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‘More action is needed’ to meet investment management gender gap

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By Jessica Penny
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3 minute read

While steps have been taken to achieve greater gender parity in investment management, an industry super fund has said that there is still a way to go.

Recent findings from HESTA have highlighted a positive trend in representation within the investment management workforce but have emphasised the importance of taking further measures.

The fund’s latest Gender Diversity in Investment Management progress report revealed that women account for 24 per cent of HESTA’s external investment management workforce, marking an increase from 22 per cent in 2020 and 17 per cent in 2018.

HESTA chief executive Debby Blakey pointed to the ways in which organisations can benefit from improved diversity, from greater innovation to enhanced financial performance.

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“We understand and share the challenges of improving the under-representation of women in the funds’ management industry. For real change to happen, investment leaders must prioritise this, as it can also help deliver a performance edge,” Ms Blakey said.

According to the report, which encompassed HESTA’s domestic and international investment managers, women filled 25 per cent of investment team roles at unlisted managers, a slight increase from 24 per cent in 2020.

Listed managers saw a more notable improvement, with representation in investment team roles rising from 17 per cent in 2020 to 22 per cent in 2022.

HESTA also highlighted a positive trend in increased representation of women across various role categories, with the greatest improvement among listed managers being chief investment officer (CIO) roles.

This surged to 25 per cent occupancy by women in 2022, in contrast to no women in CIO roles in 2018 or 2020.

For unlisted managers, senior investment analysts saw the strongest improvement, up from 24 per cent of these roles being filled by women in 2020 to 33 per cent in 2022.

However, there was an observed decrease between 2020 and 2022 in the presence of women in managing director or equivalent roles (7 per cent decrease) and vice-president/director roles (2 per cent decrease).

While encouraging progress has been made, HESTA CIO Sonya Sawtell-Rickson said that the percentage of women in roles across different levels of seniority falls below the desired 40:40:20 ratio, which aims for 40 per cent women, 40 per cent men, and 20 per cent any gender.

“With that objective in mind, there is a long way to go to achieving gender balance in the investment management sector,” Ms Sawtell-Rickson said.

“We want to capture for our members the benefits of diversity. So, we continue to focus on how we can improve gender diversity right across our investment value chain, from the companies we invest in, to our investment partners and our own team.”

HESTA confirmed that it has set an internal target for its investment management team of 40:40:20 by 2030 – currently, women comprise 42 per cent of this team.

‘More action is needed’ to meet investment management gender gap

While steps have been taken to achieve greater gender parity in investment management, an industry super fund has said that there is still a way to go.

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