The global investment industry is overweight male, according to the NZ Superannuation Fund (NZS), with top-level gender imbalance explaining a significant portion of the glaring pay gap.
In a statement, the NZS says an overwhelming proportion of men apply for senior investment roles at the fund while conversely there is “no shortage of female candidates for early-career roles”.
“This indicates that while women are entering the industry, the industry has not done a good enough job of retaining women and bringing them through into higher paid jobs,” the NZS says.
Currently, the NZS manages over $36 billion with the new Labour-led government promising to resume contributions to the fund soon after an eight-year hiatus.
As revealed for the first time last week, the NZS reported a 37 per cent ‘gender pay gap’ across the organisation – a discrepancy the NZS attributes to the “predominance of males in senior and investment professional roles”.
However, a 2016 analysis of NZS remuneration practices by global consultancy firm EY found the sovereign fund rewarded male and female employees fairly on a like-for-like basis.
The EY report found NZS “pays women and men equally for work of equal value, and is treating men and women equitably during performance reviews, pay reviews and in the awarding of incentives”.
“While EY’s finding that we pay equally for work of equal value was pleasing, the overall gender pay gap of 37% was larger than we expected,” the NZS says. “…Reducing the gender pay gap will continue to be an ongoing focus.”
NZS has instituted “a number of diversity and inclusiveness initiatives”, the statement says, including “unconscious bias training” and a heightened focus on monitoring gender pay metrics.
“While we can’t control the demographics of the global investment workforce, we are focused on ensuring that the Guardians is an attractive place to work; that people can work flexibly, that the culture here is supportive, and that we invest in staff so they have the opportunity to progress to higher paid roles,” the NZS says.
“… We note that the gender pay gap is a global issue for institutional investors – the Guardians is not alone in having some challenges in this area.”
Last week NZS also added to its responsible investment (RI) credentials joining a new ranking of global sovereign fund leadership in environment, social and governance (ESG) issues.
NZS made the top 25 of 120 sovereign wealth funds and government pension funds assessed under the inaugural Bretton Woods II ‘Responsible Asset Allocator’ project.
The program – developed in conjunction with the Global Development Incubator, Dalberg, and the Tufts University Fletcher School – sifted through 300 funds initially before rating 121 “on 10 principles, including disclosure, integration, commitment, and accountability”.
Bretton Woods II director, Tomicah Tillemann, said in a statement the analysis corrected the “misperception that asset allocators had to choose between maximizing returns and deploying capital responsibly”.
“[The ranked funds] are embracing environmental, social and governance stewardship as core components of their investment decision-making process,” Tillemann said in the statement. “As fiduciaries, many realize that doing so is necessary to maximize risk-adjusted returns.”
The Bretton Woods II ‘Leaders List’ featured six Canadian funds compared to just two from neighbouring US.
Aside from NZS just one other sovereign fund made the list: Commonwealth Superannuation, which manages nine underlying Australian government super schemes.
Operated by US think-tank New America, Bretton Woods II helps asset allocators cut “exposure to risk and volatility through strategic investment in sustainability, development and social impact”.