Author: Maha Khan Phillips
CFA UK’s final Day One event of the Inclusion at the Heart of ESG virtual conference was an introduction of CFA Institute’s new DEI code, launched to foster commitment from institutions to DEI action after a two-year plus industry wide consultation and drafting process.
The code, which calls for signatory organisations to commit to six metrics-based principles, was introduced by Margaret Franklin, CFA, president and chief executive officer of CFA Institute. Sarah Maynard, ASIP, global head, external diversity, equity, and inclusion, CFA Institute, went through the commitments, and talked about how the code could be applied in the UK and beyond. “We recognise that this work has to be owned region by region because it presents differently region by region,” she said.
She also emphasised that achieving DEI was not going to happen overnight. “We want organisations to be very clear about what the purpose of this work is. This is not a commitment to be signed and then done in five years. We want this to be for the long term,” she said.
Maynard then introduced two colleagues who were part of the group that developed the code. Dominique Cherry, head of capital markets for the Philadelphia Board of Pensions and Retirement, emphasised the moral imperative for change, citing the words of John Lewis, the American civil rights leader and politician, who famously said: “When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something.”
“Throughout history, opportunities and access have intentionally been denied to people of colour,” she said, emphasising the deep inequalities that remain in societies today, the lack of representation of people of colour in boardrooms and senior positions, and calling out those institutions which are unwilling to be transparent about their own numbers.
“We know it’s not a pipeline issue, there is talent in communities of colour. It’s at the point where it’s time to hold people accountable and apply pressure to change this,” she said.
Cherry was then followed by Keon Holmes, CFA, managing director of Cambridge Associates, who spoke about his own experience of attending Howard University, a historically black university, on scholarship. Holmes grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and said that the investment industry had not crossed his radar, because in his community, lawyers, doctors, teachers and preachers were role models. “I studied engineering because I knew someone in my community that was an engineer and they suggested that I explore that,” he said.
He highlighted the fact that the number of diverse asset management leaders within the industry was still strikingly low. “There’s been a culture of exclusion economically, at least in the United States for a number of years within our industry and other part of our economy and I was just proud and happy to be part of the change that’s being demanded of our society,” he said.