Gender-lens investors are looking to direct their money to companies with more women on their boards and in management.
Greater gender diversity is related to higher stock performance, improved risk management and lower incidences of fraud, research shows.
It’s a small but growing focus in the environmental, social and governance investing movement: gender equity.
So-called gender-lens investing prioritizes companies with higher representation of women on their boards and in management positions, as well as those that score well on pay equity and other workplace policies that especially help women, such as generous paid leave plans.
“We’re seeing more investors, primarily women … looking to bring a gender lens to their portfolio,” said Kathleen McQuiggan, a financial advisor at Artemis in Boston.
Roughly $3.6 billion is invested in the more than two dozen mutual funds, exchange-traded funds and other equity products that zero in on this strategy, according to Parallelle Finance, a gender-lens research and advisory firm. That amount is just a sliver of the $330 billion invested in the broader category of ESG investing in the U.S., according to Morningstar.
Yet the amount flowing into these funds has grown steadily over the past five or so years due to an increased appetite from investors. The #MeToo movement and high-profile sexual harassment cases have contributed to the rising interest in supporting companies with greater representation of women or with policies that support gender equity.
Some gender-lens funds have performed well this year, while others have lagged. For example, the S&P 500 Index posted a 24% return through October, compared with 17.6% for the Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Leadership Fund, according to Morningstar Direct.
Saying something is gender-lens-focused doesn’t mean it won’t use investment criteria.
Nevertheless, “there is no reason to think you’ll underperform,” said Jon Hale, director of ESG strategy at Morningstar. “Saying something is gender-lens-focused doesn’t mean it won’t use investment criteria.”
What’s more, greater gender diversity at a company is related to higher share price performance, improved risk management and lower incidences of fraud, said Angela Atherton, principal of operations and strategy at Parallelle Finance.
“I personally believe the funds will outperform in the long run,” said McQuiggan, describing more women across firms’ workforce as “the secret ingredient for why you might want to own this fund instead of that fund.”
Eleven new gender-lens funds have popped up since 2018, including four in just the past year, according to Parallelle Finance.
In another sign of the strategy’s growth, the assets under management in the Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Leadership Fund — which is a forerunner in the space, dating back to 1993 — have doubled over the last 20 months, to nearly $1 billion from $500 million.
The fund, which requires a minimum investment of $1,000 and has an expense ratio of 0.78%, tracks some 400 companies by their representation of women on their board of directors and their transparency with gender diversity data, among other factors. More than a third of the fund’s firms have female CEOs, for example, compared with 17% of those in the MSCI World Index.
Beyond the bottom line, there may also be an element of advocacy to these gender-lens strategies.
“The impact we’re looking to address are cultural challenges that make it hard for underrepresented populations to thrive in their organizations,” said Nicole Connolly, portfolio manager of the Fidelity Women’s Leadership Fund, which looks for companies with at least one-third of their board seats held by women.
Women hold just a third of S&P 500 board seats today, and only 6% of the firms in the index are headed by women.
At investment manager Nia Impact Capital, pushing for gender equity is an ongoing endeavor.
The firm’s $470 million Global Solutions Equity Portfolio consists of 50 companies that not only have women in leadership positions but also offer products and services that are beneficial to women and girls (such as breast cancer research).
Nia votes all proxies, as well as talks to companies specifically about diversity, inclusion and gender issues, and shares best practices related to fair pay, diversity and recruiting techniques.
“We’re engaging actively with every company, bringing our investor voice as a right and responsibility as far as what the world needs,” said Kristin Hull, CEO and founder of Nia.
The portfolio comes with an investment minimum of $100,000 and is available as a separately managed account through trading platforms like Fidelity Investments or Charles Schwab, Hull said. The cost ranges from 0.7% to 1.5% of assets managed, depending on where the account is held and how much money you have invested.
In the end, investors can only do so much to improve the representation of women across corporate America, experts caution. They say legislation and regulation are also needed.
There’s been recent movement on those fronts too.
In August, the Securities and Exchange Commission approved Nasdaq’s rule for newly listed companies, which will require most of the firms to have at least two diverse board directors, or to explain why they don’t. The stock exchange operator found that more than three-quarters of its currently listed companies don’t meet that standard.
Meanwhile, a dozen states have passed legislation to improve diversity on boards, or are on their way to doing so.
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BREAKING: NNPC Sacks All Top Management Staff With Less Than 15 Months To Retire
As part of further reorganization for effective operations, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) has sacked top management staff who have less than 15 months to retire from the national oil company.
