Corporate Giants Go Social

It is no secret that the rising 'millennial' generation is more likely to purchase products and services from companies that are making a positive social impact. According to a U.S. Trust Report, 69% of millennials use their investments as “a way to express social, political and environmental values.” Many companies, whether to attract consumers or because of redefined strategic goals, are changing the way they operate in order to incorporate consumer values such as gender equality, education and financial inclusion.

On July 10th, Barclays launched a ‘Women in Leadership’ ETN to trade on the New York Stock Exchange. This ETN, the first of its kind, is designed to highlight companies with diverse gender leadership. The idea is to empower and encourage women leadership in the corporate world. The ETN tracks an index which is composed of US-based companies with either a female CEO or 25% of females on the board of directors. “Women are significantly underrepresented in corporate executive leadership, yet a growing body of third-party research suggests that gender-diverse leadership may correlate with relatively stronger corporate performance, as compared to companies with less gender-diverse leadership” - Barbara Byrne, Vice Chairman in Investment Banking

The MasterCard Foundation pledged to provide financial support to 15,000 high school and university students. The scholars are primarily African females, 6,000 of which are set to enroll by December 2014. The 10 year program offers “holistic financial, social academic and leadership development support” and the goal is to inspire young leaders to create social change through education.

Wells Fargo announced a partnership with Grameen Foundation’s Bankers without Borders to expand its Global Fellows Program. This is a global consulting program where employees volunteer their professional expertise to microfinance and poverty-focused organizations. Prudential Prudential attended a meeting with the US Advisory Board and G7’s Social Impact Investing Taskforce at the White House in June. This meeting was dedicated to impact investing, and Prudential committed to building a $1 billion impact portfolio by June 2020. Some of the areas that Prudential invests in are affordable housing, sustainable agriculture, and microfinance institutions. In July, Prudential also announced that it will provide an $850,000 grant to the National Council of La Raza’s (NCLR) Wealth-Building Policy Project. This project aims to strengthen financial literacy in Hispanic communities through research and advocacy.