State-owned investors have a long way to go when it comes to improving their gender diversity and inclusion.
Global SWF, a firm that tracks sovereign wealth funds and public pension funds, said in its April update that just 21% of top executives at wealth funds are women, while an average 17% of board members are female.
Funds in the Middle East in particular are examples of patriarchy, the firm said, where some funds do not have a single female board member or executive.
The update added that at Norges Bank Investment Management, the in-house manager of the Government Pension Fund Global, Oslo, 50% of board members and 33% of leadership are women, "but only a fifth of its 518 personnel around the world are women," showing "the issue is deeper than suggested by the lack of inclusivity at the top" for some sovereign wealth funds. GPFG had 10.91 trillion Norwegian kroner ($1.27 trillion) in assets as of Dec. 31
For public pension funds, the proportion of women in top roles is 31%, while female representation on boards is 41%. "Unsurprisingly, Oceanian and Scandinavian funds are big advocates of female leadership, in line with their host governments: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Norway and New Zealand have a female prime minister, and Australia had one until 2013," the update said.
State-owned investors in Europe had the highest proportion of top female executives at 34% or 44 women, followed by North America at 30% or 41 women. Asia-based investors had 19% female representation (27 women), Oceania had 38% (20 women), sub-Saharan Africa had 18% (six women) and Middle East and North Africa investors had 10% or 11 women in top roles. Latin America-based state-owned investors had just 17% female representation, equivalent to one women.
The update also included an interview with Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Montreal's Maarika Paul, executive vice president and chief financial and operations officer. She highlighted that the biggest challenge for female leadership has often been in the investment department.
The fund, which had net assets of C$365.5 billion ($285.9 billion) as of Dec. 31, just approved a new diversity and inclusion policy "that embraces a number of elements around ethnicity and gender," Ms. Paul said in the update.
Global SWF said that, among the top 100 funds it tracks, few have a female CEO, including Angela M. Rodell at Alaska Permanent Fund Corp., which had $74.2 billion in assets as of Feb. 28; Marcie Frost at the $439.5 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento; and Ho Ching, outgoing CEO at Singapore wealth fund Temasek, which had S$306 billion ($214.6 billion) in assets as of March 31, 2020.
Further, only four state-owned investors have a female CIO, including Sue Brake at Australia's Future Fund, Melbourne, which had A$170.9 billion ($130.9 billion) as of Dec. 31 and Geraldine Leegwater at PGGM, the in-house manager of Pensioenfonds Zorg en Welzijn, Zeist, Netherlands, which has €238 billion ($283.2 billion) in assets.
"Will COVID-19 accelerate the push for state-owned investors to become not only more sustainable but also more inclusive?" Global SWF added in its update.