We caught up with four infrastructure investment professionals on the sidelines of our Women in Infrastructure summit in London to learn how the industry is responding to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Allianz GI’s Deborah Zurkow, Jane Seto of DWS, Tani Burge of Alinda Capital Partners and AMP Capital’s Emma Haight-Cheng offered their views.
Deborah Zurkow, Global Head of Alternatives, Allianz Global Investors
I think that it’s increasingly an issue. I mean, the great thing over the last couple of years is there is a significant body of information demonstrating, and data demonstrating, the outperformance of companies where there is diversity in senior management and on the boards. I was at a senior fund management dinner last night where that was very much the subject and there are fund managers – so not just in private equity – who are now refusing to invest in firms that lack that diversity because the worst decisions made, in my opinion, in history and in credit, come from groupthink and the only way to get away from that is to have a diversity of experience. And that creates the diversity of thought.
Jane Seto, Managing Director, DWS
I was just at another conference as well two weeks ago. And there were managers who say that diversity is on their checklist and that sometimes they’re turning away managers that are not very diverse. From investment themes, to gender, to across the board in terms of practices. Because they think diversity adds to different strategies, different methods of thinking and just improved performance as well.
Tani Burge, Director and Head of Investor Relations, Alinda Capital Partners
As an infrastructure private equity fund, we do get asked about our diversity statistics regularly now. So, it’s something that we have to report on and I think it’s something that they all care a lot more about. It’s more us as an infrastructure fund, but I think it will soon extend to our portfolio companies.
Emma Haight-Cheng, Partner, Infrastructure Debt, AMP Capital
I think it’s increasingly becoming one of the criteria used by potential investors and funds to differentiate themselves, sorry, to differentiate the fund from other funds. So, you have your investment returns, the fundamental inherent risk in the portfolio; hurdle rates, fees, etc… And now more and more you have diversity as something, which means that certain funds stand apart. And people are alive now to the positive correlation between investment outcomes and diversity. And so, it is becoming increasingly a focus of concern.