The Diversity Project Europe (DPE) today (14 March) unveiled the "first of its kind" strategic research collaboration with consultancy firm PwC Switzerland to understand the current state of play around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) and do a maturity assessment for the European Asset Management industry.

The research will investigate whether asset management firms are being driven by changes in regulation vs changing their culture to be more inclusive.

All asset managers are encouraged to participate in the survey, which takes 40 minutes to complete. The survey will close on 26 April and the findings will be launched in June 2024.

This ambitious project aims to map the DE&I regulatory landscape across 10 countries in Europe and assess each nation’s progress in fostering diversity and inclusion in Asset Management, with a specific focus on diversity data practices.

Additionally, a sector maturity assessment will be conducted, focusing on the pivotal themes of gender, social mobility and inclusive culture. This initiative will establish a benchmark, serving as a yardstick for all future Diversity Project Europe members.

The forthcoming report won’t just be a snapshot; it will be a call to action, the statement continued.

Packed with actionable recommendations and showcasing successful DE&I initiatives in member countries, it will aim to drive positive change across the European Asset Management industry. A high-level comparison with the situation in Asset Management in the UK, the US and Asia-Pacific will also be included.

Ric van Weelden, acting chair of the Diversity Project Europe’s Advisory Committee, said: “Based on our current understanding, we anticipate discovering a notable gap in gender and other diversity, equity, and inclusion issues compared to other professional service industries. The asset management sector remains unchanged, but the reason for this stagnation is not entirely clear and our goal is to uncover them.

“Our research also aims to determine whether cultural or legislative factors play a more significant role in this context, acknowledging the challenge in distinguishing between the two.

“Ultimately, with this research we seek to make a persuasive argument for an improved DE&I landscape and facilitate a path for companies to achieve it.”

Johannes Smits, partner, Diversity, Inclusive Culture and Equity Practice at PwC Switzerland, said: “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is the cornerstone for a successful people and business management strategy in the asset management industry.

"By fostering an environment where diverse voices are heard and valued, we can tap into a wealth of perspectives that enrich decision-making processes and enhance performance. Institutions can no longer ignore the increased expectations from regulators, investors, clients and employees. We are excited to collaborate with DPE on this report, which we think will show the path forwards.”

Alongside this initiative, the Diversity Project Europe – launched at the end of 2023 to pave the way for a more inclusive asset management industry across Europe – has also unveiled its board.

Sitting under the initiative’s advisory council, the board consists of:
• Camilla Udd, Quoniam Asset Management;
• Charlene Sagoe, Natixis Investment Management;
• Isabelle Brancart, HSBC Asset Management;
• Jerome Broustra, AXA Investment Managers;
• Linda Russheim, Diversity Project UK/HT Financial Marketing;
• Nancy Rowe, Franklin Templeton;
• Zahra Sheikh, Pictet Asset Management;
• Chair, Ric van Weelden, Indefi

The Board are charged with setting the strategy which is approved by the advisory council, overseeing and orchestrating all Workstreams and the Steering Committee. They will also appoint the Steering Committee and the Workstreams based on recommendation of members shortly.

In addition to PwC Switzerland, a number of pro-bono third party agencies will also be supporting the DPE with its efforts to reach a more inclusive asset management industry.

Reputation management consultancy Lansons | Team Farner has been brought in to provide strategic communications support and drive awareness in the media, whilst Core – Raise and Retain will be supporting with the strategic narrative, pitch decks and the website.