Hesta to scrutinise fund managers on gender

Hesta to scrutinise fund managers on gender

Health industry super fund Hesta will inspect the gender diversity of 70 of its investment managers in efforts to encourage more opportunities for women in the industry.


Hesta has widened the focus of its scrutiny on gender diversity to include its ‘investment value chain’, putting “internal investment operations, external investment partnerships as well as the companies in which it invests” under the spotlight, according to a statement by the fund.

The super fund has sent out online surveys to 70 of its Australian and international investment managers in order to measure gender diversity ratios across roles and teams — from investment analyst positions to the gender ratio of investment committees.

Hesta chief investment officer Sonya Sawtell-Rickson, who wrote to the fund’s investment partners earlier this week, calling on them to complete the survey, said Hesta wanted to better engage with them to understand what initiatives they were undertaking to improve equal opportunity, as well as to share the fund’s approach.

“The aim is to collaborate with managers to develop case studies which demonstrate industry-leading practices that can be shared more broadly,” she said.

The fund’s chief executive Debby Blakey added that its commitment to gender equality went “much further than just talking about it”.

With more than 80 per cent of Hesta’s 840,000-strong members being women, Ms Blakey said the issue of gender equality “directly” impacted the financial interests of the fund’s members.

“Encouraging more inclusive work cultures that celebrate diversity creates greater career opportunities for women which, over the long-term, can also increase their retirement savings,” Ms Blakey pointed out.

She also noted the investment management industry had “historically” been a male-dominated industry.

“Given the number of women in our society, it’s crucial [that] organisations have in place processes to ensure they’re identifying the best talent and building strong, inclusive teams with a broad range of perspectives.”

The super fund will be tracking progress annually, with results of the survey reported to the Hesta Investment Committee and Board and shared with managers, according to the statement.

“We want our actions to help drive long-term, meaningful change,” Ms Blakey said.

“This is a great opportunity to extend the dialogue we’re having about gender diversity to our investment partners as we explore ways of increasing diversity across the entire investment process.”

Health and community services sector super fund Hesta has over $43 billion assets under management and more than 840,000 members.

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