Gender diversity has been on the radar in the alternative investment space for some time, and the results of KPMG's recent The Call to Act: Women in Alternative Investments Report are the most compelling yet. The issues surrounding diversity in businesses are complex and the solutions may not always be easy. But the conversations are continuing, and change is becoming the norm, rather than the exception.
Money has been flooding into the alternatives investments sector thanks to the sluggish performance of other asset classes. The alternative investments industry is still dominated by men, and for it to remain competitive in the future, there must be continued progress towards a diverse work environment. Like an investment portfolio, a diverse business is a better business.
The investors who make a huge portion of the industry are driving change. The report states that 75 percent will ask investment teams about their firm's diversity efforts, compared to 60 percent last year. In addition, 37 percent will require disclosure of diversity statistics for all potential investments (16 percent last year), and 42 percent will require firms in their portfolio to improve diversity (11 percent last year). These figures show that diversity is not simply the latest trend, something to be showcased for awhile before being allowed to fade away. Rather, it is a business imperative. Alternative investment firms must embrace the change to stay competitive.
Although investor support is growing, industry-wide change will only occur when firms take practical steps to improve gender diversity. Here are some of the key findings from the report:
Although KPMG's findings show that women and men agree that achieving gender diversity is an important business objective, there is much less agreement over whether enough is being done to advance women in alternative investments. 65 percent of women believe that the sector is not doing enough to advance women, compared to 45 percent of men, for example. This evidence shows that more work needs to be done for gender diversity in the alternatives investment sector. And while we have focussed on gender diversity here, diversity in all respects is an ethical and business imperative and every leader needs to ask themselves if they are doing enough.