Pax's fund, called the Pax Ellevate Global Women's Index Fund, was originally established in 2007 as an actively managed fund. In 2014, Pax partnered with former Wall Street executive Sallie Krawcheck to relaunch the fund as an index strategy. The fund follows an index that focuses on companies that have women represented on their boards and in leadership positions.
Today, the fund includes about 400 companies. Its top holdings, as of Dec. 31, include Microsoft Corp., Texas Instruments Inc. and KeyCorp. Almost all of the companies in the fund — 99 percent — have two or more women on their boards.
The fund also takes an active shareholder role. In 2016, the fund filed a shareholder resolution with Apple Inc. The company ultimately agreed to conduct a pay audit and address any compensation disparities that existed.
"By working with those companies as a shareholder, you can make a difference," Keefe said.
State Street Global Advisors, which launched an exchange-traded fund focused on women in 2016, also takes an active shareholder role.
"We get to vote on who makes it in and out of the board," said Jenn Bender, senior managing director and director of research at State Street Global Advisors. "The ones that have no women on their boards, we are likely going to vote against their resolutions."
State Street's fund, with the ticker symbol SHE, focuses on companies with the highest percentage of female managers in their respective sectors. The index upon which the fund is based is rebalanced every year, Bender said.
While the fund's holdings, which total 169, do change, most of the companies stay consistent over time, she said. The ETF's top holdings currently include Pfizer Inc., Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc.
The fund itself can serve as a "good replacement" for an ordinary equity allocation, Bender said.
"Having more diversity and views … is better for companies," Bender said. "They tend to be more agile and envision what the future looks like better than other companies."