Though the gender gap in the investment industry has narrowed in recent years, the industry is still overwhelmingly dominated by men. Some high-level women in the industry are working to change that.
Kathryn Sayko, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at PGIM, said on a panel that one thing that could help draw more women to the industry is an increased focus on impact investing — "how we use our capital to influence more fairness in society," as she described it — which she said might help provide younger female employees with a sense of purpose.
"Something that we need to do collectively is do a much better job (highlighting the) connection between our investment outcomes and the financial dignity that those outcomes create for stakeholders, for teachers and police, and retirees … because that's the stuff that gets me up in the morning," Sayko said. "That's the stuff that will motivate people to seriously consider joining our industry."
Laura Pollock, founding partner at Third Street Partners, added that employers should also know that women and men interview differently, and firms hoping to recruit women should tailor the recruitment process to better fit what women are looking for.
"To recruit a woman is very different than recruiting a man," Pollock said, adding that women are often "incredibly loyal" to their current jobs, are reluctant to move, and take more time to consider offers than their male counterparts. "You have to recruit them like top professional athletes," she said. "They are not going to come to you."
But it's not just about drawing women to the industry, the speakers said. The real issue is keeping them in their jobs — and helping them climb upward — once they reach the midstages of their careers.
Something Sayko said could help was teaching managers "inclusive behaviors."
"If folks don't feel included and feel they don't belong, you're not going to get the best out of them," Sayko said.
Pollock said other things — like globally consistent maternity leave policies and forced paternity leave for men, as well as keeping a hybrid work schedule — can make for a more inclusive and sustainable workplace for women.
The panelists are also considering the needs of future employees in Gen Z and Gen Alpha.
Nancy Sims, president and CEO at the Toigo Foundation, said younger employees will be focused on opportunities for advancement and want to see a clear path to professional development. They are also more focused on a prospective company's mission and values, and will find sponsorship — not just mentorship — "critical."