How is gender equity being reflected in the markets and the corporate environment? Hear from Reynders, McVeigh’s Maria Egan, Vice President and Director of Shareholder Engagement:

 

How does an imbalance in gender equity affect the bottom line?

 

Imbalances in gender equity can negatively impact a company’s bottom line, as diversity in teams, including gender diversity, often leads to enhanced outcomes and better results. While the push for women to have a clearer path to leadership isn’t new, the pandemic cast a spotlight on the challenges women face. Their roles were disproportionately affected when so much of the world shifted the focus to the traditional caregiver role. Coming back out of that environment is a challenge.

 

From a corporate perspective, though, gender equity isn’t just a matter of good ethics, it’s also good business practice: without strong equality programs, companies increase risk of talent attrition.

 

Progress has been made, particularly at the board level, that underscores the importance of gender equity in the corporate world. Still, there are still gaps in management that need to be addressed. A deeper commitment to gender equity is required beyond just token representation, with programs and initiatives that are persistent and substantive to drive meaningful change.

 

What are the components of a great gender equity program?

 

Some of the larger tech companies are at the forefront of championing gender equity, known for their strong programs that prioritize transparency and proactivity. Their approach often has set a standard for others, driven by shareholder engagement that demands not just talk but tangible change.

The essence of these types of gender equity programs lies in a few common components like comprehensive paid family leave, childcare support, and flexible work arrangements to accommodate the varied life circumstances of its workforce. Companies additionally offer trainings, policies, recruitment practices and more that put equality and inclusion at the forefront. Further, flexibility isn’t just a perk; it’s a cornerstone in retaining talent and ensuring that rigid schedules do not hinder the personal and professional lives of employees. It’s this blend of transparency in objectives and the implementation of inclusive policies that characterizes the most successful gender equity programs.

 

What’s the status of gender equity in finance?

 

I love that here at Reynders, McVeigh, we practice what we preach with balanced gender representation, particularly in management. We’re ahead of the industry curve and continuously strive for all types of diversity.

This isn’t necessarily the case across the financial industry. There have certainly been great steps forward, but especially at large firms, challenges with gender bias remain. High-demand roles at entry levels are challenging for anyone seeking balance – for instance, being a rising professional in investment banking calls for long hours and significant personal sacrifice. This can impact women disproportionately. Until that trend and all the other components we mentioned are rectified at certain career stages, equity will be elusive at those types of firms.

 

Do you expect more progress to come?

 

Absolutely. We have seen so much change in the last couple decades. We routinely see in practice and in research from groups like McKinsey and Harvard that diverse teams lead to better financial results, and that’s not lost on businesses leaders across all sectors. Consider that at this point, every company in the S&P 500 has at least one woman on its board, which was not the case a decade ago. Companies are also making new benefits available like longer maternity leaves, mental health packages, and Employee Resource Groups that create real support and a sense of community around these types of issues in the workplace.

 

DISCLOSURE: The commentary provided by an employee of Reynders, McVeigh Capital Management, LLC (“RMCM”) in the Q&A above is subject to change and represents the current, good-faith views of RMCM at the time of publication. The commentary is educational in nature.