06.18.2019

IA To Help Increase Black Fund Managers

The Investment Association (IA) has published a landmark report into the experiences of black professionals working in the investment management industry and black students considering their careers. ‘Black Voices: Building black representation in investment management’ sets out ten key steps firms can take to create more diverse and inclusive workplaces.

Currently fewer than 1% of investment managers are black, even though people who identify as black comprise 3% of the UK population, with this rising to more than 13% in London, where the majority of the UK asset management industry’s workforce is based.

The IA’s report, created in conjunction with #talkaboutblack outlines ten practical steps for employers and employees to help increase the number of black employees within the industry, support their career progression, and ensure that their voices are heard, including:

Modernising recruitment processes by reaching out to a wider, more diverse entry-level talent pool. 30% of black professionals surveyed believed that finding work in investment management was challenging for young black people. Firms should also consider implementing ‘contextual recruitment’, in which hiring decisions take into account individuals’ circumstances and their innate abilities.

Establishing mentoring or talent development programmes, which can give younger staff the confidence and support needed to excel and feel less isolated. Currently, 40% of black professionals surveyed felt that their firms did not have policies in place to support the recruitment and progression of black employees.

Building black networks to help black people discover new opportunities within the industry. Over 50% of black professionals surveyed said that they had no black role models at work. Better networks could empower also black employees to share their thoughts on how black diversity and inclusivity can be improved.

Widening education on inclusion which recognises an individual’s whole identity and focuses on equality. Unconscious bias training may be a good starting point for managers and staff involved in recruitment and development, so that employees are more aware of any assumptions they may hold that affect their decision-making, but a deeper, more integrated approach to inclusion is a useful next step.

Using the term black, rather than BAME, which currently masks the different experiences and varying representations of ethnic groups. Many people also prefer to be described as being black, not BAME.

Chris Cummings, Chief Executive of the Investment Association, said:

“Diversity makes us all stronger. Different voices, opinions and experiences help investment performance, widening horizons and discouraging group think. And we need to be connected with all our clients. Just as our customers come from all ethnic backgrounds, so should our people.

“Building a diverse and inclusive industry requires self-reflection and honesty. This report seeks to do that by giving a voice to black people who have not previously always been heard.

“Our industry now has an opportunity to lead from the front in being a catalyst for social change, not just in our own investment houses but well beyond too. We must seize it.”

On behalf of #talkaboutblack, Justin Onuekwusi, Head of Retail Multi-Asset Funds at Legal & General Investment Management said:

“While ethnic minorities are generally underrepresented across the asset management industry, the issue becomes all the more pressing when we consider how few employees, especially those in senior leadership, are black.

“It has long been taboo to discuss ethnicity, yet change can only come about once we have these conversations. We created #talkaboutblack as a platform to not only discuss the challenges faced by our black colleagues, but to also come up with solutions. This is leading to tangible action and gives us a real opportunity to make the lasting change that we hope can inspire the next generation of aspiring black asset and investment management professionals.

“We are grateful to the Investment Association for partnering with us and encouraging the industry to not only push forward the conversation, but also to implement real action and change.”

Source: The Investment Association

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