DE&I round-up: Women account for just 15.1% of partners in financial services

Climate action group publishes guidance to support women in net zero transition; Danish CFA Society launches DE&I network for Nordic region.

Women still account for only 15.1 percent of partners in financial services firms, according to a survey by employment law firm Fox & Partners. This represents an increase of just 0.3 percentage points from 2021, and finance continues to lag other sectors in the FTSE 100 on gender diversity in senior management. The most recent data compiled by The 30% Club on the gender make-up of boards at leading UK-listed companies showed that FTSE 250 constituents achieved more than 40 percent women on boards for the first time last year, overtaking the FTSE 100, where the figure stands at 39.6 percent. The data was collected between 1 January and 30 November 2022.

The Women in Financial Climate Action Group has launched a framework for financial institutions to support women in the transition to net zero and limit the negative impacts of climate change. The guidance, which was created in collaboration with the Oliver Wyman Forum and 2X Global, is the first of its kind and is due to be piloted by a group of investors in early 2023 to refine its applicability across all asset classes. The framework comprises three areas of guidance, including defining target outcomes to prioritise integrating women in climate investment, aligning organisation and investment processes to promote gender-lens investing, and integrating metrics into organisation and investment processes. The guidance was also supported by The 30% Club.

The Danish CFA Society has launched a diversity network to address DE&I shortfalls in Nordic fund management. Denmark currently has 8 percent women fund managers, the lowest percentage in the Nordics and below the global average of 12 percent. The network, which was co-founded by Camilla Jenkey, chief communication consultant at Danske Invest, aims to boost the number of women in fund management. While the network’s main focus will be gender equality, it will also seek to address diversity in ethnicity, age and sexuality.

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board has reinforced its focus on DE&I in its annual review of proxy voting guidelines. The Canadian pension fund has advocated for large-cap companies to increase their board gender diversity to a minimum of 40 percent women directors, up from the previous target of 30 percent target that was set in 2013. Companies are required to disclose timebound targets to increase the number of board directors identifying as a member of an underrepresented group.

Also in North America, the Seattle City Employees’ Retirement System (SCERS) has identified DE&I as one of its two key areas of focus, along with climate. SCERS has implemented a “DE&I positive action strategy” to support investment managers and companies to foster better decision-making practices and improve performance.

Global feminist organisation the Association for Women’s Rights in Development has published a report on gender impact investing arguing that this works against gender equality. The findings show that the term “gender impact investing” has no common standardised definition to address “gender-based factors”. The research found that public and private institutions which are marketing gender impact investing as a promotion of gender equality and greater resource for women have no evidence to support these claims.