If someone asked what the key to economic growth is, what would your answer be?
The answer: Women.
According to a 2009 study in the Harvard Business Review, females controlled 51.3 percent of wealth in America, amounting to about $14 trillion in personal wealth. That number is projected to surge to $22 trillion by 2019.
And as more women like Sheryl Sandburg continue to drive the conversation on female empowerment, a new mutual fund is capitalizing on the potential growth of female leaders and companies focused on hiring women in management.
The recently-launched Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund invests in a group of companies from around the world that are leading the way in gender diversity on their boards of directors and in upper management, as well as through policies and outreach programs.
The newly created fund is a partnership between Ellevate, a professional women’s networking organization, and investment consulting firm Pax World Management. Ellevate, formerly known as 85 Broads, is a global network of around 35,000 women founded by Wall Street vet Sallie Krawcheck. Krawcheck has been recognized in Fortune‘s “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” as well as Forbes “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.” Before exiting the banking world, Krawcheck was the president of global wealth & investment management for Bank of America.
The financial industry heavyweight’s latest venture is aimed at investing in female-empowered companies to help illustrate that more women in upper management positions is not just about closing the gender gap, but yielding greater corporate results and better performance, according to the DailyWorth.
“The research suggests that we, women, tend to think about work differently than the gentlemen do. The gentlemen, when you ask them what they work for, the first answer is: money. Women, work for [a] meaningful purpose, and money too. So is the case with investment,” Krawcheck told DailyWorth.
“We women are looking at what has historically been an either/or question: get a fair return or express [our] values? The answer is: ‘and.’ I’d like to get a fair return and I’d like to express my values. And, hearing from women, all of you, is that one of the values you want to express is having more women in leadership positions,” she added.
The firm touts 100 percent of the companies listed on its index have one or more women on their board of directors and 97 percent have two or more female members of their board. The fund is the first of its kind in the United States and hopes to be a part of the solution in the gender diversity equation.
But surprisingly, Krawcheck found that many of the companies listed on the Index are already of stature.
“I laughed because I thought maybe these would be fringe companies that, you know, you’ve never really heard of before. It turns out, the companies that floated to the top, 400 companies, were the PepsiCo’s, the GEs, the Avons and the Yahoos — real brand name companies,” she said.
The partnership will also focus on growing its network of female business leaders and promote educational programs for women by working with companies and investors.
While we continue to drive the national conversation on gender equality in the workplace, it’s important to see initiatives like the Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund working to illuminate the benefits of giving female business professionals a seat at the table.
MORE: It’s a Woman’s World Now, and Women Are Making It Better for Everyone