Attitude key to greater diversity
CRACKING THE transformation puzzle, it would appear, requires the skills of a Sudoku grandmaster, writes Johann Barnard.
A recent Glacier by Sanlam study revealed women representation in the asset management industry of 18%, with only 4% at fund manager level, and a pitifully low 31% nonwhite representation.
Can anyone say old (white) boys’ club?
Several reasons are given for this slow pace of transformation, but for those on the receiving end of the bias one factor overrides all others: attitude.
“So much more needs to be done just to change the sheer numbers, and that means a lot more needs to be done to make them better homes for people,” says Old Mutual Investment Group MD Khaya Gobodo.
“We need to create an environment across the industry that allows people from different backgrounds, dispositions and races to call those places home so they can build their careers.”
He adds that the industry tends to attract highly skilled and ambitious professionals who would be equally sought after in many other industries and territories.
“These skills are highly mobile, so as an industry if we’re going to win that battle, we have to create an environment that is conducive to housing diversity.”
This is a battle with which RMI Investment Manager CEO Alida de Swardt is well acquainted. She represents a super-minority of women who have scaled the corporate ladder to head an affiliated group of asset management businesses.
Something that has struck her throughout her career is the thinning out of women as they progress through their careers. From graduate classes that have a near even gender split, this changes fairly quickly to a slight male bias at mid-management
This is because we fail to create an ecosystem that is empowering and enabling for all kinds of people
level, then deteriorates rapidly to a male-dominated bias in top leadership, she says.
“This is because we fail to create an ecosystem that is empowering and enabling for all kinds of people. As you move up the ranks, the diversity in the workforce diminishes, and it is at this point that many women assess their career options that are more aligned to their goals and ambitions.”