MASTERCLASS: Women in Investing
- 01 hr 04 mins 23 secs
**Please Note: This video is eligible for Continuing Education Credits for CIMA only, not CFP. Thank you for your understanding.Channel: MASTERCLASS
Three women who have risen the ranks in their careers in finance discuss the challenges faced by women in an industry traditionally dominated by men, why DEI is essential, and what can be done to be more inclusive. They share stories of their own experiences, those efforts made by their companies, and how they contribute to make a difference in hopes that others will follow in their footsteps.
Three women who have risen the ranks in their careers in finance discuss the challenges faced by women in an industry traditionally dominated by men, why DEI is essential, and what can be done to be more inclusive. They share stories of their own experiences, those efforts made by their companies, and how they contribute to make a difference in hopes that others will follow in their footsteps.
- Jean Yu, Managing Director, Portfolio Manager - ClearBridge Investments
- Danielle Yoo, Passive Product Specialist - DWS
- Ima Casanova, Deputy Portfolio Manager, Active Gold and Precious Metals Strategy - VanEck
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Jonathan Forsgr...: Hi, you're watching Asset TV. March is Women's History Month, so today's discussion will be centered around the benefits of diversity, equity, and inclusion, especially as it relates to women working in the world of finance and investing. Society has come a long way since the Rosie the Riveter campaign when women played a crucial role in the United States wartime economy and labor force. We've come a long way since then.
According to Pew Research, women's representation in the US labor force increased from 30% in 1950 to 47% in 2018. And in 2017, women outpaced men by 10% when it comes to earning college degrees. But despite the progress that has been made, there are still glaring inequities when it relates to genders in the workplace with some industries reflecting that gap more than others.
One industry that has historically been dominated by men is the world of finance and investing. According to Deloitte, women occupy just 20% of board seats globally and continue to be excluded from the highest levels of corporate leadership. On top of that, just 26% of corporate board seats in the Russell 3000 are held by women, and only 14% of fund managers are female.
Joining us today to share their expertise and experiences as women working in finance are Danielle Yoo, passive product specialist at DWS, Ima Casanova, deputy portfolio manager for active gold and precious metals strategy at VanEck. And it should be noted that Ima has been promoted, so at the time of recording, she is still deputy portfolio manager, but as of May 1st, she will be portfolio manager. And finally, Jean Yu, managing director and portfolio manager at ClearBridge Investments.
Thank you all for joining us today. Ima, let's start with you. Many women feel that society nudges them toward careers in arts and humanities. What drew you to a career in engineering first and then later finance?
Ima Casanova: When it came to engineering, I think from very early age during my education I just always had a passion and I liked math, I liked science. And so, it was a natural decision for me to know that I had to go in that path. My dad was in engineering, I had some cousins and some uncles, family members that had also taken the engineering path, so I thought, "Okay, maybe I can go that route."
I can tell you that I decided to actually study mechanical engineering. And I'll never forget the first class, I think it was chemistry one where I walked into this... Every engineering student has to take this class and there were maybe 150, maybe 200 of us young people walking into the room to take this class. And I'll never forget, I think, that one experience where I looked, and looked, and looked across the room, and couldn't find a girl. At the end, I think it was five or six of us in the mechanical engineering program while I was at the university.
So, it isn't hard to see why some women may not want to pick that path because it is so male-dominated. But I can tell you also that being in that environment at a very early stage was also really important for me in getting comfortable in operating and working in male-dominated environments.
And then on the finance side, it was very much looking for the right opportunities. I ended up working as an engineer... I'm Venezuelan originally, in Venezuela. I actually worked in an oil rig, which talk about male-dominated. I also won't forget being the one out of 80 people, and the only woman among 80 people in an oil rig. So, a lot of that experience as well there.
And I ended up working in petroleum engineering because when I moved back to Venezuela after my college experience here, I decided I wanted to be in the area, in the part, in the industry that provided a lot of opportunities. So, when I decided to then move back to New York, they didn't drill wells in New York, and again, I said, "Well, where should I be to access the best opportunities professionally?" And the answer was finance. So, that's how I ended up pursuing an equity analyst position that led to my current position.
In brief, I would say looking for the right opportunities and not being afraid to access those opportunities just because you're women and there are many women doing those things.
Jonathan Forsgr...: You mentioned your father is an engineer. Did you find support from your family to go this route?
Ima Casanova: Yeah, my family was always very supportive, and I think that's critical for young women in saying you can do anything you want. I think they probably wanted me to be a doctor, or I don't know, a lawyer, or something like that. But I always felt with my strength in science and math, I should pursue engineering.
So, yeah, they were very supportive, and again, seeing those role models was critical, and I think is critical to men and women, to young people to see that those paths can be pursued. But I do believe that having, obviously, the support of your family is key.
