#IWD2021: Columbia Threadneedle’s Ann Steele on European equities and gender equality

To mark International Women’s Day some of Columbia Threadneedle Investments’ leading female fund managers discuss the prospects for their asset class as well as their thoughts on the wider backdrop for women in asset management and progress towards gender diversity.

Ann Steele Portfolio Manager, European Equities at Columbia Threadneedle comments:

For European equities, there is light at the end of the tunnel. European companies’ earnings are at the second highest level in 10 years and many are beating on margins rather than revenues. Operating leverage is kicking in and after multiple expansion in 2020, we expect a powerful 35% earnings growth in 2021 as further fiscal measures come through. We believe commodities, autos and financials will help to drive this growth.

Happily, we are optimistic after a tough year which turned workplaces upside down. During the pandemic, boundaries between work and home have blurred and with worries about their families’ health and finances, burnout is a real issue for many working women. Our company made significant investment in building a more flexible and empathetic workplace to nurture a culture in which women have equal opportunity to achieve their potential over the long-term. In Europe, 5.1% of the largest listed companies have a female CEO**. Helena Helmersson, CEO at the Swedish construction and mining machinery leader Epiroc, knows having women in management roles can positively influence social motivations and achievements, which in turn empowers all employees. We join her in celebrating International Women’s Day and believe the choices companies make today will have consequences on gender equality for decades to come.

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