Gender diversity needed in the investment industry: report

While investors see value in gender diversity among investment professionals, women continue to be grossly underrepresented in the industry, reveals a new report by the CFA Institute.

Its global report, which summarizes data collected from a survey of more than 5,000 chartered financial analysts, found 55 per cent of institutional and 54 per cent of individual investors expect better performance from an investment industry that is more gender diverse.

However, the CFA Institute found women, for the most part, represent much less than half of its chartered financial analysts globally. In Canada, where women represent almost half of the general working population according to data from the World Bank, only 19.7 per cent are chartered financial analysts.

According to the report, there’s a higher percentage of male chartered financial analysts (59 per cent) working in investment management jobs than females (52 per cent). What’s more, only one in 10 women are in key leadership positions and are more likely than men (22 per cent versus 16 per cent) to have jobs that support or service those in the investment management industry.

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Despite these statistics, the report noted almost half of survey respondents don’t see gender diversity as a significant issue in the industry.

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“At CFA Institute, we believe that the time to end the woeful underrepresentation of women within the investment management industry is now,” said Paul Smith, president and chief executive officer. “As the industry’s only global standard setter in ethics and best practices, we are asking all of our members and our industry partners to join us in addressing the chronic issue of gender disparity in the investment management industry.”

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The report also provides insight into the realities of balancing work and life for both genders in the profession. It found:

  • Men are more likely to be married and have children (79 per cent and 53 per cent, respectively) than women (72 per cent and 44 per cent, respectively);
  • Women are more likely to have a spouse with a full-time job (79 per cent) than men (51 per cent); and
  • Nearly two-thirds of women with dependents report they have primary care responsibility compared to one-fifth of men who report similar levels of responsibility.

Interestingly, the survey found the investment industry affords both genders flexible working opportunities. More than half of male (66 per cent) and female (63 per cent) respondents reported having little difficulty in taking time off work. Similarly, most men (77 per cent) and women (73 per cent) respondents are given flexibility in their working hours.

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The CFA Institute suggests the gender disparity could be addressed by providing young women with early exposure to the investment industry in their college years and early career, emphasizing to all investors the positive impact that gender diversity can have on investment performance and working to bridge the work-life balance gap that disproportionately affects women.

“In 2016, this is something our industry cannot and should not tolerate,” said Smith. “A focused effort to raise awareness of the benefits of gender diversity in investment management among women and investors alike will allow us to address both the supply and demand sides of the issue.”