A new career-progression programme solely for women begins this week at Danish pension fund ATP, with the DKK934bn (€125bn) statutory fund saying it hopes the scheme yields insights to help it improve gender diversity.

Eight senior-level women working in ATP’s pension and investment (P&I) business segment have been enrolled on the six-month in-house programme, entitled “Accelerate”, according to the Copenhagen-based fund.

Marie-Louise Lomborg, head of HR in P&I, told IPE: “We were looking at our numbers in P&I and we could see the development we wanted – creating more diversity – wasn’t moving forward as quickly as we had hoped.”

Although on the administration side of ATP’s business, there is a higher percentage of women staff than men, in P&I female participation is much lower, with only 10% of portfolio managers being women.

Lomborg said this was slightly higher than the average in the investment industry of 8%, though.

The careers programme will include three seminars, individual coaching sessions and continuous dialogues with ATP’s executive management, she said.

“As an organisation, we need to gain clarity about the problem, and we also want to support the women more than we normally do, making them more aware of the variety of opportunities that are available to them – as well as showing our commitment to them achieving these ambitions,” Lomborg said.

News of the Accelerate programme attracted some criticism in the Danish media with commentators accusing ATP of trying to change women rather than a male-biased system.

But Lomborg said the programme was largely aimed at getting new perspectives by working with diversity more than the pension fund already did.

“They will learn but we will also learn,” she said. “This is really not about fixing the women, but learning what we can do better.”

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