Inclusion & diversity (I&D) is critical to the future of the investment management industry. An inclusive environment ensures equitable access to resources and opportunities for all. An inclusive culture that leverages diverse views will be an important element in determining a firm’s success.
A rapidly evolving finance industry demands new capabilities and a more diverse workforce and inclusive workplace cultures. According to CFA Institute’s own definition of I&D, diversity is the spectrum of human attributes, perspectives, identities, and backgrounds while inclusion is a dynamic state of operating in which any individual or group can be and feel respected, valued, safe, and fully engaged. Each of these factors must be deliberately encouraged and leveraged to develop a successful, diverse, and inclusive environment. According to a recent PwC Global survey, 85 percent of financial services CEOs polled said promoting inclusion and diversity helps enhance business performance. Other research also supports the business case for inclusive cultures that lead to increased profitability, creativity, and innovation. Indeed, a 2019 McKinsey & Co. study revealed top-quartile companies for racial and ethnic inclusion outperformed those in the fourth quartile by 36% in profitability.
The discussion around motivations for pursuing diversity in investment management often revolves around two main areas: “the business case for diversity” (i.e., with more diverse perspectives, business outcomes will improve) and “because it is the right thing to do.” Overall, asset management firms tend to be in a reactive phase of diversity and inclusion, meaning that actions are taken primarily to comply with local laws and social pressure.
CFA Institute seeks to drive I&D efforts in the investment management industry toward more progressive policies and to demonstrate best practice to create more inclusive investment profession. Through the CFA Institute-led Experimental Partners Program, more than 40 participating firms (representing $17 trillion in assets under management) are committed to incorporating more diverse perspectives into how they run their businesses, and into investment decision making to improve investor outcomes. They are also encouraging the industry to embrace different viewpoints.
A key area of focus is on managing biases, including in hiring and advancement. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has shown that those firms that have stressed inclusive leadership, built trust through leveraging Employee Resource Groups, and supported regular unconscious bias training for managers adapted more quickly to widely adopted work-from-home arrangements.