The “Fearless Girl” statue. (Photo: Federica Valabrega)

Individual and institutional investors that apply a gender lens to mutual fund and ETF investments can now enhance that process by using a new screening tool rolled out Tuesday by As You Sow, a nonprofit that promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building and innovative legal strategies.

Gender Equality Funds screens the holdings of some 5,000 of the most commonly held U.S. mutual funds against a database that details individual company performance on 12 key gender equality performance indicators.

Those indicators measure policies that demonstrate companies’ commitment to gender diversity and gender balance in their overall leadership, management and workforce, yielding an overall gender equality portfolio score for each mutual fund.

Investors can search the Gender Equality Funds database to find out how specific funds are scored, look for responsible options that track leading companies in terms of gender equality and compare financial returns.

Gender Equality Funds sources mutual fund holdings data from Morningstar and company-specific gender data from Equileap, which provides data and insights on gender equality in the corporate sector.

This transparency gives investors, for the first time, the ability to apply a gender lens in evaluating mutual funds, according to the announcement.

Recent research found that demand for gender lens investments has grown dramatically, with assets having increased by 85% in the 12 months ended June 30.

“This tool could not be coming out at a better time,” As You Sow’s chief executive, Andrew Behar, said in a statement. Behar noted that although women comprise 47% of the workforce, only 4.8% of S&P 500 companies are led by women.

“The new tool empowers investors to see what is hidden within the mutual funds that comprise the bulk of their retirement savings and 401(k) plans,” he said. “We expect this tool to unleash a tsunami of change in the way women are treated in the workforce.”

Gender Equality Funds is As You Sow’s fifth Invest Your Values online tool, joining ones that focus on fossil fuels, deforestation, tobacco products and weapons.