Parents, or those looking after elders and pets, have managed to balance their work and home lives — with employers accepting of distractions and other responsibilities. "It has become completely accepted and 100% tolerated" that when a child is crying in the background it needs to be attended to, Amundi's Ms. Jones said.
The culture that already exists within a firm will also be important in promoting more flexibility in this current environment. "We're not only at home trying to do our jobs, but for many women that had child care, they can no longer (depend on that) so they are home-schooling, too," said Saira Malik, head of global equities at Nuveen LLC in San Francisco. Ms. Malik has two young daughters, one of whom is studying online.
"It's been a big conversation for us. The nice thing is it's quite a meritocracy (at Nuveen) — you're judged on how your investments do, and you can do that at your own pace. It does offer a lot of flexibility," she said.
Of PGIM's workforce, 97% is working remotely, Ms. Sayko said. "My hope is one of the silver linings to this pandemic is flexible working, and (that) working from home will no longer be stigmatized ... it's particularly important to leveling playing fields," she said.
Executives at the CFA Institute have also seen the current work-from-home environment boost inclusivity. The CFA Institute has been holding quarterly catch-up calls with money managers and asset owners involved in its multiyear Experimental Partners Program, a series of roundtables formed to encourage diversity across the industry, said Sarah Maynard, London-based global head, external diversity and inclusion strategies and programs. All members of the staff are becoming more visible in the pivot to working from home, she said.
Participants in the CFA's program are having more human, more relatable lines of communications as pets and children make a screen appearance during video calls, she said. And working hours are shifting as senior managers start to recognize that most of the child care and elder care responsibility falls to women. These managers realize that employees are working late at night to cover the ground lost during the day. Essential calls now are being timed appropriately to accommodate the responsibilities people have at home, Ms. Maynard said.
The current environment is not only showing traditional managers that remote working is achievable, but also at alternatives firms — although risks remain since so much of these businesses depend on relationships and networking.
"The rapid shift to remote work offers both opportunity and risk to diversity efforts in venture capital," said Maryam Haque, senior vice president of industry advancement for the National Venture Capital Association, Washington.
In some cases, remote work may create a more even playing field for handling child care and other responsibilities at home, she said. The elimination of travel requirements may also mitigate obstacles that hindered some company founders seeking venture capital funding.
"However, a new set of considerations and potential biases are likely to (arise) in the new world of remote work," Ms. Haque said.
It will be a bumpy transition to remote work because venture capital investing is mainly based on networks, relationships, in-person pitches and frequent in-person meetings, she said.
And beyond recruiting women, the move toward remote working means firms may be more open to hiring people based in different states. "I think we will see lots of positive improvements," Ms. Jones added.