Ocean’s 11: Gender Diversity within the Investment Industry - Clare Scott, MD at The Ocean Partnership

Wed, June 27, 2018

Challenges are opportunities

“Over my last fifteen years of working with the investment industry I have observed some seismic changes in the way organisations attract and recruit talent. In the last five years, I have seen some promising progress regarding gender parity. However, if we consider that the gender pay gap in investment management is still considerably higher than most other industries (and is set to get worse) then there is considerably more work to do.

What is creating and enhancing this paradigm? Within the Investments Industry there are a number of factors that are inhibitive to gender parity. Some of these were highlighted last year in the Mercer and Diversity Project Study which concluded that ‘hiring and promotion is perceived to be exclusive’. In other words, the majority of men are recruiting and promoting more men than they are women. But this isn’t that surprising given that there are considerably more men than women in the sector. This in turn means that the probability of identifying a man is more likely which makes gender balance a real headache for recruitment professionals and hiring managers. However, my view is that this should not be an excuse and does not mean that it is impossible.

Throughout the last twelve months The Ocean Partnership has proved this is possible. 59% of all placements made in the 2017 calendar year were female (with 70% of our Director level and above placements being female). I have personally spent a lot of time reflecting on how we achieved this. Fundamentally, diversity is at the heart of everything we do at Ocean and the results are beginning to show. Our success on this front in 2017 required a specific plan and a commitment to the cause. A large amount of my effort I dedicated to coaching my team to work with our clients to encourage them to be more flexible and open with their recruitment requirements. This involved challenging existing biases, which inhibit inclusive recruitment progress. The vision has been set at the top of Ocean but is now embedded into the everyday operation of our team. Through consistency, progress, focus and feedback we have been able to turn our vision into reality.

I do believe that the gender challenge offers a significant opportunity to make some big progress. But, the investment industry needs to think hard about it”.

Why am I feel passionate about this topic?

“I was born in Kent, raised in a single-parent household by my mother who inspired me to believe everything is possible. I came into London with huge career aspirations and secured work on the trading floor of an investment company. The environment was male dominated, primarily they were from an “Oxbridge” and Eton background. Coming from a working class background, with no degree and a regional accent, to say it was challenging ‘fitting in’ was an understatement!

Despite working exceptionally hard, completing industry qualifications, I soon realised that my progression was limited due to my age and not having a university degree. As a result, I changed careers and went to work for a specialist asset management recruitment company. This was the best move that I could have made. I could achieve greater things within an environment that valued me for being me and where reward and recognition was based on results, not my age and not my lack of degree. But, it was during the start of my career in recruiting where I really came to realise the extent of the biases which played out within the investment industry. Hiring managers mostly favoured men over women and they asked me if female candidates were planning on having a baby! This might seem crazy in the present but this was not that long ago and I still get the same type of questions (albeit less frequently)”.


Here is what I think the investment firms could do better:

Ocean’s 11

  1. Understand your organisation’s gender diversity agenda.
  1. Create visibility and identify the women in your company.
  1. Explore more dynamic, agile and flexible ways of working.
  1. Challenge hiring manager thinking through de-biasing perspectives.
  1. Support and endorse women’s talent initiatives.
  1. Scrutinise your recruitment processes for biases.
  1. Get comfortable with moving from a small talent pool to the broader Ocean.
  1. Coach hiring managers and women throughout the recruitment process.
  1. Work with recruitment partners who care about diversity.
  1. Ask for feedback and work on improving next time.
  1. Repeat steps 1 to 10.


To get involved in the debate complete our investment industry recruitment survey and contribute your thoughts. We will share the results with you!

Thank you for reading.


Clare Scott

Managing Director

The Ocean Partnership


T: +44(0)203 909 8640

Would you like to receive our weekly blog?
Register here