Jonathan Forsgr...: Jean, I understand that you also had an indirect path to finance. Can you tell us a little bit about it? What were some of the... Did you face any challenges maybe even from society that might have encouraged you to go another way? And then how did you find your way into ultimately finance?
Jean Yu: I don't think I faced much of a pushback from society perspective, but it has taken me a journey to find finance. I took some detours to get here. I grew up in China, and initially, I embarked on a career in medicine. For 10 years, I was first trained as doctor and then worked in research, in microbiology research to get my PhD.
And then over time I just found that that's really not my true calling, so I took a healthcare consulting job, worked for companies like Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson just to explore business as an option. Some of my friends actually at the time suggested finance. They were like, "Oh, you should look into this." And my answer is, "No, I think finance sounds really, really boring." I didn't know anything about finance at the time and that was too quick an answer, obviously.
It turns out that in business school I really discovered finance as my true passion, so I followed my passion for investment. I leveraged the healthcare training I had and became a healthcare equity analyst. From there, I spent 10 years being the sector analyst and I gained more exposure into other sectors and worked close with portfolio managers. So, about 10 years ago I was promoted from analyst to be a portfolio manager.
I guess right now I'm in a position to manage two funds: the ClearBridge Value Strategy, and the ClearBridge International Value Strategy in terms of both deciding on the strategy positioning and stock selections for the two products. I guess I think I'm your proof that it's never too late to change directions and to find your true passion.
Jonathan Forsgr...: And then Danielle, how did you become a product specialist in passive investments?
Danielle Yoo: Yeah, so I don't think I have a big jump from different industries like Ima and Jean did, but I did have an opportunity to hop around a couple of countries and industries before landing in the passive product specialist role. I started out my career in Vancouver, Canada, in residential mortgages for a few years. Then I moved all the way to Hong Kong for an opportunity to work as an equity specialist in fintech.
I was lucky to be exposed to various roles within the finance industry, and I gained interest in investments and asset management while working in fintech. Then luckily encountered an opportunity to work as a product specialist in active investments at DWS Hong Kong covering liquid real assets and equities.
After a few years in the active investments, I wanted to learn more about passive investments this time, so I voiced out my willingness for the new challenges, and the company was very supportive of cross-functional and cross-regional moves. So, here I am now in New York as the Xtrackers passive product specialist at DWS.
Jonathan Forsgr...: As all of you have noted along the way that you are among a minority in your own fields. There is a underrepresentation of women in finance and other male-dominated industries we'll talk about, but today we're focusing on finance. According to Morningstar, 11% of fund managers are female, a percentage that has remained constant over the past 10 years. Ima, from the start of your career to now, what progress have you seen when it comes to diversity and gender equity, and what further progress would you like to see?
Ima Casanova: I started my career at VanEck, working in the International Investors Gold Fund and that investment team, and also part of the Global and Natural Resources investment team in 2011. When I joined that active team, I was the only woman in the investment team. Today, I'm happy to report that there are five women in the investment team, the active investment team at VanEck, that's out of, call it 20 active investment professionals.
And so, I think that's a great example to highlight the progress that have been made in the last decade, at least at our firm and we're very proud of that. I'll also highlight that when we look at opportunities for women and the progress in recent years, I'm happy to say that I started as a senior analyst and investment team member at VanEck. I was then in 2014 named deputy portfolio manager, and as of May 1st of this year, I'll be the lead portfolio manager for the active gold strategies.
I think that's great for me, obviously, but not only for me but for VanEck, and for women in the firm who can see that trajectory and know that opportunities at the leadership positions at the portfolio manager positions are available. So, I think our own experience and my own experience within VanEck, it's a great example of how things are evolving for the best.
There's always room for improvement. I wish it was half the people in the investment team that we would have that representation. And so, there is always room to keep that improving, but at least the progress today, to me, is very encouraging.
Jonathan Forsgr...: So, according to research done by Deloitte, for every woman added to the C-suite in an organization, three women rise to senior leadership roles. This is known as the multiplier effect, which is why it's so important that we look at these issues and we promote women to executive leadership roles. Jean, can you discuss ways to advance women and narrow the C-suite gender gap?
Jean Yu: I think narrowing the C-suite gender gap really takes a concerted effort from board, senior management, and individual. This is because it's really a complex issue, that's why you really need, I think, progresses from all front to get the wheel going.
In terms of what are the ways? So as Jonathan just told us, having more women in C-suite is one of the best ways to encourage more women leadership through the multiplier effect. This is because women in senior management roles work as role models. And just by looking at them, you get other women to say, "I can do that too." And that's a very powerful, inspirational, and motivating message.
