In 2017 Mercers, the investment consultants, ran a fascinating survey across a sample of the UK as part of the Diversity Project (more on the Diversity Project in a moment). It reminded us of the daily reality of life in fund management reporting that 77 % of investment managers are male. We cannot possibly assume that such a heavy preponderance of men can produce all the good alpha to generate return we need to save for our futures.
So, the industry is now focused on resolving this issue and other related themes around it by working to open the industry to people from all backgrounds to reflect the nature of modern Britain today. To add jet fuel to find a solution to this challenge, we are fortunate that the main industry association, the Investment Association, has set up the Diversity Project, which is a cross industry group chaired by Dame Helena Morrissey, of LGIM and author of “A Good Time to be a Girl”. The Diversity Project currently has well over 25 global investment member companies. We are now approaching our 2nd year of work and activity as we try to build a more diverse working culture and industry. This means understanding our landscape with data, I cited the Mercers 2017 survey above which will be run again in 2019. We are now working to understand best practice, policies and obstacles to success.
Divided into subject groups with many ambitions, we are working collaboratively to resolve a wide range of salient themes; women and men returners coming back to work after family care, disability, ethnicity, LGBT, early careers (encouraging graduates from a range of different universities and disciplines to try for a career in investment management).
There are also some other innovations as investment firms realise that diversity not only means good business practice and gives competitive advantage, it also gives a great investment opportunity to clients. So many firms are now launching product that invests in the diversity “dividend” are now emerging. On May 21st LGIM launched the L&G Future World Gender in Leadership a UK index equity fund. This has now been renamed the “Girl Fund” with an exciting advertising campaign across the UK “Own your world”.
So in terms of innovation and celebration we have done a lot this year but we are not without obstacles in the way. We are all pragmatic about the challenge and hard work required to bring about the change we need to have the investment and savings industry everyone deserves.
Here in Britain we look enviously at Nordic markets with their well-articulated plans for gender equality (e.g. Iceland) and their well organised child care system. We also admire and respect DACH innovation and always look to bring in ideas and best practice. So I welcome all ideas and thoughts from FondsFrauen Readers.
About the Author
This article was written in a personal capacity by Sarah Dudney. Sarah works at The Buy-Side Club, is based in London, and speaks German, Italian and French. The Buy -Side Club is a member of the Diversity Project. She has worked in search and recruitment for the past 15 years and has worked for leading global asset managers in London, Paris, Frankfurt and Luxembourg. She is originally from Scotland. Here, she is writing in a personal capacity about the speed of women working in the financial business; next week she will write about diversity projects going on in the UK.
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