Responsible Investor announces Gender Equity Investment awards shortlist

The award winners will be announced at RI USA in New York on 15 November.

Gender discrimination and inequality in corporate life concept. Vector of one businessman balancing three businesswomen on a scale. Sex inequality symbol.

Responsible Investor is delighted to announce that it will host the first Gender Equity Investment awards on 15 November at RI USA in New York.

The awards have shortlisted 10 mutual funds based on their official SEC-reported holdings for their intentional gender focus and their measurable performance of investing in firms with high gender equity among top executives.

The initiative has been co-ordinated in personal capacity by Andreas Hoepner, full professor at the University College Dublin and head of data science hub at the EU Platform on Sustainable Finance, and Marlene Timberlake D’Adamo, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.

Hoepner and D’Adamo will co-chair the judging panel, which also includes Anita Bhatia, former UN Women deputy executive director; Patience Marime-Ball, CEO of Women of the World Endowment; Maria Lettini, CEO of US SIF; Bill Mills, CEO of consulting boutique KPX Global; Fiona Reynolds, former CEO of the Principles for Responsible Investment; Steffen Scheuble, CEO of German index provider Solactive; and Helena Viñes Fiestas, chair of the EU Platform for Sustainable Finance.

Hoepner told RI: “Having served in a diversity-supporting role before, I learned the hard way that the quest for gender diversity proxied by headcount is a slow path, while the quest for gender equity measured in terms of decision-making power can feel illusive at times.

“So when I learned about the technology opportunity to monitor thousands of mutual funds every week on weighted average executive gender power I spoke to Marlene and the idea to launch awards for mutual fund leaders was born.”

The shortlisted funds for 2023 are:

  • Abrdn US Sustainable Leaders Fund
  • Calvert US Large-Cap Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Index ETF
  • ESG Large Cap Core Fund (Trillium Asset Management)
  • Fidelity Sustainable US Equity Fund
  • Fidelity Women’s Leadership Fund
  • Impact Shares YWCA Womens Empowerment ETF
  • Impax Ellevate Global Women’s Leadership Fund
  • SPDR MSCI USA Gender Diversity ETF
  • Women in Leadership US Equity Portfolio (Glenmede Investment Management)

Awards methodology

For the award criteria, the methodology looked at all funds sold in the US that reference gender in the fund name or, in the case of an ESG/sustainable equivalent fund, have a gender-screening component. Only funds with a minimum $10 million in AUM were considered.

In addition, the funds with the highest weighted average “gender power” – expressed as the percentage of shares held by female executives in relation to the shares held by all executives – were shortlisted.

“It is the closest we could come up with as a fair metric, and much more accurate than just looking and the female headcount on a board,” said Hoepner. “A board is part-time, whereas the executive committee works full-time.”

The judging committee will receive the funds ranked by their gender power with the relevant fund documentation enclosed.

“The judges add the qualitative perspective. It is virtually impossible to assess additionality at this stage purely on a metric basis, or on screening of statements of internationality,” Hoepner noted.