Ms. Sawtell-Rickson stopped short of saying HESTA would stop working with managers who failed to show they were making inroads on diversity, but said the fund was increasingly applying a "gender lens" to investments.
"That's both in terms of the type of managers as well as the type of investments that they're undertaking," she said. "The classic example that is given is private equity funds tend to support more male-led entrepreneurs than female-led entrepreneurs."
HESTA's report adds to mounting data showing just how much progress is needed before workforce gender parity, including equal pay, is reached. A global survey published last year by Citywire, tracking just over 17,500 active managers, showed only 18% of the world's funds are run by women or a team with at least one woman.
Meanwhile, Australian data show there was a gender pay gap of 28.6% in financial and insurance services in 2022. The government has ruled that companies with more than 100 employees will have to reveal their gender pay gaps beginning next year, as part of new income inequality legislation.
The HESTA report recommends that firms set time-bound targets for gender diversity, conduct regular analysis of the gender pay gap and have inclusive recruitment and promotion practices. Ms. Sawtell-Rickson is proud of the progress that HESTA has made in gender parity, but there's still more to do.
"We're also doing a lot of deliberate mentoring and leadership training to really make sure we're bringing diverse talent through the levels, which continues to be a challenge in the industry, including for us," she said.