Several studies have found that companies with women employees in senior positions and on their boards outperform the ones dominated by men. As per research by Quantopian, which compared the performance of Fortune 1000 companies that had women CEOs between 2002 and 2014 with the S&P 500's performance over that time, women led companies proved to be 226% times better than the S&P 500. Currently, women hold the CEO position in 20 of the S&P 500 companies or approximately 4.0%.
These women are at the helm of some of the most powerful companies in the U.S. today. The top defense company Lockheed Martin has a woman CEO, and so does one of the world's biggest car makers, General Motors. Leading generic and specialty drug maker Mylan and tech companies Yahoo! and IBM are also headed by women.
Given the strong evidence of outperformance, many investors are interested in adding female-centric companies to their portfolio although the list is still modest. Two of the ETF/ETNs in the space - the Barclays Women in Leadership ETN (NYSEARCA:WIL) and the SPDR SSGA Gender Diversity Index ETF (NYSEARCA:SHE) - provide exposure to companies with women in leadership positions.
Though the duo might appear similar at a glance, there are a number of key differences between the two that are detailed below (see all Large Cap ETFs here).
Barclays Women in Leadership ETN
This product tracks the Women in Leadership Index, which provides exposure to U.S. companies that have either female CEOs or at least 25% female members on their board of directors. Some of the top holdings include PepsiCo, Pfizer, General Electric and IBM. From a sector perspective, information technology, consumer staples, health care, industrials and telecommunication services round off the top five positions. Launched in July 2014, the ETN has amassed $28 million in its asset base and trades in a paltry volume of around 1,000 shares. Expense ratio comes in at 0.45%. The fund returned 8.76% in the past one month.
SPDR SSGA Gender Diversity Index ETF
This ETF went live this Women's Day celebrated on Mach 7 every year. It tracks the SSGA Gender Diversity Index and seeks to provide exposure to large-cap companies that have female employees in senior leadership positions. The fund holds 140 stocks in its basket and has an expense ratio of 0.20%. Top holdings include Home Depot Inc. and Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Class B, each holding more than 6% weight. The rest of the fund's portfolio is well diversified with none holding more than 5%. From a sectoral perspective, financials (17.8%), health care (16.2%) and information technology (15.3%) occupy the top three positions. In the couple of weeks since its launch, the fund has already amassed $255.6 million in its asset base and trades in a volume of around 605,000 shares. The ETF returned 1.3% since its launch.
In terms of sector weights, both funds stand on a similar base. However, SHE has an edge over WIL in terms of asset base that it has gathered in such a short span of time. Additionally, SHE trades in much higher volumes, which should keep the bid/ask spread low. In terms of expense ratio too, SHE charges a lower rate. Therefore, investors keen or riding the trend by investing in women led companies should take note of these points before choosing between the two.
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