Money managers have installed new metrics and policies across their businesses as part of their continuing efforts to promote the importance of having women represented in senior roles.
The latest moves include the use of technology to track progress and increased education to help retain and promote women within money management firms.
A number of studies have shown that improved company performance can come with increased gender diversity in the workplace. A 2018 study by McKinsey & Co., for example, found that companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity in their executive teams were 21% more likely to outperform on profitability. These firms were also 27% more likely to have "superior value creation," the study said.
"At Goldman Sachs Asset Management, we believe that having a diverse team is as important as having a diverse mix of investments in portfolios," said Chairman Sheila H. Patel, London. "When people look at the world differently, they find more solutions to problems and have a better shot at generating strong returns. One area of importance for us is gender diversity."
The firm's fundamental equity investment group is co-headed by Katie Koch and more than half their assets are run by women, Ms. Patel said. GSAM has $1.8 trillion in total assets under supervision. The firm is also "playing an active role in improving the diversity of corporate boards by voting against nominating committees anywhere in the world that fail to include at least one woman," an initiative that came in very recently, Ms. Patel said.
Northern Trust, for example, established a diversity, equity and inclusion dashboard in the third quarter last year, said Shundrawn A. Thomas, president of Chicago-based Northern Trust Asset Management, with $914 billion in assets under management.
The idea is that leaders within the firm can see opportunities from across the business for hiring, promotions and retention from a diversity perspective. "It arms managers across the business to make informed decisions as they seek to drive diversity," he said.
Northern Trust also established new policies around diversity when it comes to interviews. "We have been informally working with partners in HR, talent and recruitment to make sure we are bringing in diverse candidates," Mr. Thomas said. "We also make sure the interview panel is diverse — that's often overlooked."
Increasing female representation at NTAM has been a global effort. The firm's Europe, Middle East and Africa team participates in the Women in Finance Charter — a U.K. organization aiming to build a balanced and fair financial services industry.
NTAM set itself a target when it signed up to the charter in May 2017 to have 35% female representation at senior management level in the U.K. by December this year; as of September, it had 41% representation. When it joined the charter in 2017, female representation at senior level was 31%.
"I believe if you're serious about diversity, you have to start from the top down. One of my concerns has been that so many (firms) go from bottom up," Mr. Thomas said, indicating that a broad intake of employees at a junior level will probably bring a gender balance without focused efforts — but will not necessarily translate to higher female representation in more senior roles.
The firm has put in place a number of programs to promote gender diversity, and 44% of NTAM's hires last year were women, "higher than we have experienced historically — I'm proud of that," Mr. Thomas said. And 35% of promotions at the firm applied to women, up from 26% the year before.
"If you start at the top of asset management, we have 15 members of the executive management team. Six are women. Four have come onto that team in the last few years," Mr. Thomas said. He added that the managing team is also diverse in terms of ethnicity, with nine of the 15 either female and/or from ethnically diverse backgrounds.