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Magazine Issues » September 2020

Why Covid mustn’t hinder D&I

Corinne_Lamesch_ALFIDiversity is really about empowering people by respecting what makes them different, whether it’s their age, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, education or nationality.

Luxembourg, for example, is a multicultural country with a multitude of different nationalities, each one bringing a diverse set of perspectives, alongside work and life experiences. 

It’s clear, not only from leading studies but also from my own personal experience, that diverse teams make better decisions. Indeed, companies with diverse boards and senior management make potentially more innovative decisions and it allows for thinking outside the box due to different backgrounds. 

Before Covid-19, diversity and inclusion (D&I) was high on the agenda for many firms, with different approaches taken across Europe. Norway, Belgium, Italy, France, Germany and the Netherlands have tried to tackle the under-representation of women on boards by introducing gender quotas of between 30%-40% in listed companies, with differing reach and levels of enforcement. Others have voluntary business-led initiatives in place, such as the UK HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter pledge to improve gender balance in financial services. 

I’m proud to have launched the Alfi D&I Forum in my first year as chair. Our mission is to accelerate progress towards diversity and an inclusive culture within the Luxembourg fund industry. 

This forum will serve as a platform to exchange ideas and best practices on D&I between our members. To know which aspects to focus on, an assessment of the Luxembourg environment will be made and Alfi recently launched a survey in this respect. 

The asset management industry mindset, including in Luxembourg, has shifted more recently and there’s a real intention and commitment to become more diverse and inclusive. Most are convinced about the case for outperformance from diverse teams. Diversity and inclusion are multi-faceted issues which need to be tackled holistically to better engage, promote and support all groups. 

This needs to be tackled with a combination of initiatives. Companies are more and more setting clear targets and key performance indicators. Managers are trained on how to apply D&I within the day-to-day management of their teams. This starts with the recruitment process to ensure team members come from diverse backgrounds and nationalities.

The industry needs a good pipeline of talent at entry level, so financial services have to be made more appealing and more interesting. It is essential that a good work/life balance is in place for all so the onus of childcare does not just fall to females. Furthermore, shared parental leave will allow both parents career progression. Likewise, a culture of flexible working is key in allowing all employees to adapt their working hours according to their needs. In addition, mentoring and sponsorship programmes help women in particular with career progression. 

As a strong supporter of D&I, I’m encouraged by the progress that has been made over the last three to five years. However, Covid-19 has put a pause on some activities and I’m urging firms not to let that last too long. This is the perfect opportunity to reflect on how diverse and inclusive firms have been performing during this crisis and how they can emerge stronger, more resilient and contribute to building a better future.

Corinne Lamesch is the chairperson of Alfi

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