Gender diversity gives funds half-percent performance lead

Investment teams in the highest quartile of gender diversity outperformed, according to WTW


Asset managers that have a high percentage of women on their investment teams outperform gender-diversity laggards by 45 basis points, a report from WTW has found.

That figure, highlighted on International Women’s Day, points to higher annual net returns for investment teams in the top quartile of gender diversity, versus funds in the lowest diversity quartile.

The biggest delta is in equity strategies, with a 46-bp difference, and the lowest was in credit, at 14 bps, according to WTW. The firm arrived at those figures by examining data provided by eVestment for a total of 543 products with at least a five-year performance record through 2022. It also included diversity data on more than 1,500 strategies, which were provided by asset managers that responded to a questionnaire from WTW.

“There has undoubtedly been progress made on diversity by many asset managers in recent years, but the fact is that the pace of change at an industry level is still slow and disappointing,” WTW head of manager research Chris Redmond commented. “We are hopeful that the truly extraordinary investment performance benefits linked to superior diversity can serve as a catalyst for acceleration.”

While 80% of asset managers have formal diversity, equity and inclusion policies, only about half as many (42%) have any measurable objectives in those policies, WTW found. Additionally, just over half (51%) of managers have diversity initiatives designed to help attract senior-level staff. Some 40% measure pay gaps for gender and ethnicity but not other areas of diversity, according to the report.

While 84% track gender diversity and 72% track ethnicity diversity within their companies, only 31% did so for disability status, nationality (28%), sexual orientation (21%), socioeconomic standing (10%) and neurodiversity (6%).

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