Driving Gender Diversity with a Bold New Statement

As a 21-year veteran of the financial services industry and Head of the Strategic Relationship Group for SPDR® ETFs, I’ve had the privilege of attending countless industry events and conferences over the years. These events bring a range of talented executives together to share ideas and inspire change. Yet, I’m often struck by the lack of women in attendance, with men generally outnumbering women by a wide margin.

It’s time to improve gender diversity in corporate America. Promoting leadership opportunities for women in financial services, and all industries, provides companies with new perspectives and approaches that may lead to better business results.

To celebrate International Women's Day, State Street Global Advisors offered a new symbol of women in leadership. Standing strong and confident, a new iconic landmark arrives in the one place no one can ignore—New York City's financial district. Watch her take her place
in the video below:

Studies have shown that companies with more women in senior leadership roles may perform better than their less gender-diverse peers. Specifically, companies with strong female leaders have generated higher return on equity. In fact, an MSCI study showed that companies with strong female leadership generated a return on equity of 10.1% per year versus 7.4% for those without a critical mass of women at the top, a 36.4% increase of average return on equity.1

Despite such compelling findings, corporate America continues to lack gender-diverse leadership. That’s why we have made it our mission to remind businesses of the value of gender diversity.

Last year, we created the SSGA Gender Diversity Index and SPDR SSGA Gender Diversity Index ETF (SHE) to demonstrate our support for advancing women through gender diversity in senior leadership positions. The fund invests in US large-capitalization companies that rank among the highest in their sector in achieving gender diversity across senior leadership. SHE offers a means to invest in companies that have demonstrated greater gender diversity within their sector, providing investors with a tool to inspire change and make an impact.

Now State Street Global Advisors is issuing—to the more than 3,500 companies we invest in on behalf of clients across three major regions (US, UK and Australia)—new gender diversity guidance designed to increase the number of women on corporate boards. As the third largest asset manager in the world and a significant shareholder,2 we believe that board diversity enhances board quality—bringing together directors with different skills, backgrounds and expertise.

Although there has been some progress made on the inclusion of women on corporate boards, still one out of every four Russell 3000 companies do not have even one woman on their board. And nearly 60% have fewer than 15% of their boards composed of women directors.3

As we proudly celebrate the first anniversary of SHE, we are taking our commitment to gender-diverse leadership one bold step further. Our statue has taken her place for all of Wall Street to see—a place where corporate America cannot help but notice her. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, we’re committed to helping boards achieve greater gender diversity through active dialogue and engagement with these companies and their board leadership. 

Standing proudly for the promise and power of women in leadership, she is right where she belongs.

Learn more about SHE and the SSGA Gender Diversity Index at: spdrs.com/shecan.

The SHE prospectus is available by clicking here.

1MSCI, Women on Boards: Global Trends in Gender Diversity on Corporate Boards, as of 11/2015. MSCI defined strong female leadership as having a board of directors with at least three women or a higher percentage of women than the average in the company’s country. MSCI defined companies without a critical mass of women at the top as companies with less than three women on their board of directors or a lower percentage of women than the average in the company’s country. The methodology used in MSCI’s study is different than that of the index, and as such, the results of the study should not be viewed as indicative of the future performance of the index or SHE. Return on equity is not representative of the performance of any investment or the potential return of any ETF.  
2Assets under management were $2.47 trillion as of 12/31/2016. AUM reflects approximately $30.62 billion (as of 12/31/2016) with respect to which State Street Global Markets, LLC (SSGM) serves as marketing agent; SSGM and State Street Global Advisors are affiliated.
3Institutional Shareholder Services

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