The "glass closet" preventing LGBTQ+ members of the asset management industry from progressing in their careers can be broken by a larger number of openly gay role models, as well as management teams "living their values" and encouraging employees to "bring their whole authentic selves to work", according to Arisaig Partners' Rebecca Lewis.
Lewis, who is a managing partner at the emerging market investment management firm, added a push for diversity must be prevalent across companies' portfolios as well as in their respective offices, in order to truly work towards positive change.
As such Arisaig, which has $3.5bn under management across its four Asian, global, LatAm and 'next generation' equity portfolios - adopts a rigorous ESG approach to stock selection, engages in activist dialogue with management teams and tends to invest in companies with a ten- to 20-year time horizon in order to help facilitate permanent changes.
"When it comes to emerging markets, disclosure is poorer, so that affects how we have built our business. We have always had a big research team and have had feet on the ground near to where our exposures are," Lewis explained.
"If a company scores a 50 on our diversity scale but something else scores a 70, it does not necessarily affect the weighting or the investment decision - it just guides the conversation.
"If we go to a management team and say 'you have no women on your board and 75% of consumer decisions within emerging markets are made by women' - it is not me as a woman saying we need more women on the board.
"It is saying it from a business perspective 'you have to pay attention to your target market and who is buying your products'.
"If a company scores badly it is not exclusionary, but we need to know that, when the companies meet with our analysts, they understand that this has to change. Direction of travel really matters to us, as does the intention of taking these things seriously."
One example of a holding in the firm's flagship Asia Consumer fund is Godrej Consumer, an Indian company that produces toiletries and personal care products.
Lewis said the firm's CEO Vivek Gambhir is a "huge advocate" for LGBTQ+ rights in India - a country where it was illegal to be gay until 2018.
"I have interviewed her and she is a really authentic and inspirational character. Not just because she is female - and she is not gay herself - but she has identified the need for a diverse and inclusive organisation, and the ability for employees to bring their whole selves to work," she explained.
"You do not need to be gay, or a woman, or a particular ethnicity to be an ally. The allyship movement across all dimensions of diversity is incredibly powerful.
"It is great to have a role model in a leadership position who is gay or female, but actually, you can be just as inspired by a heterosexual man who is speaking really passionately about change, for example."