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Asset management 'still a boys' club'

02/12/13

The financial services sector has taken many steps over the last few years to rehabilitate its
reputation for being something of a boys' club, as diversity becomes central to many business plans
and vocal female leaders drive changes in the industry.

However, asset management is still suffering from many of the same retrogressive attitudes seen
decades ago, according to a new report from the Financial Times.

It surveyed 340 global fund management staff to reveal 55 per cent of women have been on the
receiving end of inappropriate office behaviour, with a third feeling subject to sexist comments or
actions on a monthly basis.

One female respondent to the survey, who works at a large US fund house, claimed several of her
colleagues have left the industry "as a direct result of gender discrimination".

Another female executive working in continental Europe declared the few women who work at
her alternative fund company are treated like auxiliary members of staff compared to their male
counterparts.

These responses are concerning in an industry which appeared to have cleaned up its act and
suggest more needs to be done to create a diverse and welcoming culture in such environments.

However, many senior executives talking to the Financial Times claimed never to have experienced
or noticed any sexism within their organisation.

Shiv Taneja, managing director of Cerulli Associates, urged firms to become more "transparent"
about their diversity processes in order to end these problems and help female staff fulfil their
potential in the financial services sector.

Some asset management firms are considering introducing compulsory training for all staff
members to help them combat unconscious bias and other diversity issues.

Despite these troubling warnings, there have been major steps taken to help more women succeed in the finance sector. Marks Sattin's Women in Leadership Forum, launched in 2012, invited inspiring female executives such as KPMG's Melanie Richards to discuss their experiences and help develop new systems to promote gender diversity in the sector.

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