Women in leadership also provide mentorship and support other women. C-suite women especially, they really command a lot of visibility. So, that's why their contribution are less subject to gender bias and are more likely to get fairly recognized and rewarded, and that would help to create a level playing field for women across the organization.
I think most importantly too that senior leadership, female leadership are more likely to advocate for policies and practices that will help advance women. For example, flexible working schedule or childcare support, and the ability for women to maybe take a short-term leave without detrimental career consequences.
So, at the individual level, I think women need to be better advocate for themselves. A mentor of mine who took on a COO role with a very large organization, and she told me that within her first two weeks, every single male subordinate of hers already scheduled a private meeting with her and asked for more responsibilities, and none of her female subordinate did that.
So, she hosted a women lunch to ask why, and the answer really ranged from, "Well, you just came, so we wanted to be considerate of your time, we want you to have time to settle in," to, "Well, we don't want to be imposing." So, this all tell you that women have to learn to lean in as Sheryl Sandberg has argued so eloquently.
But that being said, I am very encouraged by the increase in the number of women with corner offices in recent years, and in particular, some of these women CEOs have been chosen, have been hired to tackle the most challenging problems in corporate America. Not in just very narrow industries, but in some of the male-dominated industries like auto and they have done tremendous job.
For example, UPS CEO Carol Tomé. She's able to improve the pricing structure for the entire shipping industry. CVS CEO Karen Lynch figured out the growth strategy for the retail pharmacies. GM CEO Mary Barra, she rose to the task of EV transition. And also, Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser has to tackle massive issues that have caused perennial underperformances.
So, I think these are extraordinary examples. These women are chosen to turn around very tough situations, and you are seeing successes. In fact, nothing speaks like successes does. So, I'm sure, I think all these extraordinary case examples really speaks for women's leadership potential, and I think the boardrooms are taking notice. Guess what? Boards themselves are getting more diverse these days.
Jonathan Forsgr...: Well, thank you, and like you said, nothing advances a cause like success, and thank you. I'm going to bring back to the three of you, successful women in your individual careers. Thank you very much for joining us and being an example of that success and advancing women in finance.
Coming to you, Danielle, we were just talking about women who have advanced in their careers as an example, and that help people who are more junior. So, have you benefited from any mentorship or DEI programs during your career? And now that you're further along, are you part of any?
Danielle Yoo: Yeah, definitely. So, throughout my journey as a product specialist, I have been supported by a female mentor, who was, in fact, my manager back in Hong Kong. She's in a leadership role based there, who helped me not only grow professionally in the asset management industry but also supported me personally with my transition from a majority to a minority.
By that I mean as an Asian woman living in Hong Kong, it was an environment where I was able to identify myself as part of a bigger circle where many people were in the same ethnicity as myself, and therefore were less diverse, and the environment was composed of few of those bigger circles out there. Then when I moved to the US, there was an obvious difference where there were more diverse backgrounds and genders that I became a smaller, more like a dot than a circle because the environment here was composed of many small dots.
This kind of transition was not the easiest at first because I had to adapt to different ways of working and cooperating with different people, and also find ways to be recognized since my presence here was relatively minimal, and my mentor in Hong Kong was a great network and door opener for me to connect and gain presence in a new city with new networks, helping me with a smooth transition.
Additionally, I also became part of the Asian inclusion network at DWS to support the Asian American community in the firm, which is another step for me to personally expand my little dot to a bigger circle.
Jonathan Forsgr...: Jean, I understand that you're also involved in mentorship programs. Can you give us a little more detail on your involvement in those?
Jean Yu: So, I have been very fortunate in my career, that's why I try to give back as much as possible by being a mentor to junior professionals, especially female staff in our investment department. I have been actively involved in the interviewing process for both our summer interns and full-time positions, as well as the onboarding process of our newly hired analysts. And usually, just try to make sure that they're encouraged to make time to regularly check in on them, as well as develop a relationship both professionally and personally with them.
As an example, we recently hired two female analysts, and I've been working closely with them to get them up to speed. One of them just had a baby, and that's experience that's very similar to mine because I had my first child as an analyst. So, we just proactively reached out to let her know that ClearBridge is very supportive of the life-work balance, and have a lot of things in place to help her.
We were very helpful and convinced her, let her know that ClearBridge really prides ourselves for recognizing that being an analyst and being a mom are two of the most challenging jobs. And that we want to tell her that there's no need to sacrifice one for another. We want her to be both successful professionally, and in her home life because even though it's a very challenging balancing act for both her and the company, but it actually ultimately works out for both, for all parties involved.
