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Making diversity a real imperative

Making diversity a real imperative

Mark.Freed / 04 Dec 2019

In late October, we reported on the launch of the latest Diversity Project Report: ‘Time to get serious: If diversity is a business imperative, treat it like one’. This was an impressive and well-argued document that clearly had the backing of many senior people in the industry, as they provided quotes to add their voices to its findings. These included:

“There is a commercial imperative here. More diverse organisations perform better.” Rose Thomson, Chief People Officer, Standard Life Aberdeen.

“If you don’t see the true purpose of diversity and inclusion, you’re likely to see this as a tick-box exercise. But you need to take this issue seriously … business-wise and economy-wise, if you truly understand why diversity and inclusion are central to our future, there would be no fatigue.” Mark Burgess, Chief Investment Officer, EMEA and Deputy Global Chief Investment Officer, Columbia Threadneedle.

“The gender pay gap is real and we can’t shy away from solving it.” Andy Clark, CEO, HSBC Global Asset Management

“To get diversity higher up the business strategy, it must be embedded in the business focus. It cannot be standalone. My role as CEO is to drive this embedding, so diversity is an integral part of business discussions on a day-to-day basis, rather than a separate set of issues. As aleader, my role is also to challenge conventional thinking and intervene where necessary. This includes asking important questions such as why a white man with some experience is taking on the role rather than say a women with perhaps less experience but a wider and different skillset.” Euan Munro, CEO, Aviva Investors

“We have moved on from the time when it was HR’s role to shine a light on diversity issues, to one where the Leadership is now fully engaged. Our new CEO has brought authenticity and greater boldness in talking about both diversity and inclusion, by being a role model and openly demonstrating that she cares. It’s now clear throughout leadership, middle management and all staff that creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace is a major business opportunity and a priority within our organisation.” Belinda Regan, International Head of HR, Investment Management, Fidelity.

The report also makes clear the extent of the problem for investment management. It was one of five sectors reporting the biggest gender pay gaps in 2018 and the only one of the five that failed to record an overall improvement. The report questioned whether the industry is really taking the issue seriously.

The findings also confirmed that the main challenge for the industry is the disproportionate number of men in the highest-paid roles. Investment management has the lowest percentage of high-paid women (just 23.2% of the upper quartile, compared with banking at 24.9% and insurance at 31.5%).

The main theme of the report, was that progress in closing the gap is slow. I noted that the recruitment based solutions were long term answers, like graduate intake and returners.

E2W have another solution which provides immediate benefits. We can confidently say that via our community of over 10,000 women working in senior positions in the industry that we can put forward at least three great female candidates for all open executive and leadership roles. Our experience is that one of our candidates will turn out to be the best person for the job, team and firm. 

I think we all recognise that statements of intent and a few sporadic initiatives aren’t enough to convince women, and other underrepresented groups, that an organisation is serious about diversity, especially if their own experiences are discouraging. More needs to be done and it’s an area where I feel that E2W can make a real difference.

This is our speciality, after all, so we have contacted the people who contributed to the article and offered to find them three great female candidates for any senior role that they currently have open. It’s one of the most effective, and possibly easiest, ways to close the gap, so we are very much looking forward to hearing their responses. For any company that wants to get serious about diversity, we can really help them treat it as a business imperative.

If you found this article interesting and would like to continue the conversation with me, please get in touch


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