Bloomberg offers new gender-equality index to promote women’s roles in business

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 October, 2016, 3:31pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 October, 2016, 10:52pm

Bloomberg has launched a gender-equality index to promote gender diversity and encourage companies to have more women represented in their management boards.

“Investors can use this as a basis for choosing their socially responsible investments,” said Angela Sun, Bloomberg’s head of strategy and corporate development. “If your company is on there, it means that you are a leader among your peers in gender-equality.”

The index was launched in May 2016 with 26 global financial firms including HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank, which have proven track records in gender policies,the number of women on board, clients base, products and their social contribution.

Only US-listed companies, or those listed as American Depository Receipts, with US$1 billion in market value can qualify as members on the index. Other current members include Citibank, Metlife and Visa.

Sun was in Hong Kong, Tokyo and other Asian markets last week to introduce the index and encourage more Asian companies to join the index.

Companies that want to join could submit their gender equality policies to Bloomberg by October 26, including the number of women on their management boards, their remuneration policies, information about their maternity leaves, and their community services to promote gender equality.

New entrants to the Index will be announced in January 2017.

According to the 30% Club, which also wants to promote women’s representation in corporate life, its survey shows only 11.6 per cent of Hong Kong’s corporate directors are female at the end of September, lower than 26 per cent in Britain, and 23 per cent in the US and Australia.

“Within Hong Kong and mainland China, there are many eligible financial services firms that we have already engaged with,” Sun told the South China Morning Post by telephone. “We have learned about some extremely innovative practises and impressive statistics and efforts that are already being undertaken by some of the largest retail banks, insurance firms, and asset managers.”

Women’s involvement in board decisions and management help companies perform, Sun said.

The share prices of companies with the most women on their boards and in management roles outperformed the S&P500 index by 141 per cent over 10 years, according to a Bloomberg Markets magazine research, she said.

The Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund, which invests by taking gender into their investment considerations -- including companies with at least 30 per cent women of their boards of directors and at least 25 per cent women in senior management -- has outperformed its the MSCI by 300 basis points over the two-year period ending June 30.