Changing the way in which job adverts are written and requiring search firms to include relevant female candidates have been recommended to increase gender diversity in the investment industry.

Heather Brilliant, CFA board member and chief executive of Morningstar Australia, told attendees at the CFA Societies’ Australia Investment Conference in Sydney, that single sex investment teams, regardless of whether they are all male or all female, underperform mixed gender teams giving added impetus for the need to improve diversity.

She listed four simple methods for tackling the issue: including women on the interview panel; adjusting how job descriptions are communicated; requiring search firms to produce credible women; and reaching beyond the traditional networks.

Brilliant said it was important to include women in the interview process because of the diversity of views it brought into the selection of new staff.

And that adjusting job descriptions to make it clear what is optional would attract more female candidates, because women are less likely than men to apply for a role if they don’t tick all of the boxes.

She shared a story about a large asset management firm that had used such practices and seen a large increase in the number of women applying as a result.

“I want you to think about it. To think through some of your job descriptions and make sure it is really clear what is required and what is nice to have and see if it makes a difference when you communicate that way,” she said.

Requiring search firms to produce credible women was a necessary step as it has been a common, and lamentable, practice to only include them when asked, she said.

Reaching beyond traditional networks and thinking with an open mind about people who might contribute to teams was another of Brilliant’s suggestions. She rationalised that more perspective can be brought into the industry by including people with different backgrounds.

“There’s one other idea I would highlight and that is women advocate for themselves differently than men,” Brilliant said.

“Studies have shown women are less likely to ask for a raise and ask for a promotion, so it’s really important that as the leaders of firms that we are here representing today, that we take that into consideration and ensure we are creating a collaborative environment where women can advance in their careers.”

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