Apostle Funds Management launches first impact report for People & Planet Diversified Fund


Karyn West

Apostle Funds Management (Apostle) has announced the launch of its impact report for the People & Planet Diversified Fund.

The Apostle People and Planet Diversified Fund (APPDF) launched in April 2022 and has outperformed both the market index and the median return for balanced superannuation options. The Fund has 67.66% Carbon footprint lower than benchmark[1] and 14.18% greater female representation compared to the benchmark[2], whilst achieving returns of 10.56% in FY23.

Walking the walk on gender equality

Apostle prioritises investments with a focus on advancing gender equality through active ownership and as a member of 40:40 Vision. The Fund also excludes investments that are underperforming its gender equality benchmark tilting the strategies towards those that are outperforming.

While there has been a gradual increase in the representation of women in senior management roles globally, women continue to be significantly underrepresented in Executive Leadership Teams (ELTs) across the ASX300.

According to the 2023 Chief Executive Women Census, companies that have set a 40:40 or better target are three times more likely to achieve gender balance within their ELT compared to companies without such targets. Despite this compelling evidence, 36% of ASX companies have not yet set gender composition targets for their ELT, and an additional 24% have set a target that falls short of the 40:40 benchmark.

The latest Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) Scorecard for 2023, reported that Australia’s gender pay gap reached a new low of 21.7 per cent. The significant decrease from the 2022 Scorecard means that on average, men earn just over a fifth more than women. This represents the largest single-year reduction in almost a decade, although women still earn considerably less than their male counterparts.

Kylie Parkyn, Apostle’s Portfolio Manager, Sustainable Investment, said, “Our approach to active ownership ensures that our engagement and voting decisions are geared towards addressing pay and leadership inequalities, accelerating the performance objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While the WGEA Scorecard results are encouraging. We acknowledge that there is still work to be done in order to promote more women into leadership roles.”

Apostle is an Australian-owned, and female-led fund manager. Apostles’ overall workforce is gender balanced with over 40% female representation in the company, its investment team is 50% female and ensures equal pay for equal work between male and female employees.

Ms Parkyn continued, “At Apostle we are firm believers in advocating for gender equality in our investments and embodying it within our own business. We are proud to be a female led Funds Management business and maintain a gender-balanced workforce, with women making up over 40% of our team. We are committed to ensuring equal pay for equal work among our male and female employees. We expect this same standard of the businesses we invest in with our Fund.”

The power of proxy voting for impact

Apostle demonstrated its commitment to climate-related issues by supporting all shareholder proposals that promoted long-term shareholder value in 2022. The firm also took a firm stance on board diversity, opposing 41% of director elections where the board did not include at least 40% representation from underrepresented gender identities. Opposing 59% of director elections where the board lacked at least 20% representation from racially or ethnically diverse directors.

Apostle’s Managing Director Karyn West said, “Capital markets have an important role to play in scaling business solutions that address the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically relating to the climate and increasing gender diversity.

In our first Impact report, we wanted to share how we think about impactful investment, our approach and highlight some of the work we are proud of, areas where we have achieved impactful ‘performance’ and areas where we would like to move the dial and enhance our efforts.

We are committed to connecting pools of capital with the problems facing the world today. It not only makes ethical sense but also directs investments into real growth opportunities which supports our clients objectives.”

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