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SUSTAINABLE VIEW FEATURES


Thewaywetalk about diversity is very gender-focused and creates a barrier, as if talking aboutwomenprogressing mustmeanthatmenare regressing


GINAMILLER SCM-DIRECT


middlemanagement roles in financial servicesthananyother sector. “Be it the culture, theway they are


treated or micro aggression,some work has to be done as towhy that is happening,”pondersMsMiller. Leadership must have a very


active, strategic roleandmust engage at all levels of the business. “The culture—what is allowedandwhat is acceptable in business—comes fromthe top, because if leaders are not leading theway, then others will decide theirownpath.” Linking executives’ pay to diversity


targets is an effective strategy in ensuring thatbusiness leaders are held accountableonequality data. “I do think thatmoney talks,andtheir bonuses should haveanelement built into itwhichreflects cultural elements of the business.” Companies should provide


continual assessment andtraining onunconscious biases and gaslighting. This is a very serious, but “little talked about” psychological approach,where people manipulate andmake others feel inferior to themselves, belittling them.


TOXICTOKENISM The analysis of diversity data is key to monitoring progress. Today, in the City,womenrepresent only 17 per cent of individuals approved by the FinancialConductAuthority. In the UK, female fundmanagers run just less than 8 per cent of totalUKfunds, according toMorningstar. Similar stats are found in other European countries, suchas Italy andFrance.Womenfundmanagers account for just 11 per cent of the profession globally,upfrom10.3 per cent since 2016, according to Citywire. At current rates of progress, it will take another 200 years for female fundmanagers to reachequal representation.


That there arenotenoughwomen


in the pipelineis justan“excuse”, believesMsMiller.“Thepool is overflowingwith talentedand experiencedwomen.It isupto the companies togoandfindthemand reassuretheywouldbewelcome.” Womenneedrolemodelsandneed


tobeable to seewomen“wholook likethemselvesandaresucceeding, putthehandout to themandhelp themupthe ladder”.Shesuggests companiesshouldputmorewomen upformedia—this isimportant not onlytoimprovepublic perception, but alsofor attractingdiversetalent into anorganisation. Shestronglycondemns tokenism,


where‘tokens’ are“trottedout” every timetheyareneededforan articleondiversity. Sincethe recent BlackLives Matter protests, several bigcompanieschangedtheimagery in their brochuresandwebsites almostovernight,addingaveneer of diversity withoutimplementingany fundamentalchangeunderneath. “Youmayputalickof paintonanold car, but it is stillanoldbanger—it’s what isunderneath [thesurface] that matters. I thinkit is quiteaninsult, what somanyfirmshavedone.” Astrong believer in blindCVs,


whichomit any personal details that refer to the applicant’s gender, ageandethnicity,MsMiller thinks universities should be classifiedin tiers, to rebalance the strong bias that favours Oxford, Cambridge or Durhamgraduates in the UK. “If you look at the boards in the City, it is quite extraordinaryhowfewpeople have comefromother universities or parts of the country.” Yet,MsMiller isnot a fan of


diversity quotas.She is “sympathetic” to the argument, but experience in other countries showsnoevidence that this systemhasmadea significant difference in the long


term.“Quotas have actually created more angstandanxiety within organisations.”Womenthemselves feel diminished by the approach, makingthem questionthe real reason behindtheir success.


LOOKINGAHEAD For all its devastating effects on people and the economy, the Covid-19 pandemic has strongly bolstered the concept of responsible capitalism,where companies’ success and leadership goals are not only judged on profits, but also on howthey affect people and planet, with climate risk being one of the biggest challenges. Firms’ ethics are more strongly scrutinised. “Brand andhowbrand equityworks in the mind of the consumer is going to be a massive issue going forward,” addsMsMiller. “For us as industry, we have a long way to go.Wedo have a trust issue, we do have far toomany scandals, wedo have toomany companieswho fly by the seats of their pants and think about fines, or being caught, as the cost of doing business.” Companieswho have got their


heads “buried in the sand” and do not see the generational shift after this pandemic are going to suffer. There is a corporate risk of not only failing toembracing equality and diversity, but also for failing to side with consumers’ collective conscience. The pandemic has been a shock


to theworld and shockwaves from it have touched every single part of our lives. But it has also highlighted long-standing issues across society, business and politics, quickening the pace of those conversations in unimaginableways,MsMiller adds. “I think the pandemic will be transformational inmany more positive than negativeways.”


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