The term “responsible investment” probably evokes images of environmental issues: protection of forests and waterways, clean energy, the state of the oceans… Socially responsible funds have broadened the concept by also addressing human issues, including respect for human rights, gender diversity, social equity, and the promotion of women in the workplace.
Of the three socially responsible funds that we offer our clients in partnership with Mackenzie Investments, one of them, the Mackenzie Global Leadership Impact Fund, targets women in leadership. We decided to focus on this theme in response to our clients’ expressed interest in certain societal issues.
Diversity, driver of change
Globally, women in leadership is growing very slowly: only 19% of management positions and 25% of board of director positions are held by women. What’s more, a recent study involving 64,000 employees and based on data provided by 279 companies employing 13 million people around the world shows that, even in those companies that have fully integrated gender diversity in their business activities, this inclusion has not translated into any significant advancement of women in management positions. How to transform corporate structures and introduce new opportunities for women?
A highly profitable way forward
Many studies have established a direct link between a company’s superior financial performance and a greater mix of female and male leaders. Clearly, companies that have more women managers post better returns on capital. They are more innovative and better performing, generate a higher level of employee satisfaction and have a better retention rate.
How to concretely favour women in leadership?
The strategy used by Impax, manager of the Mackenzie Global Leadership Impact Fund, is to invest in companies that actively support women in leadership. To determine objectively which companies meet its selection criteria, Impax established a “Global Women’s Leadership Index.” The firm ranks each company based on representation of women in executive management and on the board of directors, as well as whether the company is a signatory of the UN’s Women’s Empowerment Principles. The manager is thus able to determine impartially the companies most favourable to women’s leadership around the world.
This approach differs greatly from traditional approaches since investment decisions are not based solely on a company’s stock market capitalization, but also on how it values the potential of the women it employs. Their advancement is favoured because it become a condition for investment.
Above all, act!
Concrete actions produce measurable effects. Let’s compare the companies in which the Mackenzie Global Leadership Impact Fund invests with those that make up the MSCI World index:
|Presence of women||Impax strategy||MSCI World Index|
|On the board of directors||38%||25%|
|More than 3 women||94%||46%|
|In management positions||31%||19%|
|CEO or chief financial officer||33%||15%|
Women in leadership is a solid way forward. Companies that leverage their best talent, whether they are women or men, always achieve the best results. Concretely encouraging the advancement of women creates a better society for everyone, including investors!
 Women in the Workplace 2018, McKinsey, in partnership with Leaning.org,