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Swiss Fund to Support Firms with Female Directors

Swiss investment company Naissance Capital has announced it will launch a fund to invest in firms with women board members and to encourage other firms to increase gender diversity among company leadership. Starting in January, the Women’s Leadership Fund will invest in firms with at least 20 percent more women in senior management positions than the average found in the company’s industry and country, reports Hedge Week. A small percentage of the fund will also be used to invest in companies where women are underrepresented in order to push through changes creating more opportunities for women.

The creators of the Women’s Leadership Fund, who hope to eventually devote $2 billion to the project, have currently accrued $200 million to invest in 30-40 companies across the globe, according to the New York Times. R. James Breiding, co-founder of Naissance Capital, said that the fund was developed in response to studies showing that companies with more women in senior positions outperform those whose leadership is male-dominated, reports the New York Times. One such study, from business research firm McKinsey, found that European companies with greater gender diversity among management reported average earnings growth of 11.1 percent during the 2003-2005 period compared to the general average of 5.8 percent, according to the Guardian.

Hedge Week reports that seven of the fund’s eight board members are prominent women leaders in business and politics, including Cherie Blair, lawyer and wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair; Kim Campbell, former prime minister of Canada; Jenny Shipley, former prime minister of New Zealand; and Wendy Luhabe, chair of South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation. Cherie Blair told attendees of a New York event celebrating the fund, “The evidence shows that companies who give women an equal chance to shine and equal responsibility are also likely to be more profitable companies…A revolution is happening and those firms and countries which don’t understand this are going to be left behind. In developed and developing nations, women have become the drivers of economic growth.”

Sources:

Hedge Week 10/27/09; New York Times 10/26/09; Guardian 10/26/09

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