And then in another example, I'm the assigned mentor for one of our MBA candidates that, similar to my career path, she's finishing her business school and is doing a career switch. So, that's why she doesn't have as much finance background, but we think she's the right person for the job. That's why I've been working very closely with her to make sure that she's more comfortable with the investment process and with her coverage area. We think this way we can help her to become a long-term asset for our investment team, and maybe one day another female portfolio manager herself.
So, just overall, being a mentor can be difficult at times, but it's also incredibly rewarding. I hope that I have an opportunity to see the people I mentor today to be mentors themselves as well in the future.
Jonathan Forsgr...: I'm going to stay with you, Jean, because you mentioned yourself that you experienced something very similar to the analyst you're mentoring in that you were pregnant at the time that you were an analyst yourself. So, could you give us a little detail of what was going through your head? It must be very similar to what your analyst is experiencing now.
What were your thoughts? What were the challenges that you might face that we should really be considering now trying to accommodate, and as you mentioned earlier, be flexible in order to empower women in their professional careers?
Jean Yu: Yes, absolutely. So, I was at the beginning of my investment career. It was a job that's very hard to find, and so, I was extremely ambitious and excited, and then there I was pregnant. And then I had baby, so I didn't have nearly as much time, and I want to be a good mother too.
So, for several years, it was really a struggle, but the company was extremely helpful. They told me that, "Don't worry about it. We hire you, not for the next year or even two. We're here, we want you to be with us and contribute for the next 10-15 years." Which is the case, and I've been with the company for 20 years. More than 20 years actually.
So, I do want to mention one experience, which I think is not unusual, and it explains why sometimes we lose talented women along their career progression when they have a lot of family duties. When my daughter was two years old, somehow she went to preschool, she had separation anxiety, and then I found out that she had not spoken for three to four months at school.
They call it selective mutism, so I was very worried as you know. I don't know whether she had other issues and just want to find the counseling for her. And then at the same time, the stock market will not wait for you. So, things would just change and roll, and I was trying to catch up with my job, and I felt intense responsibility for that as well.
So, at some point, I'm like, "I can't do this." Actually, I resigned. I said, "That's it, I can't handle it anymore." But the company said, "We will not accept your resignation." And then I said, "Fine." I said, "Can you move me to client service? It will maybe be less demanding, less intense a job." And they're like, "No, we think you're good in investing. We want you to be investor. We're not moving you, we can work with you for this period."
So, that was extremely helpful, and it got me over this hump. I think, for a lot of women, they don't need this kind of support all the time, but there will be some moments, and if you just get them over, and they could have a long-lasting great career in many, many years.
Jonathan Forsgr...: Well, thank you very much for sharing that personal story with us, that was touching. Childcare has historically fallen, and still predominantly falls to women. An article from the New York Times reports that 66% of mothers with partners say that they are chiefly responsible for childcare compared to 24% of fathers.
A recent global survey by Catalyst compared employees who have flexible work options and found that for women with childcare responsibilities, those who were offered flexible work options were 32% less likely to leave their current jobs. Ima, I know that you have an interesting story about your pregnancy and your hiring at VanEck. Do you mind sharing?
Ima Casanova: Yeah, it's not dissimilar from... I was so much identifying with everything Jean was saying because I think... So, my experience, to talk about that, the offer to join VanEck, the interviewing, and the offer came at the same time as I was planning my wedding and about to get married.
So, of course, because you can't plan these things, I was offered the job to start at VanEck in 2011, and I started, my first day at VanEck was the day right after I had landed from my honeymoon. So, a lot of things are happening all at once. Of course, I start my... Just like Jean described, my big job that I've been preparing for. So excited, this is a new path. I had already been in the sell side for 10 years, I was now moving to the buy side to start my career in that area, and what do you know? I get pregnant during the honeymoon.
So, here I am, just all fired up, ready to go. And now that I look back on the experience, the thing that I think I want to highlight more is how I took it. Of course, it wasn't necessarily planned, so that was part of it, but a lot of it was the stress of having to communicate to my new boss, to my employer, to my CEO that I was pregnant.
I saw this my whole life as you get pregnant, that this is not good. Nobody likes a woman that is pregnant, and you just started your job. What kind of message are you going to send to these people? Are you not taking this responsibility serious? And all of this, this inundated me to the point that I'm not joking when I said, as I was telling my news to my direct supervisor, I started crying.
I started crying, and just basically apologizing, in a few words, for getting pregnant. And luckily, probably similar to Jean's experience, they were like, "Yeah, we expected you to probably get pregnant at some point."
But the point I want to stress here is how much more as women we put ourselves through. Just like Jean thought she had to probably quit her job so that she could focus on her daughter. Those are things that as child... Providing most of the childcare and just being mothers, are things that we have to deal with as women.
