Company Data and the Mission Aligned Portfolio

Until 2016, the available data to help align a portfolio with the goal of advancing women was, for the most part, limited to the number of women on corporate boards and in senior management. Lacking other relevant information from companies about their practices, investors who were interested in improving the lives of women could only count females in these highly visible roles. However, from a social science perspective, we don’t know if, and to what extent, the number of women on corporate boards and in senior management makes a difference for women more broadly.

The data landscape, however, is now rapidly expanding. Over the past year, Bloomberg and Equileap have intentionally increased the number of data points they collect from companies to evaluate not only how women are faring as employees, but also how women’s lives are being affected by a business’s products and services. These new data points cover a broad range of company policies, practices, products, and public activities. In addition to providing measures of how many women are employed at various levels in a company, they provide data on compensation and tenure, maternity leave and sexual harassment policies, how the company’s products, services and supply chain policies impact women, and if they have made public commitments to support women’s advancement.

For our analysis, we started by looking at data providers that make their data points available publicly: Bloomberg, Equileap and Thomson Reuters. We then reached out to two additional firms to expand our sample; MSCI responded. Bloomberg LP, MSCI, and Thomson Reuters are large, well-known data providers that, among other things, collect and publish financial and social information on thousands of companies across the world. Equileap is a nonprofit that specifically collects and licenses data on women in global companies.

We focused our analysis on data points in Bloomberg’s Gender-Equality Index, Thomson Reuters’s Diversity & Inclusion Index, Equileap’s Gender Scorecard, and those identified by MSCI’s team as relevant to the XX Factor. In all, we examined 122 data points relating to women across the four providers and analyzed each for alignment with the XX Factor framework.

We first analyzed each of the 122 data points to determine how closely they lined up with our five dimensions of women’s lives. We then classified data points that lined up directly with a determinant or outcome measure in an effort to identify the opportunities and challenges of aligning a public equity portfolio with the XX Factor framework.

Based on this categorization, we found that 73 of the 122 data points are related or closely related to the determinants in our framework, 61 of which are related to the XX Factor economic empowerment dimension. This is not surprising given that companies are primarily economic entities, but it is significant for those investors interested in pursuing economic empowerment for women. Since our framework’s dimensions are interrelated, some of these data points are also linked to the other four XX Factor dimensions.

Still, data are scarce for other items identified in our framework as determinants of good outcomes for women, including access to mental healthcare coverage, finance, and education. The most notable void in the data relates to access to contraception and reproductive health agency and rights, determinants that are associated with every one of the XX Factor dimensions. Only Bloomberg and MSCI currently collect data—one data field each—related to contraceptives. Bloomberg’s data field identifies whether a company offers contraceptive coverage to employees. MSCI’s data field measures revenue from contraceptives and was designed for Catholic investors seeking to eliminate companies that earn profits from selling contraceptives.

It’s worth noting that disclosure of contraceptive coverage, in particular, and reproductive health coverage, in general, is relevant primarily for evaluating whether U.S.-based companies are improving the lives of women. Aside from the U.S., no other developed country depends upon companies to provide health care coverage. (In 2016, 55.7% of the population in the U.S. had employer-based health insurance coverage.[1]) In other developed countries, data on reproductive health coverage is not as relevant to evaluating whether a company is aligned with the goal of advancing women because such coverage is provided by the government, not private employers. To address this challenge, Equileap plans to eventually collect and publish data related to women’s healthcare in the U.S. and expand the coverage of its existing data points to include emerging and frontier markets.

What’s clear from this work is that there’s room to grow when it comes to having more data points align with the determinants we identified in our framework in areas such as health, education, personal safety, and legal rights. For now, our analysis reveals that Equileap publishes the most data aligned with the XX factor framework and includes the largest number of companies. When Bloomberg’s Gender-Equality Index gains traction and covers a broader universe of companies, it will provide an even larger set of data points that align with our framework.

For now, another challenge for investors who care about alignment with the XX Factor’s findings is that the broader investment community remains largely focused on financial considerations and not social impact—although that appears to be changing. Demonstrating how social factors affect financial outcomes may capture the interest of investors who are focused on financial and not social considerations. For example, quantifying the financial cost to individual companies of social factors, such as sexual harassment or not providing access to contraceptives, could lead to greater support for disclosure of data that are essential for aligning a portfolio with the mission of advancing women.

In fact, the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), an independent standards-setting organization that fosters disclosure of material sustainability information, has engaged in an extensive effort to develop a materiality map that identifies sustainability issues on an industry-by-industry basis “to help public and private corporations disclose material, decision-useful information to investors.”[2]

Given the importance of SASB’s effort in setting standards for company disclosure, quantifying the impact of the XX Factor determinants and outcomes for specific industries might be one route to expanding corporate disclosure of a broader set of data identified in the XX Factor.

Summary of Available Data That Link to Select Determinants

The XX Factor framework specifies the five dimensions of women’s lives that research shows are critical to women flourishing, the outcome measures used around the world to mark progress within each dimension, and the evidence-based determinants of that progress. We mapped the relevant 122 data fields published by four data providers—Bloomberg, Equileap, Thomson Reuters, and MSCI—to identify opportunities for aligning a public equity portfolio with our framework.

While our framework’s dimensions represent broad categories of women’s lives, the outcome measures and determinants are more specific and measurable—and therefore can be used by investors to evaluate if a company’s policies, practices, products, and public activities improve women’s lives. The infographic below shows which outcome measures and determinants have data points that can be used by investors to screen companies, which data providers publish them, and which XX Factor dimensions they relate to.

For example, Bloomberg currently publishes one data point regarding contraception coverage, and Equileap is testing five data points that address access to contraceptive coverage and reproductive healthcare for U.S. companies. In our framework, some determinants are related to each other and link to progress along multiple dimensions of women’s well-being: access to contraceptives (Health); rates of teen pregnancy (Education); reproductive health agency and the ability to decide when and how many children to have (Economic Empowerment); and access to safe, effective, and affordable forms of fertility regulation (Legal Rights).

XX FACTOR DETERMINANTS AND OUTCOME MEASURES

Bloomberg Equileap Thomson Reuters MSCI

ASSOCIATED XX FACTOR DIMENSION(S)

Equitable work-related policies and practices

28
12
6
3

Economic Empowerment
Personal Safety

Equal pay for equal work and gender pay gap*

0
0

Economic Empowerment
Personal Safety
Legal Rights

Paid maternity leave*

0
0

Economic Empowerment
Personal Safety
Legal Rights

Access to contraceptives/rates of teen pregnancy/reproductive health agency/the ability to decide how and when and how many children to have/access to safe, effective, and affordable methods of fertility regulation

5**
0
0

Health
Education
Economic Empowerment
Personal Safety
Legal Rights

Absence of physical and sexual violence and harassment

0
0

Personal Safety
Legal Rights

Attitudes toward women in society

0
0

Personal Safety

(Not) living in poverty

0
0

Education
Personal Safety

Marriage agency/protection from child marriage

0
0

Economic Empowerment
Personal Safety
Legal Rights

Access to finance

0
0

Health
Legal Rights

* Equitable work-related policies and practices include both equal pay for equal work and paid maternity leave. We broke out those two items since they are directly associated with XX Factor determinants

** Fields being tested by Equileap but not currently available

Endnotes

[1] Barnett, Jessica C. and Edward R. Berchick. 2017. “Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2016, Current Population Reports.” U.S. Census Bureau, Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration. https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2017/demo/p60-260.pdf.

[2]  Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB). 2017. “SASB Conceptual Framework.” https://www.sasb.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/SASB-Conceptual-Framework.pdf.