Given that Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) policies and programmes can pose advantages for firms, more initiatives around this topic are being launched in investment management.
I have spent a lot of my time working on our B Corp submission (which was successful – White Marble is now B Corp certified) talking with colleagues across departments about internal policies and practices, and exploring what we can do as a business to ensure a high standard of social impact. One particularly nuanced area, which continues to mean different things to different people and businesses, is DE&I. This made me think: what can we learn from other industries and business functions?
With this in mind, I’ve asked Valerie Verharen, Managing HR Consultant at Capgemini Invent*, for her perspective on DE&I. Valerie has experience supporting organisations and HR departments across various sectors as they improve their employee experience, which takes DE&I into account.
As such, Valerie's view is that the need for a more diverse and inclusive workforce isn't confined to the investment management industry; leaders across a range of businesses and sectors also feel that it is key to remaining competitive. Teams with a good mix of gender and ethnicity are 21% more likely to outperform their competitors1, while one study suggests that highly inclusive organisations generate 1.4 times more revenue.2 Younger generations also increasingly value working for organisations driven by a sense of purpose and meaning.3 DE&I is often a key part of that.
The view from investment management: a changing landscape
Firms are developing more products focused on equal opportunities and gender issues, with exchange-traded product providers including SPDR, Barclays and ImpactShares offering strategies focused on gender diversity and women’s leadership. Hypatia Capital recently launched its Women CEO ETF4, while BNY Mellon followed suit with its Women's Opportunities ETF.5
Investor demographics are changing too. According to a 2023 Broadridge survey, there is a new wave of youthful investors entering markets, but the full demographic shift is bigger and broader, expanding opportunities across generations. An increasing percentage of investors of all generations did not graduate from college and there are more investors with a lower level of assets under management, reflecting the growing democratisation of financial markets.6
As the investor base is gradually becoming more diverse in terms of ethnicity, gender and socioeconomic background, initiatives such as the 10,000 Interns Foundation (formerly 10,000 Black Interns)7, The Diversity Project8 and the B Corp certification9 are helping businesses bridge the gap between 'talking the talk' and 'walking the walk'. There are also tangible commercial incentives for this, with one study finding that for every one per cent rise in gender diversity and one per cent rise in ethnic diversity in a workforce, there is a three and nine per cent rise in sales revenue, respectively.10
Given that White Marble is a marketing consultancy within investment management, we're conscious of how DE&I can shape marketing efforts in this sector. It's crucial to regularly review your client segments, personas and customer journeys to ensure that you truly understand how your audience and its needs are changing. Providing the right content, at the right time, through the right channels is key, and this content should be inclusive of the clients you serve while still feeling authentic to your brand.
The view from HR: how to embed DE&I into a firm's 'DNA'
To become truly diverse and inclusive, DE&I should be integrated into the DNA of an organisation. It should be part of the culture – the way people behave, communicate and interact with each other. This is not something you can achieve in a day. However, HR can play an important role in gradually building a diverse and inclusive organisation. This is relevant to a broad range of businesses – while White Marble works solely in the investment management field, these insights into how HR departments can assist in implementing DE&I aren't sector-specific.
The first step is creating a solid DE&I strategy that is aligned with the overall strategy of the firm, and is strongly supported by senior leadership. HR should act as the key enabler of this strategy across the complete employee life cycle, ensuring that DE&I is embedded in an organisation's processes and working practices. The right inclusive leaders should be identified and hired, the right people within the organisation should be developed and receive education on DE&I issues, and efforts should be made to retain inclusive leaders and employees. It's also key that behaviours that aren't aligned with the organisation's DE&I strategy are recognised and improved upon.
It’s not one-size-fits-all
Inevitably, approaches to integrating DE&I will vary based on the business you work for and the function you work in. However, whether you work in marketing or HR – or beyond – we believe some principles hold true across the board. In order to achieve a positive long-term social impact, businesses need to ensure that the right people – across different departments, levels of seniority, genders, ages and socio-economic backgrounds – are involved in shaping and implementing policies and programmes that align with an overall business strategy. This is true regardless of a business' shape or size, or the industry it exists in. After all, which business wouldn't want the golden ticket of higher employee engagement and outperforming its peers?
Senior Marketing Executive, White Marble Consulting
*This article is written on personal title – White Marble and Capgemini Invent operate separately and not within a business partnership