Clockwise from top left: Amanda White, Susan Roberts, Keri Pratt, Kim Farrant and David Scollon. Photo: Simon Hoyle.

Promoting gender diversity is a big question for financial institutions and despite the progress made so far, many funds and especially their investment teams are still characterised by finance stereotypes that can deter more diverse candidates from joining the workforce.  

But as a starting point for those looking to bring genuine change – be it internally or in the broader industry – the Investment Magazine Fiduciary Investors Symposium has heard that difficult conversations must be had about how to eliminate “micro-exclusionary” events and recognise men and women’s different ways of working.   

In a candid table discussion conducted under the Chatham House Rule, executives and investment leaders from Australia’s top institutional investors and consultants interrogated how the current talent pipelines, recruitment processes and workplace culture can be made more inclusive. 

A female investment leader in asset management said small things matter in creating a welcoming workspace.  

“It’s the micro exclusionary events – like meetings when the men are only looking in the men’s eyes,” she said.  

“I’ll never forget a meeting just last year, where there was a woman making the decision. She didn’t look at the two guys sitting next to me, she looked in my eyes. 

“I’ve shared that story with so many women. It’s the small things that really make a difference, and that awareness of them.” 

Another female executive who is on several asset owners’ investment committees pointed out the difference in women’s and men’s ways of working and the danger of ignoring that. 

“Women tend to be very task orientated, they’ll be given a function within the team, and they’ll do that task from start to finish. They get a lot of satisfaction from doing that,” she said. 

“Men on the other hand, can be very currency motivated, and currency is: ‘I want to do the job that I really enjoy doing’ and in an investment team that’s managing the money and making investment decisions   and ‘I want everyone to know about it’, so they are sometimes the loudest voice in the room.”