstar, there are 14 U.S. funds — exchange-traded and mutual funds — that fall into the gender and diversity sustainable investing category. Ten funds provided by Calvert Research and Management consider gender and diversity investment criteria together with other environment, social and governance priorities.
Four other funds primarily consider gender and diversity: Glenmede Women in Leadership U.S. Equity Portfolio, Impact Shares YWCA Women’s Empowerment ETF, Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Leadership Fund and State Street’s SPDR SSGA Gender Diversity Index ETF.
Fund managers are betting that, with the right company selection, their funds can outperform and appeal to investors.
Pax World Funds’ women-focused fund became an index-based mutual fund in 2015. Prior to that, it was an actively managed fund. Today, it has about $318 million in assets.
The fund managers evaluate companies by building an index using these five criteria: board diversity, diversity of upper management, CEO gender, CFO gender, and endorsement and implementation of the Women’s Empowerment Principles of the United Nations.
Julie Gorte, senior vice president for sustainable investing at Impax Asset Management and Pax World Funds said that they would love to include other parameters — such as gender pay ratio or the gender makeup of the workforce. However, much of that data is not publicly available.
Pax’s fund comes up with an index of about 400 companies after ranking them in the MSCI World Index based on gender criteria. The fund’s current top holdings include Microsoft, Ulta Beauty, Intuit, Estee Lauder and American Water Works.
According to Dan Lefkovitz, index strategist at Morningstar, “companies that score well for gender criteria also tend to be competitively positioned well,” “financially healthy and they tend to be less volatile than their peers.”