Put your mutual fund money where your values are — that’s the aim of the newest investment tool from As You Sow, a nonprofit organization that focuses on environmental and social corporate responsibility within its portfolio of initiatives.
Striving to provide a more transparent, non-biased approach to investments, Gender Equality Funds is a free, online tool for individual and institutional investors to apply a “gender lens” to mutual funds. It is the fifth release of “Invest Your Values” screening tools from As You Sow.
Measuring against a database of 12 “gender equality performance indicators,” the tool screens 5,000 of the most commonly held U.S. mutual funds such as Vanguard, BlackRock and State Street against indicators which reveal a commitment to gender diversity, gender balance in overall leadership and management among other criteria.
The final result is a complete gender-equality portfolio score for each mutual fund to aid investors. Speaking of the timeliness of this tool, Andrew Behar, chief executive officer of As You Sow, reiterated a workplace discrepancy, “women comprise 47 percent of the workforce” but show less representation across executive leadership with only 4.8 percent of S&P 500 companies having female ceo’s.
As mentioned, the tool provides vital depiction of gender gaps in leadership and other items “hidden within the mutual funds” allowing more intentional capital investments — promoting companies that have policies and practices in place that promote gender equality.
Democratization is needed across investment forefronts, especially within mutual funds where the “bulk of wealth in the [U.S.] is invested,” according to Ruth Shaber, founder and president of Tara Health Foundation.
“If we want to democratize access to impact investing, we need to create tools for everyone, from individuals with 401(k)s to institutional investors with billions of dollars under management,” Shaber said.
With access to valuable insights as given through free tools, investors and companies can be increasingly “gender smart” about their investments in mutual funds.