Female CIOs on the rise within investment management

HESTA gender diversity chief investment officer

7 August 2023
| By Jasmine Siljic |
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Investment management firms are seeing greater female representation, including the number of female CIOs rising from zero two years ago to 25 per cent, says HESTA.

The $74 billion super fund’s Gender Diversity in Investment Management progress report noted that previously zero women held CIO positions in 2018 or 2020.

HESTA’s biennial study surveys its domestic and international external investment managers to measure workforce gender diversity across its value chain.

Overall, women accounted for 24 per cent of the investment management industry among the fund’s managers. This demonstrated an upward trend from 17 per cent in 2018 to 22 per cent in 2020.

Investment committees were made up of 25 per cent women, a notable rise from 14 per cent in 2020.

Debby Blakey, HESTA’s chief executive, highlighted the positive change within investment management but pushed for further efforts.

“There is extensive research showing how organisations benefit from improving diversity in a range of ways from better decision making, more diversity of thought, greater innovation and ultimately enhanced financial performance,” she explained. 

“That is why we strongly advocate for greater gender diversity among our investment managers, helping invest our members’ retirement savings. For real change to happen, investment leaders must prioritise this, as it can also help deliver a performance edge.”

Women held a quarter of investment team roles as unlisted managers, a minor rise from 24 per cent in 2020.

Listed manager roles occupied by women saw an increase from 17 per cent in 2020 to 22 per cent in 2022. 

This included women holding one-fifth of portfolio manager positions, 23 per cent of senior investment analysts roles and 27 per cent of investment analysts. 

HESTA’s survey additionally explored other markers of workplace equality, such as flexible work offerings and uptake, the gender pay gap, recruitment and promotion practices, and workplace sexual harassment.

“The report highlights that the percentage of women in roles across different levels of seniority falls below the desired 40:40:20 ratio, which aims for 40 per cent women, 40 per cent men and 20 per cent any gender,” observed Sonya Sawtell-Rickson, HESTA’s CIO.

“With that objective in mind, there is a long way to go to achieving gender balance in the investment management sector,” she added. 

At the industry fund, women made up 42 per cent of their investment management team, including 67 per cent on its investment committee and half of head of investment management roles. 


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