I always look back on that experience and think, I wish I could tell every woman getting pregnant is something you should embrace and you should be proud of. And hopefully, you have organizations that support that. It was very, very nice to hear Jean explain how, now that we're building those supports for other women, for younger women so that they can learn from what we went through.
And obviously, to see organizations including VanEck make so much progress when it comes to making it easier to achieve that home and work balance. And I agree with Jean that you can be ambitious on both fronts. I tell everybody when I became a mother. As ambitious and as driven, as career-driven as I was, when I became a mother, that became my number one most important role.
And guess what? You can do both. After all the stress that I went through breaking the news, you know what happened? I worked until 2:00 PM. My daughter was born at 6:00, my first daughter was born at 6:00 PM. I worked until 2:00 PM that day. I walked myself, got to the apartment, and then called the hospital and checked myself in there with my husband. I had a baby four hours later, and 12 weeks later I was back in the office, not to mention connected during those 12 weeks.
So, we can make it happen, and it seems a lot and it seems like you might have to trim it or step it or cut your ambitions short. But the truth is it can be done if you have support from your family, from your job, and if you learn to manage both without having to feel like you have to be deficient or one or the other.
I'm glad Jean brought it up because I think it's a very... As women, more experienced women like Jean and I, we can tell you. We've been through it, and it can be done, and don't be afraid to take the next step and the next challenge. So, yeah, that was my experience. I did manage to have a second baby and still progressed through my career, so Jean and I are both living testaments that it can be done.
Jonathan Forsgr...: Well, Ima and Jean, thank you very much for sharing those personal stories, and a lot of that pressure that you might have felt might not be taught directly to us, but it comes from society and culture. So, I think you sharing your stories counters that and rewrites the narrative.
I've got to, of course, commend VanEck and ClearBridge for their advanced thinking. It shouldn't be advanced, but this is something that we are trying to make more equitable, and this shouldn't fall upon women as a burden between profession and personal life. So, it's very commendable that both your organizations took a proactive stance and accommodative stance to pregnancy, which is a very important part of life whether you're man or female. Congratulations on your families, and thank you, again, for sharing those.
Continuing in the vein of empowering women, empowering women is essential to DEI. Companies can also have a significant impact through their investment activities, not just within the organization, and there's programs they have within, but also, how they invest externally through those funds. Moving to you, Danielle, would you tell us how DWS advances women through its investments?
Danielle Yoo: So, at DWS, we firmly believe in the power of DEI, and we have been working our way to achieve our ambitions in increasing the proportion of women and really empowering them. And on the investment side, we support innovative investment ideas exclusively from women at DWS, and there's actually a team of only female portfolio managers who manage investment ideas by using social and diversity aspects as their binding ESG selection criteria during their investment decisions. Because they truly believe that women in leadership roles can bring positive impact to the companies.
As a result of this, this tends to bring a positive impact in the overall industry by seeking to engage with companies to improve their diversity commitments.
Jonathan Forsgr...: Ima, as a deputy portfolio manager as it stands today when we're recording, but soon-to-be portfolio manager, how does diversity factor into your investment process? Do you look at board members of companies that you invest in for that diversity?
Ima Casanova: Yeah, most definitely. Especially for me and especially for me in this new role as lead PM, lead portfolio manager, we do. We engage with the companies at different levels, at the management level, at the sustainability level, at the board level to express our views when it comes to ESG. But specifically, for this conversation, when it comes to gender diversity, there are some metrics that most companies provide, so it's a very easy first step to look at board composition.
I can tell you from covering an industry, from investing in an industry like the gold mining industry that when I started covering [inaudible 00:37:12] 20 years ago, it was very rare to find... You would go through the list in the website or in the reports, and you rarely found a woman sitting in the boards of those companies.
Today, I'm very happy to say that increasingly, and I tell people this all the time. Every time there is a director change, I get very excited because I know that it's going to be a woman get appointed. And so, great progress is being made when we look at board composition now of many of the gold mining companies we invest in.
Two, three women, 20-30% of the seats are occupied by women. Again, I don't think the work is finished yet, but it's certainly very encouraging to the progress so far, and we do engage with the companies to make sure they know as shareholders we have the responsibility. And as very large shareholders for a lot of these gold mining companies here at VanEck, our voices are heard, and we can through engagement and also through proxy voting express how we feel and express our support or not for aspects that involve diversity at the board level.
There is obviously diversity also at the management and executive level. We would love to see a lot more improvement in that area still in our industry. And interestingly, for the companies that I invest in, the workforce being gold mining, there aren't a lot of women working as employees for these companies. So, we track those metrics too, and we're very excited to see also a lot of focus now from these companies in attracting women.
