In an ideal world, an asset management firm would take steps to increase the levels of diversity among its employees simply because it is the right thing to do: talented people, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, and social class should be given the opportunity to compete on equal terms for roles they are qualified for.
And while it would be unfair to define financial markets as an industry where an investment portfolio is, at times, more diversified than the team or firm managing it, the Diversity in Asset Management report produced by Incisive Works, the commercial content arm of Investment Week's owners Incisive Media, lays bare some unflattering figures for the industry as a whole.
Drawing on interviews with more than 230 financial intermediaries and leading asset managers from across the industry, the report provides an interesting statistical analysis of the current make-up of the asset management sector.
The figures are stark and won't surprise many. After all, the fact that asset management as an industry - indeed financial services as a whole - is lagging behind other industries on diversity and inclusion is not news. There are plenty of reports which highlight just how poor the record is.
Yet the report also highlights just why this need not necessarily be the case.
Importantly, Incisive Works' Diversity in Asset Management report analyses why - and how - the industry can build a business case for diversity in order to allow groups to take advantage of the strategic opportunities offered in terms of employee commitment and business profits over the longer term.
And in identifying the industry's poor record on diversity and inclusion, the report offers a number of key steps that asset managers can take in order to improve diversity and create real, long-term value for businesses and employees as a whole.
From getting senior managers on board with the diversity agenda so they can assist in driving forward change, to shaking up recruitment processes to foster a culture where the industry is open to everyone, and using diversity to underpin the delivery of other businesses objectives such as profitability and productivity, many of the steps identified in this report are practical, do not require a huge amount of investment, and are - on paper - easy to implement.
Reluctance to change
But why are more firms not embracing these options for change?
Perhaps it is simply down to the disjointed narrative on the issue of diversity within the industry.
Incisive Works' report shows a range of differing attitudes towards the subject of diversity based on respondents gender, age and geography among other factors, and it makes for an interesting read on how different employees perceive the issue.
For example, while more than half of female financial intermediaries (51%) interviewed agree the asset management has an image problem because of a lack of diversity and believe this could potentially be off-putting to clients; views from male respondents' differed.
Meanwhile, while the rationale for promoting greater diversity in the industry is made clear in the report - and some 60% of respondents view the improvement of workplace diversity within their firm as either 'important' or 'very important' - it falls behind a number of other business growth objectives such as attracting new clients and implementing cumbersome regulatory initiatives which, for over three-quarter of respondents, remains the overwhelming focus.