Aussie investment management industry a blocker for diversity

In a study launching at today’s Financial Services Summit, Mercer will discuss research into the Australian investment management industry showing recruitment and workplace bias in favour of graduate degree holders, private school attendees, men, and individuals of Anglo Celtic decent.

Research from Mercer showed more than three quarters (76 per cent) of investment managers were male, with 48 per cent private school educated ahead of a national average of 35 per cent. Of these, 76 per cent also held a Masters level degree in finance.

Mercer diversity and inclusion practice leader, Yolanda Beattie said progress toward equality had been made within the industry and that despite research findings, many leaders were committed to an agenda to dismantle barriers which would start with structured career frameworks to support women.

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“From a gender perspective, fixing the leaky pipeline by supporting women through critical child bearing years must be a priority,” she said.

 “That won’t happen by accident; employers need to intentionally sponsor their talented women if they are to stop them leaving at such high rate.”

While women said lack of career progression opportunities remained the most significant barrier to equality, men blamed parental and care responsibilities as an overarching factor.

Beattie said a tendency for employers in the investment industry was to recruit acquaintances who then tended to have similar cultural or social backgrounds.

“A tendency to hire who you know rather than searching widely for diverse talent is part of the problem,” she said.

“We need to reimagine how we promote this industry as a career option to diverse talent.”

Mercer also found 77 per cent of Anglo Celtic male investment managers felt their direct boss supported their professional ambitions, against 59 per cent of female managers. More than three quarters (78 per cent) also felt flexible working, as often taken on while raising children was also a barrier.

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I have worked for many years in the industry, often as the only or one of few women in a professional role. After children I returned part time which went well for many years until the US owner decided that no one can work part time. As well as I probably cost too much when there are much cheaper younger employees that will work full time. What does that say for diversity and women?

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