We have a company, one of the largest gold mining companies in the world, now having childcare at the mine site or close to the mine site. So that women, which by the way, have a record of being the best truck operators, and really a lot better than many of the men in some very detailed and task-specific jobs. So, there's nothing that prevents them from doing these jobs other than they have children a lot of times that they have to care for.
So, we're seeing initiatives like that where the moms can drop off their children, covered by the companies, and then go work at these mines to improve access to these jobs to women. And so, these sort of initiatives from the employee level, to the management level, to the board are the things that we need to continue to see, and I am happy to say that we are seeing progress.
There is room for more, and I'm also happy to say that, as shareholders, we will continue to watch those metrics and to express our views to make sure that those companies know that it matters to us.
Jonathan Forsgr...: Jean, do you have some examples of programs at ClearBridge that advance women and DEI?
Jean Yu: Oh, absolutely. So, ClearBridge has had a fantastic track record we believe. We've been a long-term proponent and a leader in the industry in diversity, and we recognized very early on that having more women representation is a big advantage in investment and in portfolio management.
Women comprise 20% of our investment management team, which is almost double the industry average, and which is also way higher than 8%, which we had back in 2011. We also believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential components of our success. And because we really appreciate the wealth of perspectives and ideas, which are shaped by each member's very unique and different background and experiences.
So, just to give you a few specific examples of our programs we have done on the DEI front, ClearBridge proactively engages in diversity and inclusion and unconscious bias training. We also have created a employee resource group specifically for our women employees.
We also established a DEI council. That was back in 2020, and that was sponsored by our CEO and is led by the head of our corporate initiatives. This council really hosts events and educational opportunities on DEI-related issues throughout the year.
Also, ClearBridge sponsors a number of women leadership conferences both monetarily as well as through participation. One of the conference that personally I'm most excited about going is this Cornell Women in Investment Annual Conference. It's basically a women-focused college-level stock pitch competition. There we get to meet our next generation of female stock pickers and hire from.
And finally, I wanted to say in addition to ClearBridge's own resources, we have access to the resources of our parent company, Franklin Templeton, which is obviously way bigger. They have this women business resource group, and its mission is to elevate visibility of gender diversity issues, and also create network opportunities for women across all its subsidiaries and departments.
I think these are all great things, and I think financial industry suffers from what I call a leaky pipeline problem. Which is when the pressure of having a great family clashes with your career advance demand, a lot of women get lost along the way. And that really reduces the number of women able to take on higher-level leadership roles.
Fortunately, at ClearBridge, we have things in place. And so, that's why we have been having an extraordinarily stable pipeline to serve up to become portfolio managers. We tracked the metrics, so in the past three years, two-thirds of our summer interns class are women. And then 40% of new hired analysts are women, and more than one-third of our total analyst team right now are females. That's why I'm confident that ClearBridge will have even more women representative as portfolio managers in the next few years.
Jonathan Forsgr...: Yeah, we've got some work to do on that 11%. I'm not saying ClearBridge has a lot, but from that earlier stat, 11% has been the same for the last decade of females represented in total fund managers globally. So, it's great to see ClearBridge is doing their part in addressing this issue.
I know that I've let Danielle and Jean address or share some examples what their organizations have or programs that they have that are advancing women. Ima, you mentioned that one of the companies that you invest in has that childcare program for minors, but would you like to share any examples where internally, programs that you have that advance women and empower women?
Ima Casanova: Yeah, within VanEck, in the last... About two years ago, we started our first DEI committee. It's a group that meets periodically to basically embrace and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the organization. I happen to be a member of that committee, which was wonderful. We had to apply and you had to be selected.
So, I represent basically the investment team within that group. I represent women, I represent Latinas. So, I'm very happy to be in that group, and that same passion that I bring is shared by all of the members of our committee. And I have to say it's been a great experience. At first, when we formed the group, it's a first step, and it felt like that, and I felt very overwhelmed by what's ahead of us, and a little bit scared what was ahead of us like, "Is this really going to happen? Are really people going to pay attention? Are we really going to get some momentum?"
And what I've seen has been so inspiring in that every member of the group takes it so seriously. And we all, when we gather, are ready to really take action and put in place initiatives, which involved bias training, involved bringing speakers to talk about issues that are important for diversity as we have speaker series.
We also bring employees that want to express their views of how they could have an impact, and for example, we had one of our young ladies in sales come up and say let's start a women group. We're also very close to launching a mentoring program as part of this initiative.
So, they are very small, but I think significant steps, and what I really have enjoyed and loved is just how much you can do. I think the committee is only about eight of us, and yet, we have had, I think a lot of reach. The employees are paying attention, and you sense a change in just how the topic is approached and received.
