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Study of Fondsfrauen and KPMG on gender diversity

In all sectors, the statutory women’s quota, which applies to large German companies since 2015, caused a “jerk”. For the majority of German asset management companies there is no obligation to the legal “quota” (which is 30 %), but it has a certain impact. In this year’s survey, KPMG and Fondsfrauen again contacted leading German asset managers and asked them about their gender programs and the situation in their companies. With 17 participants, 67 % of the market (measured by the amount of assets under management) was represented in the survey and thus offers a comprehensive insight into the current situation.

One third female applicants
The results show that gender structures within companies visibly change from the beginning to the highest levels of the career ladder. Across the asset management industry, on average, fewer women than men apply (on average 33 % of applicants). However, the proportion of recruited applicants (44 %) exceeds that of the candidates. This suggests an above-average proportion of qualified female candidates.

While the situations of start-up and general workforce are very similar, job applicants are very different among asset managers. They vary between 10 and 41 % of applicants, depending on the company. This span suggests that women perceive companies differently and accordingly apply to some and not to others.

There are still “Pink Ghettos”
Not in all areas of the company is the proportion of women so strikingly low as in management. In the human resources departments in German asset management, women continue to be in the majority with an average share of 85 %. Also marketing, a well-known women’s domain, is strongly represented on average with two-thirds of women. However, female employees remain underrepresented above all in the areas of trading and order desk, sales (field service) and portfolio management.

Accordingly, women are predominantly present in the administration, while areas that are the core of asset management remain male-dominated. This does not suggest big leaps in women’s advocacy and integration, especially since the previous 2015/16 study found that even in the “pink ghettos”, the leading positions are often held by men.

Compared to the 2015/16 results, there were no big changes in the numbers. However, there is a ray of hope: a small increase in the IT sector gives hope that the basis for a future higher female share of senior executives is laid.

Reasons for not hiring women are contradictory
Asked about the reasons for non-employment and denied Promotion of women, companies were able to choose from four responses and identify other obstacles. With the approval of 76 % of respondents, the answer “too few applicants” is the most present. This is followed by “missing qualification” with 29 % and “available working time” with 18 %. Flexibility expectations do not appear to be an obstacle for asset management companies.

The answers indicate contradictions. For example, in the case that too few applicants are a major reason for not hiring and not promoting: At first glance, the relationship between male and female applicants highlights the most frequently cited reason for non-recruitment and non-promotion. However, from the pool of all applications relatively more female applicants are selected as candidates. This circumstance clearly does not speak for a lack of qualification. Nevertheless, the data collected prove that the multi-layered aspects associated with the generic term qualification are obstacles to the promotion of Young female talents. This is to be dispelled.

Women’s promotion programs and other gender measures
In the survey, companies were also asked about specific gender strategies, goals and existing measures. It was about promoting women for a higher proportion of female members in the Executive Board and in management, increasing the female occupation one or two levels below the Executive / Management level and the possibility of compulsorily creating a short list of all key positions with a minimum percentage of female candidates.

In addition, it was asked if there was a women’s quota on recruitment, and whether promotions of women are bonus-relevant for executives or a mandatory part of their target agreements. Also surveyed were the increase in the retention rate of female employees in middle and senior management, budget-sponsored women’s networks, diversity officers and sponsorship programs for women.

While strong trends emerged among the individual measures on the one hand, for example with a particularly high proportion of subsidized networks, the ratio between measures and goals was striking. 14 of the 17 companies say that they have existing gender goals, and even less asset managers are involved in planned funding, with only five planning new measures. The figures show that the potential of standardized changes has not yet been exhausted.

Part-time work must not be stigmatized
The survey also shows that part-time work has arrived on a large scale in asset management. However, mostly women claim part time jobs. But the difference decreases in in the management levels (84 to 16 percent). Even though comparatively few executives use part-time employment, the ratio is still more balanced at 65 to 35 percent. And exactly this message is needed in companies: Senior staff should demonstrate that part-time and career work for all employees.

Part-time work allows many families a successful life balance. However, this does not have to be at the expense of the career of the partner who mainly cares for the children, which still mostly are the mothers. There must be the same options for all parents. This offer will only be used by male employees if part-time work for men is not accompanied by stigmatization and if it does not mean the end of the career ladder. As a result, flexible working hours must be introduced and lived in such a way that everyone has a chance at life-balance.

Overall positive opinions on gender diversity
The voices from asset management companies show in many cases that gender diversity is deliberately wanted. The advantages of gender diversity are the improvement in the performance and the results. Among the companies surveyed, there is little diversity promotion, not only in connection with individual support programs, but as a holistic concept (including age, origin, etc.). But not all asset managers face the issue in this way.

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