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New ETF combines female focused strategy with a charitable twist

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A new ETF is betting on companies that support women at every level.

Impact Shares will donate part of the fees charged for the YWCA Women’s Empowerment ETF, which trades under the ticker WOMN, to the YWCA, which also helped set the investment criteria for the new fund.

The fund tracks the Morningstar Women’s Empowerment Index, which selects companies based on strong gender diversity policies, commitment to equal pay and family-friendly programs like paid leave and flexible work options, among other criteria.

As of now, Microsoft and Amazon.com are the fund’s top-two holdings.

WOMN is the second in a series of single-issue funds with a charitable component from Frisco, Texas-based Impact Shares. The first, Impact Shares NAACP Minority Empowerment ETF (NACP), started trading in July. The asset manager is itself a non-profit and received funding from the Rockefeller Foundation as part of its commitment to mission-driven investing.

“Innovative financial instruments can be impactful for us and other investors that want to have a social impact and make a financial return,” said Rajiv Shah, CEO of The Rockefeller Foundation.

A little more than $1 billion is invested in the dozen ETFs with a focus on workplace equality, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The SPDR SSGA Gender Diversity Index ETF, (SHE), is the biggest, with more than $350 million in assets. It’s up 29% since it launched in March 2016 compared with a 47% climb for the S&P 500 Index.

The philosophy driving WOMN’s portfolio is a little different. Unlike SHE, which focuses on women in companies’ senior ranks, WOMN looks for gender diversity throughout a company’s entire workforce and policies that promote equality at all levels.

WOMN costs $7.60 a year for every $1,000 invested, nearly $6 more than the price of SHE and about $5 more than what BlackRock charges for an ETF with a broader socially conscious mandate.

Bloomberg News