Investing: Do female execs drive better returns?

Women’s Leadership Fund built on belief that female execs drive better returns.

Naissance Capital, an investment management firm in Zurich, thinks it has a way to beat the stock market: select companies based on fundamental analysis of stocks and a requirement for strong representation of women on boards and in senior management. The strategy is now in play with the recent launch of Naissance Capital’s Women’s Leadership Fund. Will it work?

The investment firm says the fund’s approach is grounded in research such as a McKinsey & Co. study that showed gender diversity increases the chances of higher margins and valuations. On the other hand, investment funds with altruistic agendas have exhibited mixed results. For instance, the FTSE KLD 400 index, which tracks the performance of U.S. equities that follow social and environmentally responsible practices, bested the S&P 500 index by 2.5% over the past year but lagged it slightly over the past 10 years.

The Women’s Leadership Fund features only one women on its five-person investment council, Zoe von Streng, a former executive manager of global investments with UBS, who will take on an activist shareholder role with companies that show resistance to hiring females for senior executive positions. The board for the fund, however, has nor shortge of women ? including former prime minister of Canada Kim Campbell.