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Interview: “We need to present more female role models!”

Since 2018, Lindsay Hudson is Diversity & Inclusion Manager EMEA at Invesco. Fondsfrau Anke Dembowski talks with her about why Invesco has opened this position last year, and which goals she has.

Lindsay, you are Diversity & Inclusion Manager at Invesco. How long does this position exist at Invesco, and why was it installed?
Lindsay Hudson: I have been working for Invesco for five years now, and Diversity of Thought is at the heart of our Purpose. During 2018 we recognised that there needed to be a greater focus on diversity and inclusion to really to move the needle. During 2018 the company took the decision to create two new Diversity & Inclusion Manager roles to cement our commitment in this area – I focus on the EMEA region, and I have a counterpart working in North America.

And what exactly are you doing in your position as a Diversity & Inclusion Manager?
We have several Diversity and Inclusion initiatives underway at Invesco. These range from Smart Working – ensuring that everybody in the company has the necessary flexibility to have a good work/life balance, through to reviewing our approach to recruitment to ensure we are widening our talent net as far as possible. We are also looking to expand our Employee Resource Groups (ERG’s) – we have a very active Women’s Network at Invesco and recently launched our LGBT+ Network. In the coming months, we are looking to launch our Ethnicity Network. Everybody in the business is very passionate about the topic. There are so many different initiatives that we could focus on, but the key is to maintain a focus on a few things and deliver those well.

What are your main goals?
We have clear goals for Diversity and Inclusion, which can basically be divided into three pillars of work: a) The attract pillar. How do we attract new talents? b) The engage pillar – looking at how we engage existing talent, and c) the development pillar. Our efforts are much broader than gender diversity too – we focus on Ethnicity, Neurodiversity, sexual orientation, disability – there are a myriad of ways in which people bring their diverse perspectives to the organisation.

What is your main challenge when improving gender diversity at Invesco?
At the moment, we have a female talent pipeline challenge. That is not unique to Invesco. We see that challenge across the asset management industry. The industry can be perceived as male dominated, particularly in revenue generating functions, and there are often not sufficient numbers of senior female role models. We need to work harder to showcase the broad spectrum of varied and interesting jobs in our industry and then look at how we approach development into more senior roles.

You said that you are organising events at universities to promote the range of career opportunities available in investment management. What kind of prejudices about the financial business do you see at young female students?
I think there is a perception that you need to have studied certain degree subjects to join a company like Invesco – maybe Maths or Economics. Yet, we have such a huge variety of career opportunities available. Educating students about the different career paths on offer is key – is it not a ‘one path’ route into the business. For example, one of our female fund managers has a History degree and it is important that we have role models across the business for female students to relate and aspire to.   We also need to showcase our industry beyond portfolio management too – there are fantastic opportunities in technology, legal, operations roles – the list goes on and on! It is important to also not just focus our efforts at University students by which point they may already have quite a fixed career path in mind, but to get into schools and educate them about the opportunities in our industry.

What other challenges do you tackle?
The “Motherhood penalty” is often cited in academic research as being a barrier to female progression in the workplace – this is a term used to describe how a woman’s career trajectory can stall after the arrival of children.  We are constantly keeping abreast of current research and using it to inform our diversity and inclusion strategy and planning. As an example, we know that offering more flexible working opportunities is one way in which we can help in the workplace. We want to showcase women and men who already work flexibly. I have three children myself, so I understand some of the challenges when juggling a career and childcare – for example, a lot of schools in the UK still do not have wraparound care, so as a society there is progress that still needs to be made. Creating modern workplaces is one of our greatest opportunities

Do you have more plans in your “Smart Working” project, apart from flexible work?
We are launching Smart Working across EMEA and this is much more than purely part time working. The idea is that we say to employees: We want to be able to offer the best job-life-balance and still all work efficiently together. It is matter of us moving away from presenteeism at a desk, in an office, to focusing much more on one’s output. What the exact set-up looks like will be unique to each individual but it could include working from home, a job share, compressed hours etc., but it is about having those honest conversations at an individual level. It is often said that work is what you do, not a place you go to.

Invesco has activities in many different countries. Which local differences in terms of gender diversity and improving gender diversity do you see?
Many of the initiatives that we are working on translate well across the whole of the EMEA region – everyone wants a good work/life balance and needs to feel that they belong within the organisation. That sense of belonging underpins all our Diversity and Inclusion work. In the UK, we now have mandatory gender pay gap reporting and there will always be certain regional differences – but we try to approach the topic of diversity and inclusion globally wherever possible.

In terms of impact investing: Do you exercise your voting right at general meetings in issues of gender fairness?
Yes we vote in AGMs. We do have gender equality in our global proxy policy but this policy is applied on a case-by-case basis. But I have to say that AGM voting is not my specific area. You need to discuss these issues with our ESG team.

Thank you very much for these interesting insights, Lindsay!

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