It just goes to show that a) you have to get started somewhere, and 2) that if the passion is there, these programs can actually be very impactful. So, I'm very excited for this initiative, and it is led by the head of HR with the support, and really it was our CEO that encouraged the creation. This is part of what we're doing that I hope we continue to do at VanEck to promote DEI.
Jonathan Forsgr...: Ima, staying with you, what advice would you give to young women who want to pursue a career in a typically male-dominated field? And you've started your career in one of them and then transitioned to another, so you have a diverse perspective in that itself.
Ima Casanova: Yeah, I think my biggest [inaudible 00:49:02], and this probably goes to men or women, but in women in particular in this case is take risks. You've got to take risks to get those rewards, and for us that are in investment, we understand that concept very well. But it applies to everything in life, don't be afraid. Just because another woman hasn't done it or just because nobody in your family has done it doesn't mean that it can't be done. So, the biggest advice is take risks.
My second advice, more broadly, is embrace being a woman. Don't be like me. In the early age of my career, I figured if I wanted to work with men I had to assimilate and act like a man, and I remember dressing like a man. I wore slacks and buttoned-down shirts. It took me a while until I finally said, "I want to wear dresses, I'm a woman."
Embrace the fact that you're women. What it brings to the table is an angle, a diversity that is beneficial for your business. So, don't be afraid of being a woman and having those characteristics that define you as a woman. Don't suppress those just because you're in a male-dominated environment. Diversity, and not just being a woman, being whoever you are. The little dot within the big space like Danielle described. Being Asian, being Latino, being part of a group that is a minority, embrace that because it is that diversity that is going to really be an advantage to you, in many cases, and to your organization.
And my last advice is more practical. Don't go to the gym just... If you're going to the gym to socialize, that'll be great, but if you're busy like Jean, Danielle, and I, get yourself machines at home so that you don't waste all this time. Get you your equipment to exercise at home, and you don't waste time showering and busy lockers, commuting, getting half-showered before you have to go to the office. Work out at home. That's my third practical advice unless you're doing it for social and mental health reasons, and you need the interaction. I'll close it with that.
Jonathan Forsgr...: Well, Ima, I'm not going to let you go quite yet because you did touch on something that I think is very interesting. So, today, we're focusing on diversity focused on women, but the three of you each have backgrounds from outside the United States. Do you think that that in itself, coming to a new country presented a challenge in itself that maybe started, fortified a mentality in each of you that might have helped with later, that being a woman in a minority space, in a male-dominated space? How much do you think being from a foreign country helps with this challenge faced in underrepresentation of females in the workforce in those industries?
Ima Casanova: Yeah, I think when you combine being a woman and the pressures and the challenges that that presents in really any industry. In any industry where as a woman you want to excel and grow, and you add the layer of also being a minority culturally, from many angles, it becomes an additional challenge. Which is why I made the point that you just have to embrace all of what makes you a minority and actually use it as your main strength.
For me, it wasn't even something I thought about. It should have maybe been something that I thought about, but I think my approach was I'm not going to waste time worrying about being the only Latina in a room or being the only woman in a room. I'm just going to stay focused and do what I need to do regardless of how I'm viewed or who might have a different stereotype or perception of me.
Just remain focused. Know your value and the value that you bring, and don't let... To me, those are distractions, and so, don't let them become things that get in your way. In fact, use them to give you more fuel to keep going ahead. If somebody ever gets in the way of your progress because of the color of your skin or your nationality or the fact that you're a woman, laugh it off, and use it as fuel to keep you on your mission.
Danielle Yoo: And just to add on top of Ima's comment, I think I really agree with her on really focusing and just keep going forward in the mindset. Especially because, as I mentioned before where I moved from a bigger part of the circle to a smaller dot, now that I think I bring my own values by being the smaller dot, and that itself becomes my own brand. And I think by living in the United States, that brand is now built even stronger as a female minority here. And I think Ima makes a great point there as well.
Jonathan Forsgr...: Jean, would you like to add anything?
Jean Yu: I think, to me, it is relevant. I think as a foreigner coming to the United States, I faced a lot of challenges. The transition was hard, so I had to work very hard, and initially, there was a lot of self-doubt like, "Can I do this? How long can I do it?" What taught me is, yes, it can be done. Time, accumulated effort really count. So, over time, you actually achieve a lot.
I think that really helps me in terms of being the woman here because I do think there are some differences in terms of how women tend to approach things versus men and use my earlier example I told you guys about. Men, they are very confident. So, women, we have a higher bar a lot of the times and we are very considerate. We consider from the team perspective, and sometimes that's all great, it brings unique perspective, but sometimes that slows down your career progression.
So, when that's the case and when you're doubting yourself, I think the earlier experience of overcoming that cultural transition really comes to mind saying, "It will pass. It will change. Over time, I will get to where I want to be."
