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Asset managers need to improve diversity – report

Asset managers need to improve diversity – report

Mark Dunne
Tuesday 2nd May 2017

Aviva Investors has discovered a gap between rhetoric and reality when it comes to diversity in the board rooms and trading floors of asset managers.

In its latest environmental, social and governance (ESG) survey it spoke to 39 asset managers, which collectively have more than $4trn under management, to gauge their views and policies on diversity.

The survey found there is a need for improvement, especially when it comes to appointing women to senior roles.

Despite almost all of those questioned (92%) believing that diverse teams are more successful, only 82% monitor the diversity of their workforce.

It makes worse reading for those hoping that a belief in the merits of diversity is backed-up by policy. Those setting directives to support women in the workplace stands at around 70%, while respondents with policies supporting ethnic minorities and LGBT groups falls to 64%.

Only what Aviva describes as a “handful of respondents” have women making up at least 30% of their executive boards, while a “small number” have all male boards.

The problem is worse on the investment floor. Only 5% of those questioned said that at least 40% of their investment managers are women.

Three quarters of those surveyed do not have female recruitment targets, although more than half said that they have initiatives aimed at retaining women in their workforce.

Aviva Investors head of multi-manager research, Isabel Emo Capodilista, expects more financial institutions to set gender-related recruitment policies, pointing to the “growing evidence” that diverse teams positively influence investment performance as a catalyst.

Pay is another issue. In 2016, the gender pay gap for full-time workers in the UK was 9.4%, according to the Office for National Statistics. More than half of those taking part in the survey believe that pay for executives should be disclosed, but only 18% support company-wide transparency on pay.

This gap could narrow thanks to legislation. From April, companies with more than 250 employees have to publish the salaries they pay, so the pressure that follows those paying women less than men to do the same job could be a catalyst for change.

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