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June is Pride Month. Wall Street has taken notice

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A new LGBTQ exchange-traded fund recently launched on Wall Street … just in time for the start of Pride Month. It’s a clear sign that investors recognize the purchasing power and economic clout of members of the LGBTQ community.

The LGBTQ + ESG100 ETF from data firm LGBTQ Loyalty Holdings invests in 100 companies in the S&P 500 that are doing a good job of embracing diversity and equality as well as other environmental and social causes.

Top holdings include many of the big tech firms that dominate the market, such as Apple, Tesla and Amazon. But the ETF also owns significant stakes in Marriott, Starbucks and Estee Lauder.

Bobby Blair, founder and CEO of LGBTQ Loyalty Holdings, Inc., told CNN Business that the new ETF is based on an index that his firm launched in 2018 to track companies that were doing positive things for the LGBTQ community as well as minorities.

Blair, a former tennis player, has also gotten prominent LBGTQ people from the worlds of sports and politics to work with the company.

Tennis legend Martina Navratiova and retired Congressman Barney Frank are on the LGBTQ Loyalty Holdings board. So is Billy Bean, a former Major League Baseball player who came out after he retired.

“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.”

The strategy is a winning one. The index has outperformed the S&P 500 by a slight margin since its inception and the ETF is up nearly 2% since it began trading.

Andrew Chanin, co-founder of investing firm ProcureAM and an advisor on the ETF, said that a big reason for this is that LGBTQ members tend to be loyal consumers who also have, on average, high annual incomes.

Chanin added that those factors are baked into the mix of the ETF’s holdings. The fund’s stock picks are based in part on data that includes a survey conducted by The Harris Poll of adults from the LGBTQ community about their thoughts 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.”

A LGBTQ-friendly cryptocurrency is here too

This philosophy is not unique to Corporate America either. Cryptocurrency investors are taking a closer look at LGBTQ causes as well.

A new ethereum-based meme token named DICK (whose logo is a pink dolphin) recently launched. The creators of the token are pledging to donate 1% of the funds in the DICK public wallet every week to charitable organizations fighting violence and discrimination against LGBTQ members.

The DICK creators told CNN Business in an email that they expect to donate $10,000 weekly on average and potentially as much as $100,000 a week if the DICK token is widely adopted.

Rainbow Railroad, a group that helps LGBTQ people escape violence in countries where members are persecuted, was the first to receive a donation from DICK.

“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 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.

More needs to be done

For LGBTQ Loyalty’s Blair, the interest from big companies and investors in embracing inclusiveness is a good sign. He said there is definitely a change in corporate culture in America.

Still, there aren’t many prominent business leaders who have admitted to being gay. Apple’s Tim Cook is by far the most famous.

Even though Cook oversees a tech juggernaut that is worth $2.1 trillion and is the most valuable company on the planet, few other LGBTQ people have risen as far as Cook has in the C-suite.

There is just a handful of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies that have publicly come out, such as Dow Inc. 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.

Article Topic Follows: Biz/Tech

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