Closing the gap: Asset managers highlight initiatives to improve gender pay inequality

Gender gap

Asset managers, including Fidelity International, Aviva Investors, and Invesco, have outlined their initiatives to close the gender pay gap, as scrutiny returns to the male-dominated financial services industry.

According to the IA’s last report in March 2019, there was an average pay gap of 31 per cent among its member firms, which was higher than the 28 per cent gap reported across the financial services sector. This was mostly down to women being underrepresented when it came to senior roles, with women on average making up only 20 per cent of the highest-paid quartile.

It was announced in March 2020 that the obligation for firms with over 250 employees to publish gender pay gap reports has been suspended in UK in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Chris Cummings, chief executive of IA, says: “While closing the gender pay gap won’t happen overnight, our industry is not slowing down its efforts to tackle it. We know more must still be done, but the positive actions like the ones outlined in our new report will go some way to addressing, and ultimately closing, the gender pay gap.”

The initiatives focused on three key areas: attraction and recruitment, retention and advancement, and measuring and monitoring, identified by The Investment Association in its new report, ‘Addressing the Gender Pay Gap: Industry Initiatives’.  

Among the initiatives showcased in IA’s recent report, Fidelity managed to reach its target of 30 per cent women in senior leadership target a year early in November 2019, as a result of various measures taken including setting up Ways of Working to promote a more family-friendly culture, refining hiring and mobility practices, and working with strategic partners to encourage more women to consider careers in investment management.

Aviva Investors launched an effort to retain staff who take time away including to raise children, with its 2019 Return to Work programme, a six-month placement for finance professionals returning to work after an extended career break of two years or more. It intends to run the programme again in 2020.

Invesco also restarted its flexible working scheme, in order to provide a better work/life balance which has been shown to support workplace diversity.

Cummings adds: “During these difficult times, investment managers like many firms have rapidly and successfully moved to agile working. We know firms that embrace a flexible working culture are more attractive to a greater diversity of people, so we must build on this success and continue to embrace this flexibility as we recover from this crisis. This flexibility will also help address our gender pay gap.”

When it comes to recruitment, Jupiter Asset Management introduced anonymised applications for entry level recruitment. Jupiter identified different styles of writing by male and female applicants for fund management roles, and made an effort to be conscious of biases in styles of writing when reviewing applications, which it says resulted in more diverse candidates progressing through the various recruitment stages and an increase in female representation. 

Majedie Asset Management took a different approach to recruitment, opening a university outreach competition. This will give selected teams from four universities a notional GBP25,000 to invest and trade in listed equities until the end of June 2020, with any profits going to charity.