Jonathan Forsgr...: Well, thank you. So, coming back to Danielle, how can women help to retain, develop, and grow the number of women in leadership roles?
Danielle Yoo: I think there are many ways to help women, but first, I really believe in the strength of mentorship as I mentioned earlier. I've personally benefited from a strong mentor who faced similar challenges as I did as a minority, and she became a great role model for someone who can guide me through those challenges and navigate my career path.
I believe networking is also another key element to retain, develop, and grow the number of women in leadership roles. Throughout my career in various countries and industries, I've met so many powerful women in leadership who can offer support and opportunities for growth and development, and expanding these kinds of network can certainly open new doors where you wouldn't know what kind of new opportunities are waiting out there.
Lastly, I think women should really advocate for each other. Some people may say that we tend to compete against each other, but I think it's a form of healthy competition coming from just general ambition to succeed in our own roles. And we should hear out other women's ideas around us, celebrate other women's accomplishments, and really encourage each other to go the extra mile. By championing other women, we can promote diversity and gender equity together regardless of industry or region.
Jonathan Forsgr...: And for the last question, this is open, so I'd like to hear from each of you. What is something that you know now that you wish you'd known when you first started your career?
Danielle Yoo: I guess, for myself, I did put some time to think about this because now I feel like I know everything, but what did I not know back 10 years ago? But I think the key thing for myself personally was to not put any limits to yourself. I studied marketing in college, and I thought I'd be working at an advertisement agency or be doing some sort of a market research, but I ended up in a completely different industry in various cities that I've never imagined I would be living in.
I was lucky to discover those opportunities in the early stages of my career, but it did take me a few years to get out of my comfort zone and really explore around not just in terms of career, but physically around the world as well. So, I think it's important to take that leap of faith and try something that you don't feel comfortable with. And if it doesn't work out, there's always ways to make things right by asking for support around you.
Ima Casanova: What I would say it's generally I wish when I was younger and as I worked through my career, I wish I would have known that although we as women set the bar really high like Jean mentioned. Before we make a point, we triple-check our data and make sure that it is perfectly packaged and that there is no if and buts, but everything is...
And while that is obviously a huge asset for us as women, I wish I would have learned earlier to be more assertive and confident when presenting ideas. It doesn't have to be 100% done and proved and recognized scientific reality and thesis for you to promote it as your idea and be assertive about it. And I think Jean alluded a lot to that, the fact that when men present ideas, they do it with that confidence, that certainty.
And so, as a more experienced woman now, I wish I would have exercised that same confident and assertion earlier in my life. And with that, I would say that I'm still very proud and happy of my approach, and of... I think two women here agree with being so thorough and being so... Dotting all the i's and crosses all the t's before coming out there. But I also think that can be balanced with makes sure our voices are heard.
Jean Yu: It's interesting because what I have in mind is very similar to what Danielle and Ima have, and I guess it's just a shared learning for all three of us and for a lot of other women as well. So, I think looking back, in my experience as a junior analyst, I wish I had more confidence and courage in advocating for myself.
For a whole decade, I was this sector analyst in healthcare, and despite that, my underlying desire has always been to become a portfolio manager. I've just considered that as largely unattainable goal until one day a colleague of mine, and she took an initiative to go to management and pitched a new product idea.
So, she was successful. She launched her own global technology fund, and she also came to me, encouraged me. She said, "You should start a global healthcare fund. Why not?" And she shared what she did. And I took her advice and I did that, and that was really the starting point of how I transitioned from being analyst to being a portfolio manager.
So, in retrospect, if I had possessed more confidence and determination, I felt like I would have diversified my skill set and accelerated my advancement in the field beyond just healthcare earlier on. That's why I feel like setting a clear and ambitious goal would have given me greater clarity in terms of how to advocate for myself, and also just frankly learn more about the market, the economy, which would have strengthened my qualifications.
So, ultimately, I hope the greater presence of women in leadership can really help future women to be more vocal about their ambitions, about their aspirations, and could better advocate for themselves to advance their career. That's all what I have, very similar.
Jonathan Forsgr...: Well, as you said, sometimes it just takes seeing someone else do it first to build that confidence to help you realize that it is possible. So, I want to thank the three of you so much for sharing your stories because you're showing others that it is possible, and you've trailblazed in your industry and in finance and in others as well, in medicine and engineering, in the case of Jean and Ima, prior to finance.
I want to thank also your organizations for putting this as a priority, empowering women as a priority. So, thank you to DWS, ClearBridge, and VanEck. And thank you for sharing personal stories. That is rare here, but I think, really, I was moved, and I think our viewers will be too. And to our viewers, thanks for watching. For Asset TV, I'm Jonathan Forsgren. We'll see you next time.