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Asset management must do more to address diversity & inclusion

29 September 2020

Bev Shah, chief executive of City Hive, has called on the investment management industry to do more to address diversity and inclusion within the sector.

In an open letter to chief executives, Shah said she was disappointed by the “lack of real, genuine action” by leadership to prioritise diversity and inclusion.

Shah says that despite an increase in awareness through the #Black Lives Matter, #Times Up, #Metoo and #IAM movements, a lack of tangible, measurable results has demonstrated where diversity and inclusion sit in terms of company priorities.

Shah says: “To create impactful changes, firms must make significant cultural changes and that starts at the top. Awareness does not equal action. Improving diversity, be it gender, ethnicity, LGBTQ, education, socioeconomic, neurodiversity and so forth, should be embedded as a key business objective, not a nice to have once a year on International Women’s Day or when there has been a gross injustice.

“Diversity and inclusion matter 365 days of the year and should be ingrained in every company’s prudent, sustainable management.”

According to Shah, while investment management organisations have made progress with sustainability and ESG, she argues that firms are failing to meet their own sustainability responsibilities by not prioritising diversity to create a more “inclusive and equitable industry.”

Shah says: “Studies have proven that diversity of thought, experience and background create greater, positive, long-term outcomes. For an industry which is reliant on idea generation and innovation it is shocking that companies continually overlook these advantages. Chief executives talk the talk. However, without action, this is just box-ticking. Few, if any, can walk the walk.”

Shah, who founded City Hive to create a more diverse, inclusive corporate culture, says firms are neglecting to support their biggest asset – their employees. Shah believes the Covid-19 crisis has irreparably changed the landscape of the workplace as well as how people think about work and increasingly employees will want to work for meaningful companies that invest in them and have a progressive culture.

Shah adds: “Firms need to realise that attraction and retention of talent incorporates having a diverse and equitable culture and ensuring there are channels of growth for all individuals through the entirety of their career with the firm. Companies need to do this to reduce risk and futureproof their business, it is no longer an option.

“We need to work collectively as an industry, to establish and create measurable results, catalyse the cultural change that is needed and start to embed diversity, inclusion and equality into business objectives.”

Professional Paraplanner