Decades of initiatives to increase diversity within the finance industry have produced limited results. None of the major U.S. banks have ever had a woman chief executive officer. Women and people of color are still underrepresented throughout the asset management industry. So we went around the world asking for advice on what needs to be done.

Monica Hsiao
Founder, Triada Capital Ltd. • Hong Kong
There’s still a boys-club mentality and network that’s alive and well, even today. This doesn’t stop women from advancing, but there’s no natural propellant to enable women to compete on the same footing either.

This isn’t an issue of men vs. women, though. It’s just that we should have a cultural change in viewing some fields as naturally more male- or female-dominant, and both men and women should be more aware of the biases/perception they may hold when interacting with each other. This may seep into their dealings and comfort in forming connections, and that, in turn, can affect the atmosphere of a workplace.

This similarly goes for racial differences. In some cases you see promotion of more women and minority representation on corporate boards, for example. I do think we need more role models to break through the glass ceiling to start changing some perceptions. The industry has talked about earmarking funds to go to women- and minority-led funds in the U.S., for example, but we haven’t seen enough evidence of the flows really going that direction to make much difference.

Jane Goodland
Corporate Affairs Director, Quilter PLC
 • London
It is too early to say the finance industry has failed on diversity. There are many indicators that the sector is moving in the right direction. However, the pace of change needs to accelerate. Covid-19 could be a stimulus to expedite that change. Mindsets are shifting, with diversity being seen as contributing to strong and resilient businesses rather than being a problem that needs to be fixed.

There are clear signs that the Covid-19 crisis, over the longer term, will help to accelerate a move to a flexible working culture in the finance sector. As a sector known historically for its long-hours culture—with only 7% of employees working part time, compared to a U.K. average of 28%—that would be a necessary and welcome reset. [It would] enable everyone to have more choice and flexibility over their work, which means greater equality both at work and home for both men and women. It’s vital that firms adapt. Otherwise, they’ll fail to attract and retain the most talented people.

Cynthia DiBartolo
Chief Executive Officer, Tigress Financial Partners
 • New York
Unless you tie compensation to these initiatives, you’re never going to see it change. Unless you change the compensation, it ain’t happening. Compensation drives behavior; behavior drives performance.

I don’t think that it should be about shaming if the numbers are low. I think it should be about collectively coming together to change the numbers. If you don’t diagnose that you’re sick, you’re never going to get well. The numbers, while they may not be pretty, give you an opportunity to fix what’s broken.

[C-suite executives need to take the lead.] They’ve been playing this game that they punt back and forth with no ownership.

David Mathers
Chief Financial Officer, Credit Suisse Group AG
 • Zurich
Having access to reliable data and insights enables us to concentrate our efforts in the right places. We can make effective change and support our employees regardless of their identity—race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, and so on—to progress to senior roles. We can remove potential confirmation bias from our processes—such as recruitment and performance management, compensation decision-making, leadership development, and promotions—and use targets to measure progress. Without targeted action, we cannot change the profile of our workforce or improve diversity statistics.

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