UBS has launched an exchange traded fund supporting companies actively progressing gender equality in the workplace.
The Global Gender Equality UCITS ETF is the latest addition to the suite of impact investment products offered by UBS. It will invest in the Solactive Equileap Global Gender Equality 100 Index.
The index comprises 100 global companies selected on 19 diversity criteria, such as equal compensation and work-life balance, transparency and accountability, gender balance, and sustainability policies.
The new product is a joint collaboration between UBS Asset Management and UBS Wealth Management, with 5% of its management fees to be dedicated to UBS' philanthropic foundation, UBS Optimus.
UBS Wealth Management managing director Olga Miler said the new ETF comes as part of the firm's five-year plan to significantly scale its efforts for female clients and make the wealth management industry work better for women.
"Gender equality is important to our clients and our business. The combination of broad gender equality criteria, sustainability and donation make this ETF a leap-step forward in connecting capital to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal 5 - achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls," she said.
Research recently conducted by UBS Wealth Management's chief investment office found companies where women accounted for at least 20% of the board and senior management had higher returns than their less gender-diverse peers.
Further, the same was found to be true of companies with more than 30% female representation in overall management positions and 40 to 60% female employees overall.
UBS Asset Management's head of sustainable and impact investing Michael Baldinger described the ETF as another big step in sustainable and impact investing innovation.
"The launch of this new ETF provides investors with a unique opportunity to benefit from systematically investing in the leading global companies on gender diversity, based on Equileap's pioneering research into corporate gender diversity, while at the same time having the potential to achieve strong returns," he said.
UBS Wealth Management sustainable investing strategist, Rachel Whittaker added: "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 organisation as well as in leadership positions."
UBS Asset Management launched its first socially responsible ETF in 2011 and now manages 43 ETFs totaling more than US$2.7 billion.