Increasing diversity increases diversity of thought

Editor’s Note: This month, InvestmentNews is running a series of articles around the importance of diversity.

Increasing diversity, equity and inclusion remains an issue within the financial sector, one that needs more than a band aid to cover the initial problem for reason for the lack of diversity.

The tumultuous year that was 2020 saw the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, follow the earlier death of Trayvon Martin, whose slaying sparked the Black Lives Matter movement, along with countless other black and brown people who have died at the hands of a system meant to protect them, but failing them greatly. These events have shown that there are flaws within the system. As a black female in the editorial department of a finance publication, it’s concerning to see the old adage of talk being cheap within the financial sector, where many will send out notes and memos, but few will take action to spur real change within the financial industry. As a black woman, I’ve faced racism and discrimination. Seeing another black man innocently lose his life, I realized that we not only have to do better but act on what we say we’re going to do. Not only saying I want to do this is enough, but the industry must say, “here’s how I will do this.”

It’s been proven that black and brown people are more likely to die at the hands of law enforcement than their white counterparts. Some people may ask how these deaths correlate with the finance industry? It comes back to systemic racism and injustices within  society, and within the finance industry minorities represent a staggering smaller group.

It’s important to form a pipeline so that younger minorities can be aware of the finance industry’s prospects and become educated on money matters and career opportunities within the finance industry. Numbers do show an increase in minorities holding the certified financial planning designation, which is a great start, but there’s still much that needs to be done for this to continue. Black and brown people are still underrepresented among financial advisers. We often say we can’t be what we can’t see, and that statement holds a significant amount of weight. Many times, minorities have to become their own role model and be the example of the person they’d want to look up to when they were growing up. This also comes back to mentorship and guidance, along with advancement in an industry where there are so few black and brown people within upper management roles making decisions in the boardroom.

After seeing the insurrections in January and watching some of the officers take selfies with rioters, a stark contrast to police brutality and force used at the BLM protests, it made me see that systemic racism and unconscious bias isn’t a one field problem, but it’s a huge issue that spills over into the establishment of society, personal and public life. So how do we solve it?

Diversity, equity and inclusion isn’t one of those things that gets solved overnight, but having a conversation about it at your firm is a massive first step. We all have unconscious biases, but the ability to look inward and then take steps on recognizing it and changing our thinking is critical. Additionally, taking concrete action at your practice after the conversation is important too. There is no greater time than now to have this discussion and really think about culture and diversity, equity and inclusion. It has been shown numerous times that diverse teams greatly outperform homogeneous teams, generate more revenue and have more diversity in thoughts and ideas. This can be imperative within the finance industry, where clients are starting to look less homogeneous as well. Diversity at a financial business is a competitive advantage because it broadens the skills and creative perspectives being brought to the table. 

Some key takeaways for increasing diversity, equity and inclusion at your practice are to have the important conversations about DEI, why it’s important, and to act on what you’re going to do to become an ally supporting the ongoing fight against racial injustice. Also, it is important to create a pipeline within the industry and mentoring programs from upper management for minorities. Doing so will ensure that your firm will have innovative ideas from people of all races and backgrounds. They can be their authentic selves and bring the best version of themselves to your firm.

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