Responding to the gender inequity rampant in investment management, Mercer yesterday launched a new proposition aimed at both attracting women to and promoting them within the industry to a packed room.
Future IM/Pact, which involved key project partners from across the industry, would aim to improve the representation of women in the industry by both encouraging women to consider investment management and improving the culture within it.
A newly launched website was at the centre of the proposition, which aimed to increase understanding of exactly what such a career would involve.
This followed a finding by Mercer in 2016 that key reasons female students weren’t considering careers in investment management was because they didn’t know enough about what such work would entail and had a sense that they wouldn’t fit in to the environment.
The proposition would also promote greater role modelling and mentoring, more flexibility (with 78 per cent of women surveyed by Mercer agreeing that a view that flexible working was a “career handbrake” contributed to a lack of diversity), and access to internships and graduate programs.
Mercer’s learning and inclusion practice lead, Yolanda Beattie, said that while many within the industry realised that high performance often depended on attracting and valuing diverse talent, most teams remained male and Anglo-dominated.
Beattie said that, when researching why this was the case, the Mercer team had found that it was often because the candidate selection for roles was not diverse. The above measures were intended to help combat this. Indeed, a question raised at the launch was how to make job ads more appealing to female applicants, as well as whether diversity should be a KPI for managers.
Speaking on a panel at the launch, Pendal chief executive, Richard Brandweiner, said that more diversity could even help the industry as a whole recover its poor reputation and rediscover its purpose in the trying time it was currently undergoing.
He said that strengths common to women, such as empathy and high emotional intelligence, “will be critical in helping our industry rediscover our purpose … because there is a fundamental purpose to finance, and it’s a good one, and if we have more diversity I think that will help us [get back to that]”.
Future IM/Pact’s project partners included AustralianSuper, Cbus, Future Fund, HESTA, Magellan, NAB Asset Management, Pendal, QIC and Wavestone.