Are Asset Managers Just Paying Lip Service to Gender Diversity?

Redington survey identifies gap between investment criteria and internal metrics.

Less than half (47%) of asset managers assess gender diversity when researching potential investments, despite recognising its importance within their own firms, according to a global survey conducted by investment consultants Redington.

More than three-quarters (77%) of asset managers said they monitor gender diversity metrics internally, while almost six in ten (58%) say gender diversity had contributed to their success.

But two-thirds of asset managers had less than 25% female representation on their investment teams and 60% did not report their gender pay gap in 2019.

Nick Samuels, Head of Manager Research at Redington, said the impact of efforts to monitor gender diversity was “mixed” on team structures and decision-making.

“Our survey uncovered some thoughtful approaches to diversity, but we also have to ask ourselves whether some in the asset management industry are just paying lip service to this important topic,” he said.

Samuels said Redington would continue to push its managers to increase diversity and inclusion because of its beneficial impact on workplace effectiveness and competitiveness.

“While we recognise that each organisation must plot its own path based on its own history, culture and needs, investment managers should recognise that expectations are changing from both staff, future hires and the wider society. Understanding these perspectives is becoming ever more important to be successful from an internal and external point of view,” he added.

The survey also explored managers’ understanding and engagement with cognitive diversity – the desire to hire people who think in different ways – with 67% of managers surveyed believing this was important. Less than a fifth of firms use a formal measurement of cognitive diversity, but Samuels acknowledged the complexity of measuring this characteristic.

“Cognitive diversity is much more nuanced, and therefore harder to measure than other aspects, often requiring external resources and costly analysis, which many managers may not currently have available,” he said.

“Pointing them in the right direction should be a key priority as, in a fast-moving world, having more data that allows management to better understand their greatest asset – their people – has to be a good thing.”

Redington interviewed more than 100 asset managers, representing 192 different investment teams with a combined $10 trillion in assets under management.

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