According to a 2019 analysis by McKinsey & Company, businesses with an executive team in the top quartile for gender diversity were 25% more likely to experience above-average profits, while that percentage was 36% for the top quartile for ethnic diversity.

The gender pay gap is one area that the industry needs to examine closely if we’re going to seriously tackle diversity and inclusion within the financial sector, including the underrepresentation of women. The gender pay gap in investment management is particularly worrying, as it sits at around 30%. This is compared to a pay gap of around 14% in UK companies in other industries. Furthermore, the median bonus gap for investment management is at 36%, whereas it’s 67% for other UK companies. 

It’s crucial that we welcome and nurture talent from diverse backgrounds and ensure that they are properly integrated into our organisations. As we look at ways to improve diversity and inclusion in Asset Management, it makes sense for us to examine the best practices of other businesses outside of the financial sector and see what they’ve been able to do in this area. 

For starters, Microsoft as far back as 2011, commissioned a report in the UK to learn more about women in IT – what they enjoyed about the industry and what made them hesitant to work in the field. They then used the findings of this report to start an initiative called “T Party” that created a community for women in tech, sponsored women to go on an app coding course, and provided them with a career mentor in the tech space. Through this, Microsoft was able to increase their tech hiring of women to more than 35%. 

More recently, Asda has been looking at ways to improve female representation at a store manager level and higher. They track what they refer to as “all-male leadership spines”, which show employees who report to all-male leadership from store manager upwards. With this data, they try to disrupt those chains and include more female representation in leadership. In addition to this, they’ve opened up conversations on diversity and inclusion by holding listening groups, an initiative launched in July 2020. 

Atkins, a British multinational design, engineering, and project management consultancy, implemented a gender balance improvement plan with a four-year strategy in place. This included, among other measures, a commitment to flexible working policies and practices. The ability to work flexible hours made a huge difference in attracting and developing female talent within the business. For example, women who were mothers were able to apply for a job with working hours that didn’t conflict with childcare or other responsibilities. 

At this point, we have to think about whether there is scope, or the collective willpower in the business, to incorporate a support network for underrepresented groups? Additionally, is there space to challenge and disrupt all-male management structures? As we emerge into the new normal, what can your organisation do at a policy level to attract more diverse talent?

What these case studies show is that diversity doesn’t work unless it is paired with inclusion. Organisations, especially in the financial sector, need to ensure that they are opting for real change and not merely paying lip service. Ensuring equal pay in Asset Management is the first step, but there are many more actionable ways that diversity and inclusion can be brought to the forefront in the industry. 

If you want to work on promoting inclusion in your organisation, talk to Berkeley Croft about diversity. We’d be happy to discuss creating diverse shortlists with you and explain how these could transform your organisation.