Should gender diversity matter to investors?
Three stocks at the forefront of the gender diversity trend.
Julie Bech, co-manager of Global Gender Diversity strategy
In 2015, the United Nations adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals as a blueprint for a more sustainable future for all—the fifth goal is Gender Equality. Recognising gender equality as a fundamental human right and a necessary foundation for peace, prosperity and sustainability, many public and private actors are taking steps to close the gender gap. This initiative has gained significant traction because in addition to being a worthy social cause, it has genuine economic merit. Ensuring that more women are working and leading in the workplace is simply good business.
For companies it should make sense to take advantage of the largest talent pool especially as demographic headwinds emerge. In light of Nordea’s launch of its Global Gender Diversity strategy, Julie Bech, co-manager of the fund, looks at three examples of companies* recognized for being at the forefront of gender diversity:
L’Oréal is one of the biggest cosmetics companies in the world and has been a recognized leader in gender diversity and equality for many years. Last year, L’Oréal tied for first place in a global Gender Equality ranking of 3,206 companies. Additionally, the company was included in the 2019 Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index, a comprehensive investment-quality data source on gender equality. The company maintains strong business fundamentals, financial performance and corporate culture as well as a solid ESG profile (AAA rating by MSCI ESG) .
The Marriott Group, a leading hotel chain present in more than 130 countries, has made placing women in leadership a part of the company’s growth strategy. Marriott International has a proven track record of recognising talented women and helping them grow into senior leaders: approximately one in six of the company’s General Managers are female and in 2017 alone, the number of women in General Manager positions grew by 22 percent in Asia Pacific. The company has also publicly committed itself to UN SDG #5 (gender equality) with the goal of “achieving gender representation parity for global company leadership by 2025”.
Global payments technology company, Visa, is committed to diversity and gender equality in the workplace. A signatory of the Women in Finance Charter, the company has committed to target 38% of women in senior management by 30 September 2021 and to make its gender diversity statistics available to the public. Visa’s 2017 Gender Pay Gap Report showed near parity on the proportion of eligible employees receiving a bonus, but also demonstrated a larger number of men than women in the upper quartile. That said, the Pay Gap Report itself is an important step toward gender equality. In 2016 Visa was named in the inaugural Bloomberg Financial Services Gender-Equality Index, which recognizes financial services companies that demonstrate a strong commitment to gender equality through policies, product offerings, community support and engagement.
All of these companies are holdings of Nordea’s Global Gender Diversity strategy.