We’re taking meaningful steps to improve gender diversity
Building an equal and inclusive workplace for all our employees is a key priority at AXA IM. Not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s essential for the commercial success of our business. We know that maintaining a gender balance is crucial to better understand customers and market opportunities, to make more informed decisions, and to achieve advantageous financial performance.
A challenge facing the asset management industry globally is the underrepresentation of women in the workforce, plus even higher levels of gender imbalance in senior and investment roles. At AXA IM, it is encouraging that women represent 44% of our Management Board but we recognise there is still much more to be done.
Our ambition is to achieve sustainable gender balance at all levels of the organisation, to ensure a solid framework of gender inclusive policies and to build a truly inclusive workplace culture. To achieve our goals, we are undertaking proactive steps to improve gender equality, by launching a comprehensive action plan that:
- nurtures the career progression of our internal talent – through coaching, mentoring, supporting our working families, embracing flexible working and building inclusive leadership skills;
- showcases AXA IM as a truly inclusive employer to both internal and prospective talent;
- rigorously monitors our progress in ensuring equal opportunity in all aspects of employment.
Supporting the Women’s Empowerment Principles
In 2019, we were one of the 65 investors to take action for gender equality by supporting a statement calling companies to advance women’s empowerment in the workplace. In particular, it reiterates our expectations for companies to endorse the Women's Empowerment Principles – a UN Women and UN Global Compact initiative - and report in a transparent way on their actions and outcomes. This initiative also calls us to strengthen our commitments and take decisive and concrete actions towards gender equality in the workplace, marketplace and community where we do business.
We have already taken some concrete actions, which include among all of them:
- The specific objective our Management Board members have within their targets to increase the number of women at senior levels and to actively demonstrate their support for building a more diverse and inclusive business;
- Our commitment to ensure that no practices, procedures, attitudes or behaviours allow discrimination;
- The proactive steps we are undertaking to improve gender equality, with a particular focus on nurturing the career progression of our internal talent – through coaching, mentoring, supporting our working families, embracing flexible working and building inclusive leadership skills and more;
- Our involvement in several external organisations who are dedicated to promoting equality, including the Diversity Project, 30% club, Girls who Invest and the Investment Association.
This commitment follows the signing by AXA Group of the Women’s Empowerment Principles in December 2018.
Our commitment to gender equality for companies we do business with
Our research reiterates the importance of gender equality for investors from a financial and impact perspective. It provides innovative and substantial investment framework for our analysts, PMs and the market.
1:1 and collaborative engagement
We aim at driving changes in investee companies through frequent and active discussion around gender equality. We are also part of the Workforce Disclosure Initiative (WDI) to encourage companies to report on meaningful and actionable gender-related data; and the 30% Investor Club in the UK, which seeks to increase gender footprint at governance and leadership levels.
Our gender diversity voting policy echoes our engagement efforts. It is revised every year. In 2019, in addtion to the vote against all male board in developed market economies, we set up a specific carve-out for the USA and the UK. We expect board companies from these countries to include at least two female directors or at least 20% of women (US); and at least 25% female (UK). We will continue to fine tune our approach for all other markets.
Gender diversity impact strategy
At AXA IM, we manage a dedicated gender impact strategy, entitled Women Empowerment, and as such engage with transitioning companies and educate investors on the investment and business case in favour of gender equality. Within this strategy, we specifically direct capital to companies which have demonstrated best-in-class gender equality practices.
Proud signatory to the Women in Finance Charter
When we signed up to the Charter in November 2017, we had 32% females in our global senior executive population.
Our goal was to reach 40% by the end of 2020. As at the end of June 2020 we are at 30% females in our global senior management population at Management Board-1 level and 38% at Management Board level.
We acknowledge we will not meet our target, and we are disappointed to see this year’s figures indicate a decrease from last year. This is partly due to the fact our senior executive population is a relatively small group of people and the numbers fluctuate very easily based on the natural departure or hire of individuals across the year. However, we fully acknowledge we need to go further to accelerate our progress as a business and as part of the wider asset management industry.
We have been working to implement actions to continue supporting our ambitious goal. This includes; undertaking EDGE certification, a set of principles for the hiring of senior roles with gender balanced panels and open advertising, ensuring gender diversity is a key element of our talent management and succession planning processes, delivering global coaching and mentoring programmes, providing support for our working families globally and taking steps to increase the ability to add flexibility to work commitments.
We are now in the process of examining our data to identify the specific areas where we need to improve and look at what further strategies we can implement. We remain fully committed to doing everything we can to build a diverse and inclusive company that offers equal access to support and opportunity for both men and women.
We recognise this is an issue that is felt across the wider asset management industry and we will continue to work with our peers to help nurture a strong pipeline of female talent for the future. A cultural shift is needed to change perceptions of the industry to encourage more women to pursue a career in this industry. We are very conscious of how crucial it is for us to actively play our part in ensuring change for the long-term.
AXA IM receives EDGE certification for gender equality practices
At AXA IM, we are proud that we have been certified for our gender equality practices by EDGE (Economic Dividends for Gender Equality). Having independently reviewed our organisation’s ability to foster gender equality, and benchmarked this against both global standards and our peers, EDGE has determined that AXA IM has made a global commitment to gender equality in the workplace. This provides a good foundation from which to build sustainable progress in the future. Find out more
Supporting greater transparency in gender pay reporting
AXA IM fully supports the new legislation introduced in 2017 that requires all UK employers with more than 250 employees to annually publish their gender pay gap data. This new strategy not only aims to raise awareness of the pay gap that exists widely across the UK, but also encourages businesses to play an active role in closing the gap within the UK labour market.
Take a look at our 2019 UK Gender Pay Gap Report here