The development is coming days after the oil company announced the removal and replacement of three of the its Executive Vice Presidents (EVPs).
Those impacted by the previous shakeup included Abdulkabir Ahmed, who was hitherto in charge of gas, power and new energies; Adokiye Tombomieye, who headed the upstream segment as well as Adeyemi Adetunji, who was in charge of the downstream.
They were replaced by Olalekan Ogunleye as EVP gas, power and new energies; Oritsemeyiwa Eyesan for the company’s upstream operations, while Adedapo Segun took charge of the downstream.
In a brief statement Tuesday morning, the NNPC stated that the new reshuffling was in line with its aspiration to rejuvenate its workforce.
“In our bid to pursue effective organisational renewal to support the delivery of our strategic business objectives, it has become imperative to rejuvenate our workforce.
“Consequently, in addition to the recent exit of three executive vice presidents, other members of management staff with less than 15 months to statutory retirement will be exiting the company effective 19th September 2023,” the statement said.
The NNPC noted that the move was in line with its commitment to scale up its capabilities through targeted talent management and equal opportunity for all Nigerians.
BREAKING: Tinubu Nominates Cardoso As CBN Governor
President Bola Tinubu has nominated Dr. Olayemi Michael Cardoso as the new Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
A press statement by presidential spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, disclosed on Friday evening that Cardoso will serve for a term of five (5) years at the first instance, pending his confirmation by the Nigerian Senate.
“This directive is in conformity with Section 8 (1) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007, which vests in the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the authority to appoint the Governor and Four (4) Deputy Governors for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), subject to confirmation by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Furthermore, President Bola Tinubu has approved the nomination of four new Deputy Governors of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), for a term of five (5) years at the first instance, pending their confirmation by the Nigerian Senate,” he stated.
The new Deputy Governors include Mrs. Emem Nnana Usoro, Mr. Muhammad Sani Abdullahi Dattijo, Mr. Philip Ikeazor, and Dr. Bala M. Bello.
“In line with President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope agenda, the President expects the above listed nominees to successfully implement critical reforms at the Central Bank of Nigeria, which will enhance the confidence of Nigerians and international partners in the restructuring of the Nigerian economy toward sustainable growth and prosperity for all,” Ngelale stated.
We Help Nigerians Transform Their Dreams Of Studying Abroad Into Realities – Braimah
There is no gainsaying the fact that studying abroad opens doors to limitless opportunities. From getting a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of your desired choice of course – which positions you better than your peers – to the networking opportunities it provides, studying abroad can be the door to a better future.
On this premise, thousands of Nigerians dream of studying abroad and pursue that dream. Like every other dream for greatness, studying abroad is accompanied by several challenges including complex visa processes, financial constraints, and many more that often make some give up the dream or fail at it.
To help Nigerians, especially the youths, nurture their dreams of studying abroad, Redefined Consults Limited, a reputable educational consulting company with a team of dedicated and experienced travel professionals has helped many Nigerians process their applications seamlessly.
Having been in the global education competitive landscape for a while, Redefined Consults Limited understands the unique needs of its clients as well as the challenges that come with those needs, hence the need for a personalised approach to all applications they handle.
From choosing the right destination and university to advising on the courses that make application easy, up till the moment of obtaining a visa and settling into their new academic home, Redefined Consults makes it a core need to guide every client they have worked with through every step of the process.
The Founder and Team Lead, Redefined Consult Limited, Sheriff Braimah told our correspondent: “At Redefined Consults Limited, we recognise that education is not just about academics; it is also about personal growth and cultural enrichment. That is why we go beyond the conventional role of a consultancy firm. We are driven by a passion for excellence and a genuine desire to make a positive impact on the lives of individuals seeking quality education,”
He explained that the United Kingdom, Malta, Ireland, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, and China are some of the most sought-after travel destinations for Nigerians who desire to study abroad, and the educational consulting firm makes it a priority to research schools in these destinations, have a clear understanding of their requirements and provides the knowledge while helping them navigate the opportunities offered by each destination.
“With a core understanding of students’ recruitment, some of the services offered by our company include visa counseling and assistance to ensure a smooth and seamless process. Over the last three years, we have successfully helped more than 200 students achieve their dreams of studying abroad with the help of eight experts who are professionals and know their onions.
” If studying abroad is a dream you have had for a while but do not know how to pursue it or you have failed, Redefined Consult Limited is your hope to achieve that dream. With a proven track record of transforming study abroad dreams into reality, yours could be the next success story to tell,” Braimah added.
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