There is consistent research that show gender-diverse teams perform better than less diverse ones. This has been proven to be true both for companies and investment firms. Yet women continue to be underrepresented worldwide, across the global workforce, across senior management positions, and across board rooms. While there remain structural barriers that can inhibit women from reaching these positions, there are steps that companies and fund managers can take to actively seek out, build and retain diverse teams.
At a minimum, all companies must comply with local regulations and should include within their employment and human resources policies commitments to gender equality. Further information on managing gender-based risks and discrimination, and guidance on recruitment and terms of employment can be found the BII ESG Toolkit for Fund Managers.
- Unconscious biasUnconscious bias plays a key, yet often unacknowledged role in decision-making. This extends to decisions made on hiring and building teams. Acknowledging and addresses biases can break down barriers and open opportunities for new, diverse people and approaches. The note on Tackling Unconscious Bias provides practical tips for reducing bias in people assessment meetings.
- Gender neutral hiringLanguage can serve to break down gender disparities or further enforce them. This can often be seen in the language used for job descriptions. There are certain qualifications or characteristics that are interpreted as more masculine, which can deter well-qualified female candidates. Changing the language to be more gender neutral can attract a more gender-balanced pool of applicants. The note on Gender-neutral Job Descriptions provides guidance on how to develop a gender-neutral job description.
- Gender equal developmentKey to building and maintaining gender-diverse teams is ensuring that there is equal opportunity and development. Companies and firms can do this by assessing where and why gender gaps exists, particularly across wages, promotions and progression, policies and benefits. Increasingly government and human resources institutions are publishing tools to measure gender pay gaps. The note on Gender Pay Gap Analysis provides guidance on how to use analysis to better understand the reasons for gender pay gaps between men and women, including the most common issues such as recruitment, attrition, progression, promotion and return-to-work rates among women employees.
BII has supported the Financial Alliance for Women to publish a guide to Gender Diversity and Inclusion for Financial Institutions, which outlines practical steps and example case studies to increasing gender diversity.
Detailed steps and guidance on how to strengthen diversity can be found in section Strengthening Diversity and the Firm/ Fund Manager Level in Private Equity and Value Creation: A Fund Manager’s Guide to Gender-smart Investing.
It is important to note that the content of the Gender Toolkit is based on a binary identification of gender and does not assess non-male or non-female identities across the spectrum. Additional research is needed to understand the role that the intersectionality of sex, race, class, gender, and other key identifiers play in investment and business performance. Gender represents only one form of diversity, and there are many others that can create value.
Gender is part of a broader landscape of workplace diversity and inclusion and can be considered in the context of intersectionality with other protected characteristics such as sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, age and disability. Gender diversity can help to start the conversation and establish policies, processes and cultural shifts that are applicable and help to accelerate other forms of D&I.
Further information on gender, diversity and inclusion can be found on the Resources page.