LONDON — UBS launched a fund on Monday that invests in firms which promote gender equality to cash in on a growing trend towards ethical investment.
The Swiss bank will launch a Global Gender Equality exchange-traded fund (ETF) which invests in the Solactive Equileap Global Gender Equality 100 Leaders index, a new index of 100 firms which best promote gender equality internationally.
The fund launched amid renewed global interest in the gender pay gap, which stood at 9.4% for full-time employees in the UK in 2016, according to the Office for National Statistics. On 1 January, Iceland became the first country to introduce legislation requiring employers to prove they offer equal pay regardless of factors including gender.
On Sunday, BBC China editor Carrie Gracie resigned after learning her male peers were earning up to 50% more than her.
Research has also linked gender diversity to better stock returns. A recent note from UBS Wealth Management analysed profitability metrics for companies in the FTSE Developed World Index, and found companies with higher-than-average proportions of women on the board had higher returns than less gender-diverse peers.
The index also tracks 18 other diversity criteria, including equal compensation, work-life balance, transparency and accountability.
The ETF is a joint collaboration between UBS Asset Management and UBS Wealth Management.
Rachel Whittaker, sustainable investing strategist at UBS Wealth Management's chief investment office said: "Our research indicates that gender-diverse companies tend to outperform on various profitability measures.
"We believe these findings support approaches to gender lens investing that take into account diversity at all levels of the organization as well as in leadership positions."