A report compiled by PwC in association with the Diversity Project has revealed that the gender pay gap in the investment management sector has continued to grow, making it the second worst of the 22 sectors reviewed.
Over the first two years of mandatory reporting, the sector recorded an 0.8% increase in the average mean gender pay gap, the second worst result behind the 1% rise reported by the education sector.
Of the five sectors with the highest gender pay gaps - banking, investment management, insurance, real estate and travel - investment management was the only one to see no improvement, reporting a mean gap of 31% (second only to banking at 32%).
Though the key reason for this is the disproportionate number of men in the highest paid roles, the report also highlights the fact investment management has the lowest percentage of high paid women. Just 23.2% of the upper quartile are female, compared to 24.9% in banking and 31.5% in insurance.
Jon Terry, global financial services HR consulting leader at PwC, warned that seeing diversity and inclusion as "peripheral issues or a zero-sum game is a huge missed opportunity" for the sector.
He said: "Just over half (54%) of investment managers reported a year-on-year reduction in their gender pay gap. However, the majority of these firms saw an improvement of less than 5%. The potential for existing staff and potential recruits to be deterred by the slow and even no progress within many parts of the industry is a major stumbling block."
Dame Helena Morrissey, chair of the Diversity Project and head of personal investing at LGIM, noted there has been a "step change in the level of commitment at the top and a new sense of urgency around the issue", but warned of two key problems standing in the way of progress.
"The first is the proverbial 'chicken and egg'; young women are discouraged from even considering a career in fund management when they see our wide gender pay gaps and learn that just 4% of money managed in the UK is run exclusively by women," she said.
"Secondly, we still have a problem convincing many mainstream fund managers that diversity is a business issue, rather than political correctness.
"Let's be clear: diversity is a business imperative. We are throwing down the gauntlet to ensure it's treated like one."
In order to bring about change, she said diversity needs to be treated "just like any other business issue, featured on every strategy day agenda, in every performance review, every hiring, promotion and reward decision, every risk and culture assessment".
"We have to take a much bolder approach if we're going to attract the very best talent, along with making sure that diverse entrants have a great experience when they join us," she added.