March 8, 2016 / 4:25 PM / 4 years ago

New U.S.-listed ETF focuses on companies with women CEOs, directors

NEW YORK (Reuters) - State Street Corp’s (STT.N) asset management unit on Tuesday launched a new exchange-traded fund that intends to focus on shares of U.S. companies that have more women in top-level management jobs and on corporate boards.

The SPDR SSGA Gender Diversity ETF (SHE.P) joins a growing number of investment approaches based on the premise that corporations that select more women to hold positions of authority also perform better by traditional business measures.

The index fund selects from the largest U.S. public companies, based on market capitalization, that disclose the greatest proportion of women in senior leadership and board-level positions.

As of Feb. 29, based on the fund’s selection criteria, it would have invested in 144 of the largest 1,000 U.S. stocks.

The top companies on that list are Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N), Home Depot Inc (HD.N), and Oracle Corp (ORCL.N), according to a disclosure of the fund’s holdings on Monday before it launched.

Russell 1000 .RUI companies with gender-diverse staff posted higher pretax margins, return on assets, return on invested capital and return on equity, according to UBS AG data last month.

Yet women hold just 4 percent of chief executive jobs at S&P 500 .SPX companies and one-fifth of the board seats, despite forming half of the labor force at the companies, according to 2015 data from Catalyst Inc, an advocacy group.

A range of investment managers are targeting similar themes, including funds like Barclays Women in Leadership ETN (WIL.P), the Glenmede Women in Leadership U.S. Equity-Large Cap (GWILX.O) mutual fund and Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund (PXWEX.O).

Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

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