SSGA launches gender diversity ETF

Mar 8th, 2016 | By | Category: Equities

State Street Global Advisors (SSGA), the asset manager behind the SPDR exchange-traded funds line-up, has launched a new ETF that invests in companies that are leaders in advancing women through gender diversity on their boards of directors and in senior leadership positions. Aptly launched on International Women’s Day, the SPDR SSGA Gender Diversity Index ETF (NYSE Arca: SHE) is offered to investors who want to access the potential benefits of gender diverse leadership and meaningful social change, while maintaining core US large-cap exposure.

SSGA launches gender diversity ETF

Clockwise from top left: Ginni Rometty, Chairwoman, President and CEO of IBM; Indra Nooyi, Chairwoman and CEO of PepsiCo; Meg Whitman, President and CEO of Hewlett Packard; and Marissa Mayer, President and CEO of Yahoo.

The ETF will track the SSGA Gender Diversity Index, which currently comprises 144 stocks from the largest 1,000 listed companies in the US, based on the number of women at the CEO, board or senior leadership levels. It is the first SSGA to be linked to a proprietary in-house index.

James Ross, executive vice president and global head of SPDR ETFs at SSGA, said in a statement: “SHE is designed to offer investors an opportunity to access the potential benefits of gender diverse leadership and seeks to drive meaningful social change while maintaining core US large cap exposure….. As the first SPDR ETF to use a proprietary SSGA Index, SHE highlights a path for future innovative products that improve access to unique solutions for investors.”

The index was launched on the back of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System’s (CalSTRS), which addresses gender diversity in corporate America, especially for women in leadership positions.

According a study that explored global trends in gender diversity on corporate boards between 2009 and 2015, from MSCI last year, companies with at least three female board members outperformed others in overall return on equity by more than 36%. American women currently account for an average of just 16% of executive team members.

“Closing the gender gap requires strengthening gender diversity and inclusion practices across corporate America,” said Alison Quirk, chief global human resources and corporate citizenship officer at State Street.

“We believe that the root causes of biases that influence women being underrepresented at the most senior levels of executive and board leadership develop at an early age. We want to empower girls to take their place in business leadership, especially in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) industries that will be in high demand for the next 10 to 20 years. By paying it forward through the charitable contribution, we can build a better future.”

In a bid to help boost gender diversity, SSGA has pledged to direct a portion of its revenue to non-profit organisations that help develop girls as leaders in business and science.

The ETF has been listed on the NYSE Arca and has an expense ratio of 0.20%.

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