International Women’s Day: New studies underline work still to do to improve gender diversity in business and finance

Mar 08, 2021
New reports released to mark the occasion

In the run-up to International Women’s Day, various organizations conducted new research looking at the role of women in business and finance. As the studies show, there is still plenty of work to do to improve gender diversity within companies and financial markets. There is also recognition, however, of the progress made on gender diversity and the key role diverse workforces play in successful companies. Below, we round up some of the findings.

‘Daves’ outnumber women in UK fund management industry
Women remain ‘woefully under-represented’ in the European fund management industry, according to a study by Morningstar out today. The research finds male fund managers outnumber female counterparts in the UK, Italy, Spain and France. Looking specifically at the UK, there are actually more male fund managers called Dave or David (68) than all the female managers put together (45), says Morningstar.

World’s largest companies unlikely to appoint female leaders
Large companies remain far more likely to hire a man than a woman to run the business, finds a study by shareholder advisory firm SquareWell. The research, reported by the Financial Times, looks at CEO or executive chair appointments at the world’s 500 largest companies over the last two years, revealing that just one in 10 were female. Across all the companies, women are in charge at just 5 percent.

More diversity = better returns and lower risk
S&P 500 companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion outperform their less diverse peers, according to a note last week from Bank of America’s global research team. Companies with above-average gender diversity on the board see a 15 percent higher return on equity and lower earnings risk, says the study. The findings, covered in this Yahoo! Finance article, also show companies with above-average racial and ethnic diversity in the workforce see an 8 percent higher return on equity.

Proportion of women on boards doubles in 10 years 
In a further note released today, Bank of America analysts highlight a significant increase in the number of female directors at large European companies. Looking at the MSCI Europe Large Cap Index, the bank finds 34 percent female representation on boards in 2020, compared with 15 percent in 2010. But the proportion of companies with an equal or greater number of female directors is just 9 percent, with most of these businesses found in France.

Diversity is most common human capital management question, say IROs
While it wasn’t released specifically to mark International Women’s Day, IR Magazine’s recent Human Capital Management report underlines the growing importance of diversity to the buy side when making investment decisions. Diversity is the most common human capital management issue for investors to ask companies about, according to the findings, which are based on a global survey of more than 350 IR professionals. 

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