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ETF steers funds toward firms with female leaders

Amid a flood of new exchange-traded funds this year, one aimed at investing in companies with women in top executive posts has jumped to the head of the pack.

State Street Global Advisors in Boston launched an ETF with the moniker “SHE.” If it sounds a hair too cute, the money is serious: $270 million in assets since its March launch, more than any other new ETF has attracted in 2016, according to Bloomberg rankings.

A major pension, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, seeded the fund with $250 million. Whether significant additional money will follow remains to be seen.

“It’s generating a lot of interest because it does address the important social issue of gender equity in corporate America,’’ said portfolio manager Lynn Blake.


While the fund set out to invest in major US companies with women in at least 30 percent of their leadership posts, Blake said they had to back off that target.

There simply still aren’t many women at the top of companies in industries like technology and energy, she said, and State Street did not want to skew the fund too heavily to other sectors, like consumer staples and health care, where female executives are more prevalent.

About 150 companies are included in the fund, whose return has closely tracked the Standard & Poor’s 500 index so far.

“This index highlights the companies that have gotten it right,’’ Blake said. The fund’s largest holdings include Home Depot Inc., Berkshire Hathaway Inc., and Oracle Corp.

Beth Healy can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @HealyBeth.