An “industry deficiency” in female talent is financial services firms’ reason for hiring fewer female staff, according to Perennial.
The firm said diversity had “crept up in importance” for firms from third to second, behind greenhouse gas emissions, according to a survey by the firm, but that an inhibitor was the lack of talent.
Speaking to Money Management, Perennial Better Future co-head of ESG, Emilie O’Neill, said: “The inhibitors to this were named as industry deficiency in the talent pool, are females scared of working in finance?
“Some 62% of people said lack of talent was the reason followed by competition for talent, lack of graduates and firms’ hiring policies. People are acknowledging that it is an issue and are taking steps to address it.”
Inhibitors to companies achieving gender diversity
While there had been focus on achieving gender diversity at a senior level, O’Neill said Perennial also found firms were focused on staff at an entry-level as well.
The Better Future fund regularly questioned firms on their gender diversity and would exit a position if it did not see companies’ taking steps to improve their standing.
“We need to see management are aware of it [gender diversity] and are prepared to take steps to address it,” O’Neill said.
“We will give them the benefit of the doubt but we do need to see tangible progress over time and if we don’t then we will exit our position. We would like to see firms making an active effort.”
She said there was more interest in the environmental, social and governance (ESG) space from women as this gave them an opportunity to carry out meaningful work.
“In ESG, that is drawing more attention from females who want to have a positive impact, I don’t want to generalise, but females tend to want to feel they are making a difference in their work and to find meaning in their work,” O’Neill said.
As to how firms could improve their gender diversity, she suggested they educate themselves on the benefits of diversity, hold management accountable to reaching diversity goals via their remuneration and set up the working culture to accommodate women in the long term such as flexible working and parental leave.