There’s a brand new way for everyone to be investing in women—literally. About two weeks ago, Barclays British multinational bank decided to offer customers the opportunity to invest in companies with women in leadership; part of an expanding effort to create “socially valuable” investment options for customers.
The new ETNs (exchange-traded notes) track a “Women in Leadership” (WIL) index of 85 US-based companies with women CEOs or companies whose board of directors have at least a quarter female representation. Many are giants in the corporate world: think General Motors, IBM, PepsiCo, Verizon, General Electric and Pfizer.
Socially-responsible investment options are on the rise. Ian Merrill of Barclays says, “We’ve seen the evolution of socially responsible investing go from ‘no tobacco’ to ‘no firearms’ to ‘green/environmental.’ Credit Suisse tracks company performance for those that have LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) friendly policies.”
However, some are skeptical about these values-based funds. Dave Nadig, chief investment officer at ETF.com, a company that provides research and analysis of exchange-traded funds, isn’t so sure. “People usually don’t think the same way about their values when making investment decisions … They don’t put that filter on when thinking about their portfolios,” Nadig explains.
Other firms have created similar investment opportunities to fund companies with women at the top. The trend stems from third-party research showing that companies with more gender diversity in leadership can perform better than companies with less gender-diversity. Barbara Byrne of Barclays notes, “Increasingly, investors are looking for social value—to use their investments as a vote or as a way to make a statement.”
What do you think about “values-based” investment options? Would you align your investment portfolio with your beliefs? Tweet us and let us know your thoughts.