The Case for Gender Diversity in India

Contributed by- Shivani Chopra, CFA

Women in Investment Management (WIM) is one of the important initiatives of  CFA Institute since its launch in 2015. It acknowledges the underrepresentation of women within the industry, particularly in senior positions. The goals of this initiative have been set accordingly

•    Increase the number of women who join the profession and earn the CFA® charter

•    Retain women in the profession and influence culture from within

•    Create demand for diversity as an industry imperative

Although more awareness is being generated through social media, gender equality in the industry is a global challenge. Some countries like India have more problems than others. In May 2016, CFA Institute completed the largest ever survey on the subject of gender diversity. With women constituting only 11.7% of its CFA Institute members, India ranked a dismal 51st out of 57 countries surveyed. Our immediate neighbour China fared much better and ranked in the top five with 31.3%.

In India, urban female workforce participation rate at 15% is again one of the lowest in the world. What are the main factors that constrain women to join the workforce? The ability of women to seek employment is the outcome of various social and economic factors. The primary responsibility of managing all the household chores, taking care of the dependents, etc is still considered a woman’s duty. Parents instil this mindset in childhood and the result is an increasing number of females staying away from employment. Even the ones who beat the odds and take up the jobs may not get an equitable work culture. So, females regularly find it hard to manage work life balance. Many married women drop out of the workforce when they have children. In our investment management industry, they are confronted with one additional problem. It is widely perceived that this ‘male dominated’ profession demands long hours and higher stress at work. This further discourages women from pursuing a career in this industry and choose a different career path. As a result of all these challenges, their numbers are dwindling in senior positions.

There is an urgent need to acknowledge this issue. Industry studies have shown that mixed gender teams not only offer diversification but also improve investment performance. To attract and retain women professionals-The May 2016 report has outlined the following conclusions

•    Pursue university outreach to let women know of investing as a career, although building math and technical skills must begin even earlier.

•    Make potential entrants to the field aware of the current flexibility within it.

•    Educate firms on the importance of work structure and flexibility

Well, there may be a long way to go, there is a definite wave of change in today’s women in India. Dr. Monika Chopra, CFA (Senior finance faculty at Lal Bahadur Shastri Institute of Management) feels “It goes without saying “A hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” The nature of a woman is caring, loving and giving. Her empathy and power to connect make her successful everywhere and the same applies to the financial world. Bringing women into investment management can ensure diversity which can be a catalyst to drive growth and innovation. The inclusion of women in finance signifies women empowerment, greater shareholder value and alpha delta gamma management by someone who is irrepressible.”

Conclusion:

The Gender diversity challenge in India is closely related to the gender role mindset. We need to educate people regarding the benefits of financially securing women. The employers in our industry will play a very important role in creating an enabling environment as well. As part of the CFA fraternity, let’s join hands to spread awareness and help build a better community where women are able to reach their full potential.

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