Consulting Firms Ask Asset Managers to Disclose Diversity Data

Verus and others have formed a diversity coalition as institutional pressure grows for greater racial equity. 

More than one dozen consulting firms are forming a diversity coalition amid greater calls for progress toward racial equity at the asset manager level. 

The group, calling itself the Institutional Investing Diversity Cooperative (IIDC), stewards more than $4 trillion in assets and is seeking more transparent data on diversity from investment teams, according to a release from investment consultant and outsourced chief investment officer (OCIO) provider Verus and research firm eVestment. 

“This is a critical issue for our industry,” Verus President Shelly Heier said in a statement. “And we had no doubt that our fellow consultants would rally behind a call for clarity and more useful data that would allow us to measure diversity beyond firm ownership.”

Other firms in the IIDC founded by Verus include the Angeles Investments, Aon, Canterbury Consulting, Ellwood Associates, LCG Associates, Marquette Associates, Meketa, Milliman Advisors, NEPC, SageView Advisory Group, Segal Marco Advisors, and SEI.

A survey was also distributed by eVestment to all asset managers in its database to disclose information on race, ethnicity, and gender. It also asked whether firms have policies to increase gender and ethnic diversity in their senior leadership and investment teams, and if they have mentoring programs for women and minorities. Plus, the survey asked whether the firm has completed a gender or ethnic diversity pay gap study.

“We also believe that having more women and minorities in asset management roles improves the conversation, opens opportunities for all, and benefits the community at large,” Heier said. 

Last year, following the George Floyd protests that led to a surge in the Black Lives Matter movement, institutional investors started putting the pressure on asset managers to incorporate diversity into their firms and their investment policies, as well as to disclose more data on their firm makeup. 

Racial justice in the broader US is an issue that President-elect Joe Biden, whose campaign is indebted heavily to Black voters, is expected to address when he steps into office Jan. 20.

In September, a coalition of firms representing more than $460 billion in market capitalization, including AllianceBernstein, Bank of America, and BlackRock, pledged to make measurable commitments to diversity within their own organizations and their greater communities. 

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