Euronext has launched eurozone and France equity indices targeting gender equality as “first pillars” in a broader range addressing gender balance in the workplace.

The Euronext Equileap Gender Equality Eurozone 100 index and Euronext Equileap Gender Equality France 40 index will offer exposure to the top-performing companies in target regions based on Equileap scoring on gender balance in leadership and workforce, equal compensation and work-life balance, policies promoting gender equality and commitment, transparency and accountability.

Equileap metrics are based on UN Women’s Empowerment principles and are designed to provide an overview of gender equality through companies’ value chains.

Companies will also be excluded from the indices based on their involvement in controversial activities or if they are in violation of the UN Global Compact.

Euronext said the new benchmarks come in response to increased investor demand for social thematic investments and align with UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5, gender equality.

Camille Leca, head of ESG at Euronext, commented: “We constantly innovate in our products and services offering to meet investors’ strong demand and need to carry out their ESG transition.

“As a market infrastructure, our role is to propose products for direct investment in ESG projects and, in this case, companies leading the way in gender equality performance.”

Diana van Maasdijk, CEO at Equileap, added: “It appears that high-performing companies with the drive to do the right thing when it comes to addressing gender equality at work apply the same ethos to other key ESG criteria.

“Investors looking to create a better society with equal opportunities for women at work can now use these indices to back high-quality, high-performing companies.”

The new indices arrive at a time when the treatment of gender and diversity issues in the EU’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) ‘phase two’ are being called into question, after BlackRock voluntarily downgraded its $68m iShares Refinitiv Inclusion and Diversity UCITS ETF (OPEN) from Article 8 to unsustainable Article 6 earlier this month.

It also comes four months after Equileap partnered with Morningstar to launch a eurozone gender diversity equity index.

Last year, Euronext also expanded its ESG offering with CAC 40 and MIB ESG indices for French and Italian equities.

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