The Australian Investment Council is strengthening its commitment to greater diversity within the private capital industry through a new Champions of Change Program announced today.
“Increasing gender diversity within private capital is one of our top priorities as an industry, and this new program will help us to accelerate the pace of change that is taking place,” said Australian Investment Council Chief Executive, Yasser El-Ansary.
The new Champions of Change Program will commence in mid-2019, and will be led by a group of 12 senior leaders from private capital investment firms, as well as key institutional investors such as superannuation and sovereign wealth funds.
“When we looked at the gender balance numbers across our industry late last year, we identified that around 20 percent* all investment professionals were female, representing a significant improvement on where we were a few years ago – but we still have considerable work to do,” said Mr El-Ansary.
Private capital investors have the ability to bring about change very quickly by putting in place targeted strategies that support greater diversity in talent recruitment and selection, as well as retention programs, within their own firms and the businesses they invest into.
“Over the past four years, we’re really proud of the progress we have made in driving meaningful change across the industry through our emerging female leaders mentoring program, collaboration with leading recruitment firms and tertiary institutions, and the development of industry-specific toolkits to help small firms improve their diversity scorecard,” said Mr El-Ansary.
In 2019, the Australian Investment Council will be working closely with all member firms to roll-out changes that are consistent with the expanded due diligence questionnaire recently published by the Institutional Limited Partners Association in the United States.
The new questionnaire has been developed to enhance the level of transparency and accountability between investors and fund managers in relation to policies and procedures for recruitment, promotions, family leave, and mentoring, as well as harassment and discrimination.
“There is no doubt that greater diversity in the composition of top quartile investment teams within private capital firms record a superior ability to innovate and achieve higher returns for their investors,” said Mr El-Ansary.
The push for greater diversity across the sector is also influencing the approach taken to the industry’s highest profile event for the year, the Australian Investment Council’s 2019 conference, which will be held in Melbourne on 11 and 12 September.
“We are setting ourselves a target of improving diversity at our annual conference – we want to have female leaders make-up at least 50 percent of all speakers at this year’s event, which is a step-change from last year’s conference where female speakers represented only 32 percent,” added Mr El-Ansary.
*Women in Private Capital Report – the case for change, September 2019