Barclays launches index of companies with female leadership

Companies with female CEOs or boards comprising at least 25 percent women to be included

Barclays Bank has launched a new index exclusively composed of companies with female leadership, along with exchange-traded notes (ETNs) linked to the index, to allow investors to test the belief that a female presence at the top of a company improves performance.

The Barclays Women in Leadership Total Return Index includes only US companies with a female CEO or a board of directors that has at least 25 percent female representation, the bank says in a press release. The ETNs, which track the index, started trading on the NYSE Arca Exchange on July 10.

The 85 companies on the index include PepsiCo, Hewlett Packard, General Motors and IBM, all of which have female CEOs, and General Electric, Pfizer and others that have boards with a significant female presence.

‘Women are significantly underrepresented in corporate executive leadership, yet a growing body of third-party research suggests gender-diverse leadership may correlate with relatively stronger corporate performance when compared with companies that have less gender-diverse leadership,’ says Barbara Byrne, Barclays’ vice chairman in investment banking, in a press release.

‘We believe providing ETNs and indices that enable investors to allocate capital to this theme will provide a market-based approach to help catalyze change.’

The bank says it also plans to allow investment linked to the index, which was created in co-operation with proxy advisory firm ISS, via other investment vehicles including total return swaps and structured notes.

The index launch follows a series of studies indicating that companies with a significant proportion of women on their boards generally perform better than companies with no female leaders.

Last year, a study by PA Consulting Group of 50 US and UK companies concluded that the companies with the highest shareholder returns had an executive team that was 50 percent female.

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