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Helena Morrissey: More women will drive better investment results

The large gender pay gaps reported by fund management firms come as no surprise, but are a painful reminder of how far the industry has to go before reaching anything like gender balance.

Our profession remains highly male-dominated. Tilney’s fifth annual review of UK retail fund managers showed the highest proportion of women yet – but this is still less than 10 per cent.

The scarcity of female money managers really matters – for investment results, for connecting with clients and for our ability to attract the best talent.

I’m often asked to prove the business case for gender diversity – and point out that there’s certainly no business case for 90 per cent of one gender running things.

Empirical studies do suggest that female investors tend to perform at least as well as men, but more compelling are studies around the collective intelligence of teams, showing not just a correlation but a causal relationship between better gender diversity and improved results.

Weighed down: New data sheds light on investment industry gender pay gulf

Within the industry, there is little argument about this: 50 firms have formed the Diversity Project, a collaborative, intensive effort to attract and retain diverse talent.

Our biggest challenge is to break the chicken-and-egg problem. The industry is not just male-dominated, but perceived as ‘traditional’ in other respects.

Many people are unaware of what we actually do, do not see any social purpose to our work, the way we actively engage with companies and think beyond just the numbers.

To really close the gender pay gap, we need to engage in the issues of the day, to demonstrate our social value and actively develop our existing diverse talent.

The big breakthrough won’t happen overnight, but I am more confident than ever before that the commitment – and opportunity – is there.

Fund management can be a great career, not just for women but for anyone who wants a balanced life. Ultimately, it’s all about performance, not hours at a desk.

Helena Morrissey is head of personal investing at Legal & General Investment Management

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Comments

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  1. Much of Helena’s article is welcome.

    Not quite so encouraging is the lack of clarity in how to achieve these objectives.

    There is a risk of solving discrimination of the ladies by simply switching it to the gents.

    It would be a travesty if these fine female aims caused young men, in particular, to face gender barriers based on empirical evidence from unconnected workplaces and a politically motivated desire to achieve quotas.

    Helena, and her senior industry colleagues, have a tricky path to navigate.

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