Asset managers and financial firms have led a strong increase in the representation of UK firms in the 2019 Bloomberg Gender Equality index (GEI), which have quadrupled in number since last year.

The 2019 Gender Equality index has selected some 230 companies globally that are committed to transparency in gender reporting and advancing women’s equality in the workplace – more than double the size of the previous year’s list.

Firms were asked to voluntarily disclose how they promote gender diversity in their statistics, policies, community engagement and products & services. Those which scored above a global threshold were included in the index.

2018’s key diversity initiatives

In the UK, 2019 sees the addition of five new financial firms to the list, three of which are household names in the asset management sector – Janus Henderson Investors, Schroders and Standard Life Aberdeen – as well as insurance giant Legal & General and bank Lloyds Banking Group.

These new entrants joined Barclays, Prudential, Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Chartered, which were already featured on the list last year.

In total, 24 UK companies have made it onto the 2019 list, which marks a huge four-times increase from the six firms included last year.

As well as the companies listed above, the list included AngloAmerican, AstraZeneca, Avon, BAE Systems, BT Group, Diageo, Just Eat, Pearson, RELX, Rolls Royce, SSE, Unilever, Vodafone, Willis Tower Watson and WPP.

Overall, apart from growing from just 104 companies last year, this year’s index has also expanded to include companies from 36 countries, compared to 24 in 2018.

Asset managers up pressure on UK firms to improve gender diversity

The improvement seen in the UK corporate sector comes amid a range of initiatives undertaken by the government to improve gender equality.

Last year, an agreement was reached between Bloomberg and the UK government to incorporate six data points from the UK’s gender pay gap metrics into the reporting, including the percentage of men and women in each quartile of payroll.

The UK has also been proactive in introducing gender diversity initiatives, particularly in financial services, such as The Diversity Project, The 30% Club and Investment2020 as well as mandatory gender pay gap reporting for firms with 250 employees or more.

Kiersten Barnet, manager of the Bloomberg GEI, said: “As the investment community places greater value on gender equality, the Bloomberg GEI identifies the companies that excel at driving inclusion.

“We are encouraged by the growth of the index within the past year, which demonstrates that across the world, more organisations are prioritising transparency and equality in the workplace.”

The report follows findings by MSCI earlier this month that the UK had zero companies with an all-male board and 71.6%, representing 73 companies, had three or more women on their board.

This is reproduced from Investment Week; all views are from the publication. This originally appeared online on 16 January 2019.