“A global study of how women are advancing within the alternative investment sector, covering areas such as private equity and hedge funds, shows that they are making progress but a wide gap between them and their male peers remains.”
Tom Brown, the KPMG group’s global head of asset management, said that the landscape is changing “even in the highly male-dominated alternative investments industry.” He credited investors more than fund managers for promoting the change.
According to the study, men and women have different views on the progress of diversity in their industry. For example, 20 percent more men than women think that enough is being done to solve the problem in gender diversity. Also, two-thirds of men and half of the women believe that their company is doing enough about diversity.
Tangible improvements in diversity are being made in Europe where governments actively play a role in improving gender equality on corporate boards. An example of this includes the UK which requires gender pay gap reports from companies.
In the US, investment house TPG requires at least one woman on the board of the companies in its portfolio. This move has added 20 women to board positions.
The study also shows an increase from 11% to 42% of fund managers that ask companies to increase their diversity efforts. Investors who plan to ask for a diversity report from their investment teams also increased to 75% from 60% last year.
Research shows that diversity makes good business sense. According to John Hershey, Oregon State Treasury’s director of alternative investments, diversity leads to better understanding of the markets and participants, which can result in better investment decisions.
Some organizations in the US are sharing guidelines to assess gender diversity for companies. These mentoring ideas include formal mentoring for women or minorities, working for the advancement of women or minorities, recruiting processes that ensure equal opportunities for men and women and has the system for reporting and handling complaints of discrimination or sexual harassment.
KPMG UK real estate partner Sarah Hayes said that “We are a very long way from achieving anything that looks like equality,” considering that more than half of the male respondents in the study think that enough is being done about gender diversity. The overall picture is that, in spite of the improvements, women still face an uphill battle to reach C-level positions in various companies.