CFAs call for more racial diversity

Investment professionals doubt firms are doing enough to recruit from racially diverse backgrounds despite the prominence of diversity and inclusion in the industry.

The CFA Society of the UK found only 35% of professionals it surveyed were confident their firm was doing enough to recruit from racially diverse backgrounds.

The findings are revealed in the same week that UK-based Black Women in Asset Management called on the industry to back up allegiance expressed by firms with Black Lives Matter (BLM) this year.

However, the Society did say more attention has been paid to ethnic diversity since the start of the BLM protests. Almost half of respondents (49%) said they had noticed an increased focus on ethnic diversity in their firm since the start of the recent BLM events.

Nevertheless, ethnic diversity was a “particular area of concern” in the Society’s annual ‘Inclusion & Diversity Survey’, with “only” 35% (out of 547 responses) saying they believed their firm was doing enough to recruit from diverse racial backgrounds. A further 38% said their firm was not doing enough. The remaining 27% were unsure.

Just over a quarter said ethnicity was an area of inclusion and diversity to be improved – a significantly higher proportion than those who identified areas such as gender diversity (16%), socio-economic diversity (12%), and LGBTQ+ diversity (4%). 

Another finding of the survey was that 44% felt there was not enough opportunity at work to personally get involved in improving diversity in the investment profession – although 51% said there was enough opportunity.   

Olivia Maguire, the newly appointed chair of CFA UK’s inclusion and diversity committee, said: “Inclusion and diversity have firmly been at the top of firms’ agendas this year, so it’s disappointing to learn that almost half of the investment professionals surveyed still feel like they don’t have enough opportunity to personally get involved in improving diversity in the investment profession, at work.”

More broadly, the survey revealed the top three issues needing progress were “inclusive talent acquisition and retention”, the pay gap, and representation at board and executive level.

Another point of concern was cognitive diversity, with two thirds of investment professionals (66%) saying there was not enough focus on it at firms.

Sixty-three percent of respondents felt their firm adequately supports inclusion and diversity, and 51% felt there is enough opportunity at work to personally get involved in improving diversity.

CFA Society of the UK works with firms to share best practices and the CFA Institute is working on the development of an industry-wide Inclusion Code, which is aimed for launch in 2021.

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