On Wall Street, a new LGBTQ exchange-traded fund debuted just in time for the start of Pride Month. It’s a clear indication that investors recognize the LGBTQ community’s purchasing power and economic clout.
The LGBTQ + ESG100 ETF, managed by data firm LGBTQ Loyalty Holdings (LFAP), invests in 100 S&P 500 companies that are committed to diversity, equality, and other environmental and social causes.
Many of the market’s biggest tech companies, such as Apple (AAPL), Tesla (TSLA), and Amazon (AMZN), are among the top holdings (AMZN). But the ETF also owns significant stakes in Marriott (MAR), Starbucks (SBUX) and Estee Lauder (EL).
According to Bobby Blair, founder and CEO of LGBTQ Loyalty Holdings, Inc., the new ETF is based on an index that his company launched in 2018 to track companies that are doing good for LGBTQ people and minorities.
Blair, a former tennis player, has also enlisted the help of prominent LBGTQ figures from the sports and political worlds.
The LGBTQ Loyalty Holdings board of directors includes tennis legend Martina Navratiova and retired Congressman Barney Frank. Billy Bean, a former Major League Baseball player who came out after his retirement, is another example.
“The idea for this began when I started to ask myself if companies showing strength and doing positive things for LGBTQ employees and consumers are performing better than others,” Blair said. “This is a monumental time for the LGBTQ community.”
This is a winning strategy. Since its inception, the index has outperformed the S&P 500 by a small margin, and the ETF has gained nearly 2% since its inception.
One reason for this, according to Andrew Chanin, co-founder of investment firm ProcureAM and an advisor on the ETF, is that LGBTQ members are loyal customers with high annual incomes on average.
These factors, according to Chanin, are baked into the ETF’s holdings. The fund’s stock picks are based in part on data from The Harris Poll, which surveyed adults in the LGBTQ community about their views on big corporations.
“We wanted this to be an authentic and inclusive approach,” Chanin told CNN Business. “We’re looking for companies that are aligned with the LGBTQ community.”
This mindset isn’t limited to the corporate world. LGBTQ causes are also attracting the attention of cryptocurrency investors.
DICK (whose logo is a pink dolphin) is a new ethereum-based meme token that recently launched.
The token’s creators have pledged to donate 1% of the funds in the DICK public wallet to charities fighting violence and discrimination against LGBTQ people every week.
In an email to CNN Business, the DICK creators said they expect to donate $10,000 per week on average, and up to $100,000 per week if the DICK token is widely adopted.
DICK’s first donation went to Rainbow Railroad, a group that helps LGBTQ people flee violence in countries where they are persecuted.
“Imagine dogecoin but, instead, one with a purpose,” the DICK creators said, referring to the now popular meme cryptocurrency that started out as a canine-themed joke but has been embraced by Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk.
“We are using the power of memes, the global phenomenon of memes, for a good cause. Instead of people just laughing, they will be involved in something funny which also … may save lives,” the DICK creators said.
The interest from big companies and investors in embracing inclusiveness, according to Blair of LGBTQ Loyalty, is a good sign. He believes there has been a shift in corporate culture in the United States.
Even so, there aren’t many well-known business leaders who have come out as gay. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, is by far the most well-known.
The Biden administration has stated that it will uphold federal transgender health-care protections, reversing a controversial Trump-era decision.
Despite the fact that Cook is the CEO of a $2.1 trillion tech behemoth and the world’s most valuable company, few LGBTQ people have risen to the C-suite as far as Cook has.
Only a few Fortune 500 CEOs have come forward publicly, including Dow Inc. (DOW) CEO Jim Fitterling and Beth Ford, the CEO of agricultural cooperative Land O’ Lakes.
“I’m surprised there aren’t more LGBTQ CEOs yet. But boards are becoming more inclusive-minded. We will see more executives from the community,” Blair said.
“Great talent rises to the top. People won’t be held back because of their sexual orientation. I hope I live long enough to see a lot more people like Tim Cook,” Blair said.