International Women’s Day on 8 March is an opportunity for companies to reflect on what they are doing to advance the opportunities for and rights of women within their spheres of influence.
At BNP Paribas Asset Management, we believe we can have an impact at three levels:
- Through our investment solutions and stewardship activity
- Internally, through what we do related to our employees
- Externally, through that we do in the community.
Equality and inclusive growth
At a solutions level, we act as responsible investors and good stewards of clients’ assets and trust. In line with our Global Sustainability Strategy, and becoming our forward-looking perspective, equality and inclusive growth is one of our focus areas.
In keeping with that stance, we have proposed an investment strategy around the diversity & inclusion theme, seeking to promote inclusive workplaces, ensuring good jobs with decent wages, diversity and gender balance, progress towards pay equity and training & reskilling, and up-skilling to enable employees to adapt to the future of work.
In this approach, we regard companies as investable that strengthen inclusion across their stakeholder base by expanding access and affordability of basic products and services, making safe and reliable products, supporting community development for vulnerable groups and companies that advance human rights in direct operations and supply chains.
Board diversity and gender parity
In terms of how use our voice as a shareholder, we expect to see 30% board diversity across Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand, and at least one female board member in all countries around the world. In 2020, this led us to oppose 36% of board elections at shareholder meetings.
- Gender parity has a fundamental bearing on whether economies and societies thrive
- Women make up one half of the world’s talent; it makes no economic or business sense not to make the most of that
- Proxy voting seeking greater gender parity on company boards is a tool for positive change.
Walking the talk
As a company, our goal is to promote more women into key positions.
We do this a number of ways:
- Growing our pipeline of emerging talent and ensuring it is gender-balanced
- Including one woman in all final round job interviews
- Appointing women to our fund and operating company boards; this provides them with more experience and exposure and allows our boards to benefit from the enhanced diversity
- Tailored leadership training and development programmes for women.
So far, this is what we have achieved:
- 28% of women are in senior management positions, up from 15% in 2017
- We exceeded our ambition of 30% of women in BNPP AM boards: we have reached 40% in February 2021, which is almost double the 21% in 2018
- Women hold 19% in our fund manager positions versus 11% in the asset management industry.
Credit where credit is due
We believe it is important to ensure women get the recognition they need to advance in their careers.
- Our CEO and Deputy CEO have signed the Jamais Sans Elles This means they will not participate in public events that don’t include at least one woman on the panel
- For International Women’s Day, we are extending this commitment to the entire executive committee at BNP Paribas Asset Management
- This makes sure women’s voices are heard and it raises the profile of talented women who are often overlooked.
However, it’s not enough and we know that. That’s why we have planned a number of new initiatives for 2021 that I look forward to updating you on in the near future.
- Focusing on the ‘S’ in ESG – How disclosure and action can aid diversity
- Addressing bias in artificial intelligence
 This year’s campaign theme is #ChooseToChallenge and calls on people to challenge gender bias and inequality, celebrate women’s achievements and help create an inclusive world.
 Read it here 1FC9FC6C-0DA8-468E-90B3-016DDB5CD270 (bnpparibas-am.com)
 Founded by male and female business leaders and key figures from the digital world, the #JamaisSansElles association promotes gender diversity across all sectors of society.