Fund management needs to tackle its gender issues

Bethany Rutter

Almost a third of female asset management staff have been subjected to sexual harassment at work.

These are the findings of an FTfm survey of 340 staff of global fund management companies. Women are leaving the industry, in their words, “as a direct result of gender discrimination and harassment”.

In terms of professional pursuits (in essence, in terms of anything other than, at a push, athletics) biological determinism falls flat. There is no conscionable reason for women to be less employed or less employable than men in any job in financial services.

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The gender problem in fund management reveals itself so clearly to be a question of mentality when it comes to asking how good a company is at supporting female career progression. Ask men how their company does at supporting women up the career ladder and 57 per cent say it’s good. Ask women the same thing, and that number drops to less than a third.

The implications of this are huge when taken into consideration with the fact that 44 per cent of respondents said they have no senior female role models to aspire to. Women are not progressing to high-level positions, and women do not feel companies are good at supporting their progress. If men are overwhelmingly at the top of fund management companies, then it is less surprising that they are unable to identify the problems that are faced exclusively by women.

While I am not saying men are unable to sympathise or see women’s issues as a problem, the disparity between the answers from male respondents and female respondents shows the men in fund management are not taking the problems seriously enough. This research done by an institution outside of fund management shows exactly what the problems are. It’s now up to the industry to solve them.