media release 


15 June 2021    


Survey points to improved gender diversity in funds management but progress stalls for senior roles


More women are working for listed and unlisted fund managers than ever before, but the historically male-dominated industry still has much work to do to improve gender diversity, the latest HESTA research reveals.


Survey responses from 60 of the industry super fund’s investment partners found the proportion of women in investment management roles at an aggregate level had improved from 17% in 2018 to 22% in 2020.


Improvement was predominately from an increase in women working in more junior roles, with unlisted fund managers the main contributor to better gender balance across the Fund’s investment partners.


Women filled 24% of investment team roles at unlisted managers surveyed, up from 17% in 2018. Listed managers diversity shifted slightly, increasing from 16% to 17% in 2020.


“The overall improvement is encouraging, given the historic under-representation of women in the funds management industry, HESTA CIO Sonya Sawtell-Rickson said.


“However, there is still much work to be done, particularly if we’re to see more women progress to senior decision-making roles,”


“There is ample evidence of the benefits of diversity in identifying the best talent and building strong, inclusive teams that consider a broad range of perspectives.”


“We want to ensure our members are benefiting from this ‘diversity dividend’ that can help drive continued strong, long-term investment performance.”


Improvement in female representation was mainly driven by more women filling mid-level investment roles. For listed managers, there was an increase in the percentage of roles held by women at the levels of Head of Investments (11% in 2018 vs 14% in 2020) and Portfolio Manager (10% versus 14%).


While for unlisted managers, there was a general increase in the percentage of roles held by women, with notable growth at the Senior Vice President (19% in 2018 vs 32% in 2020), Investment Director (23% vs 28%) and Managing Director (6% vs 20%) levels.


However, in the senior investment leadership roles for both listed and unlisted managers, numbers have not changed since 2018. There are still no female Chief Investment Officers in listed managers, and in unlisted managers, women at the Partner level remains unchanged at 10%.


The survey findings form part of a broader focus at the Fund on improving gender diversity across its ‘investment value chain’ – spanning internal investment operations, external investment partnerships and the companies HESTA invests in on behalf of members.


HESTA is a leading voice in calling for more women on the boards of ASX200 companies, committing in 2017 to vote against directors up for election on all-male boards. HESTA was also the founding investor of the 40:40 Vision, which aims to achieve gender balance in the ranks the senior leadership of ASX200 companies within the decade.


Launched late last year, 40:40 Vision has already had companies with a market capitalisation worth collectively close to $300bn, or 13% of the index, sign up to improve gender diversity among Australia’s corporate leadership.


Ms Sawtell-Rickson said the ambitious aims of 40:40 Vision extended to improving gender balance in the investment management industry.


“More than 80% of our members are women so gender diversity and equality are important focus areas for HESTA,” Ms Sawtell-Rickson said.


“More inclusive workplaces can improve the long-term performance of companies and provide greater career opportunities for women, generally benefiting the financial future of HESTA members.”


“Our ultimate ambition is to achieve gender balance – 40% identifying as women, 40% identifying as men and 20% any identification – and eliminate gender pay gaps that may exist across our investment value chain,” Ms Sawtell-Rickson said.



Other findings:


Listed managers:

  • The % of roles women were hired for fell at Portfolio Manager (17% 2018 vs 13% in 2020) and Senior Investment Analyst (33% vs 20%)
  • Women leaving investment teams altogether notably increased at Portfolio Manager level from 0% to 11% in 2020
  • Internal promotions were noticeably lower for female Portfolio Managers (20% in 2018 vs 4% in 2020), Senior Investment Analysts (45% vs 36%) and Investment Analysts (40% vs 17%).

Unlisted managers:

  • More women were hired at all levels, except Partner
  • The biggest increase was at Senior Vice President where women were hired for 38% of roles compared to 20% in 2018
  • Promotions for women materially increased at Partner (0% in 2018 vs 15% of roles in 2020), Managing Director (0% vs 28%), Senior/Vice President (21% vs 44%) and Senior Investment Analyst (11% vs 24%) levels
  • Gains in female representation through hiring and promotion were offset by women leaving the investment team at Partner (11% in 2018 v 17% in 2020), Managing Director (0% vs 22%), Investment Director (11% vs 28%) and Senior/Vice President (30% v 37%) levels.          


About the survey


  • Listed managers include: Australian and International Equities, Cash and Fixed Interest and Liquid Alternatives investment managers.
  • Unlisted managers include: Property, Infrastructure, Private Equity and Alternatives investment managers.
  • The two surveys conducted with HESTA investment partners took place in 2018 and 2020, looking at the calendar years from 1 January to 31 December for 2017 and 2019, respectively.  





Media contact:

Sam Riley

General Manager Media Relations

(03) 8660 1684


Back to Media Centre