Spotlight on AIM Alumni

Barron's Names Donna Anderson Among Top 100 Women in U.S. Finance Featured

Mar 30 2020

Donna Anderson

Barron's named AIM alumnus Donna Anderson, Head of Corporate Governance, T. Rowe Price, as one of the 100 Most Influential Women in U.S. Finance.

The 100 women on the list were chosen based on their accomplishments and leadership within their organization, influence within their sector, and the capacity to shape their business or the industry in the future. Donna explains that in her role, “We have over a trillion dollars in assets under management, and we are often a top five shareholder. Through our voting and our dialog we can influence corporate behaviour.” Barron’s decision to recognize and honor influential women in finance comes at a time when business institutions themselves have begun to realize that their long-term competitiveness, and the health of the capital markets, require remediating the industry’s gender gap.

Polly was inclusive, supportive and she let me design my own role. - Donna Anderson

Donna joined AIM in 1998. “Polly Ahrendts had the greatest impact on my career at that stage,” said Donna. “She was director of research and I reported to her for half of my time at the firm. She was inclusive, supportive and she let me design my own role. I designed my corporate governance role for proxy voting, running the proxy committee for the AIM/INVESCO funds group.”

"I am honored to have played a small role in jump starting Donna’s career, and I am so proud of her accomplishments," shared Polly. "When Gary Crum told me about Donna, I interviewed her and not only recognized her smarts, but perhaps more importantly her resilience, grit and initiative. I followed Ted Bauer’s creed: Always hire people smarter than yourself, set the framework, and turn them loose with support and resources. That’s what he and Gary and Bob did for me when they hired me to set up the money market credit research at AIM in 1984. The ripple effects are amazing."

When Polly retired, Donna assumed her role. After the financial crisis corporate governance issues were more front and center. T. Rowe Price created a full-time position and recruited Donna in 2007. 

AIM had quite a bit of female leadership which was unusual at that time- Donna Anderson

Prior to joining AIM, Donna had a variety of interesting jobs including working at a newspaper, at the State Department and then before joining AIM, she went to business school. In addition to interesting jobs, she had the unique experience of reporting to women. “My current role is the first time I’ve reported to a man in my whole career, apart from a couple of short interim periods,” said Donna.

There is no greater reward than for me to see Donna take the baton and do so much more to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace. - Polly Ahrendts

Companies with one diverse board member saw a 44% increase in their share price, on average, within a year of going public, according to Goldman research, while those with no board diversity had only a 13% increase. Board diversity is part of Donna’s wheelhouse. “While diversity is growing slowly, absolutely non diverse boards are shrinking fast,” shares Donna. “When we started our policy to vote against non diverse boards in 2017 there were 300 companies in our portfolios lacking diversity and now there are fewer than 80."

Learning of Barron's inaugural list of Top Women in U.S. Finance, Polly was thrilled. "These are issues that are close to my heart, and Dona is a woman that I care about and respect," said Polly. "There is no greater reward than for me to see Donna take the baton and do so much more to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace and at the highest levels in finance and commerce."

Led by Donna, T. Rowe Price is also taking a vocal stance on dual class shares; a controlling shareholder with two classes of stock, like Facebook for example. “We engage with companies and advocate for a time limit on those kinds of structures,” said Donna.

With responsibility for global coverage and covering the entire portfolio, Donna finds there is always something going on.

Says Alison Mass, one of Barron's honorees, who chairs Goldman’s investment-banking division: “This is a business imperative, not diversity for diversity’s sake....This isn’t just about women. It’s about diversity of thought, of background, of ethnicity, of gender....We’re at a moment where people recognize the business imperative of diverse thinking.”

What a celebration to have one of our own recognized on Barron's list.

Thank you to Donna for making time for this interview and sharing pictures from a hike with Polly and a shower where Donna is pictured wearing a hilarious hat.

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