Gender Diversity Key to Corporate Success - Fund Manager Roundup

Gender Diversity Key to Corporate Success - Fund Manager Roundup - Nordea AM

Companies with a higher level of gender diversity tend to be more successful, and while companies increasingly recognize this, there is a long way ahead, say Julie Bech and Audhild Aabo, portfolio managers for Nordea Asset Management's global gender diversity strategy. The following is a selection of their comments.

Gender Diversity Key to Corporate Success

There is a correlation between a company's level of gender diversity and its success, say Julie Bech and Audhild Aabo, portfolio managers for Nordea Asset Management's global gender diversity strategy. "Human capital is a key factor behind a company's profitability, and it is difficult for a competitor to copy the skills of outstanding employees," they say. A company which is able to expand its recruitment base will have an edge on the competition. Diversity is quite often a result of an inclusive and supportive business culture, the portfolio managers say.

Companies Still a Long Way From Gender Parity

Many companies acknowledge the benefits of gender diversity, but "we are a long way from gender parity," say Julie Bech and Audhild Aabo, portfolio managers for Nordea Asset Management's global gender diversity strategy. Even in Scandinavia, a region often recognized for its high degree of gender diversity, there is still a way to go, with "hidden biases" being an obstacle, they say. "This is a type of unconscious attitude towards people, which can be extremely detrimental in the recruiting process and ultimately lead to a lack of diversity," the portfolio managers say.

Talent Development May Improve Gender Balance in Companies

Government incentives to facilitate equal participation for men and women may help to improve the gender balance in companies, but companies themselves must also act, say Julie Bech and Audhild Aabo, portfolio managers for Nordea Asset Management's global gender diversity strategy. Increased focus by companies on internal talent development should help to ensure there are both women and men who are qualified candidates at each level of the company's hierarchy, they say. "We do believe corporations are starting to realise this and are implementing necessary changes," they say. Even countries such as Scandinavia, where the higher education split has been close to 50/50 for many years, still have work to do.

Companies' Sustainability Focus Is Mostly on Environment

Companies are "acutely aware" of the need to improve sustainability, but often most of the emphasis is on environmental factors and less on social and governance factors, say Julie Bech and Audhild Aabo, portfolio managers for Nordea Asset Management's global gender diversity strategy. As understanding of sustainability evolves, the portfolio managers expect more focus to be placed on non-environmental ESG factors, such as diversity. "Like we saw with environmental considerations, capital will become more readily available for companies leading the way in diversity," they say. Companies will increasingly realize this and step up efforts to address this issue, Bech and Aabo say.

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