A new KiwiSaver scheme launching today will only invest in New Zealand listed companies that have at least one female director on their boards.
The scheme – CareSaver – has also committed to share 20% of its investment management fees from its funds with a range of leading charities including the Mental Health Foundation, Forest & Bird and Plunket, with the beneficiary charity selected by the individual KiwiSaver member.
CareSaver is established by Pathfinder Asset Management.
CareSaver will meet the investment and risk objectives of a broad sweep of New Zealand investors through the CareSaver Growth Fund, the CareSaver Balanced Fund and the CareSaver Conservative Fund.
Pathfinder’s Chief Executive John Berry says: “A diversity of perspectives is critical to effective governance. While diversity is broader than gender, those New Zealand listed companies that do not have female directors do not meet our bottom-line diversity criteria. This is not tokenism. All listed company directors must be appointed on merit, however we believe boards without diversity of perspectives are more likely to have blind spots when assessing key long-term business risks.
“Boards must choose the most qualified for a governance role, but unless New Zealand listed companies can demonstrate a commitment to address the absence of women at the boardroom table, they will be excluded as a potential investment for CareSaver. New Zealand is an outlier compared to the UK, US and Australia, and we’d like boards to explain why."
He said CareSaver aspired to be New Zealand’s most ethical KiwiSaver. Ultimately, it enables Kiwis to save for their retirement in a way that’s consistent with their values. At the same time, in line with this investment philosophy, it facilitates positive change for our communities by providing a source of long-term and sustainable funding for leading charities.
Berry said companies that scored high on a broad range of research-based ESG measures were more likely to provide better long-term returns for savers and better outcomes for our planet and its people. For this reason, representation of women in boardrooms of New Zealand listed companies is a focus.