BWAM publishes open letter to asset management industry

Diversity

Industry organisation Black Women in Asset Management (BWAM) has written an open letter to the asset management industry calling on investment firms to promote racial equity.

BWAM’s letter encourages senior leaders to set out actions which are aimed at leading to progress and give black women a greater voice in shaping investment  decisions, by urging the investment community to go beyond the earlier solidarity statements issued during this year’s global reckoning on racism.

“Continued incidents of police brutality have sparked a global awakening for many of our colleagues in the industry. This summer you saw many firms issuing solidarity statements denouncing racism and injustice," said Jacqueline Taiwo, co-founder  of BWAM and Associate General Counsel at TowerBrook Capital Partners.

She continued: "We are using this moment, when senior leaders are listening and open to dialogue, to put our recommendations forward and hopefully empower firms to move from statement to action.”

It is deliberately being published during Black History Month, to keep the issue front and centre within the asset management industry, according to the organisation.

Created in 2019, BWAM is a community for investment professionals, lawyers, consultants, administrators, and other advisors in asset management. “The group's members started discussing how to advocate for racial justice and also began to consider the responsibility of our industry in the global efforts to dismantle systemic racism,” said Adebanke Adeyemo, General Counsel of Vantage Infrastructure and member of BWAM’s Impact Committee.

Highlighting findings from the McGregor Smith Review published in 2018, BWAM cites reports that equal participation and progression across ethnicities would add GBP24 billion per year to the British economy. BWAM also refers to other studies showing that closing the racial wealth gap in the US alone would create an additional USD1 trillion in earnings and add USD8 trillion to GDP.

“Dismantling systemic racism creates a more sustainable and equitable society, however, investment  firms have been slow to see racism as a serious investment risk,” commented Taiwo.

The letter makes five recommendations for investment firms and institutional investors, which include building an anti-racist investment portfolio; expanding the pipeline of young black women entering investment careers; promoting black women to senior leadership positions; developing partnerships with black women to support investment activities and advocate for policy changes that dismantles systemic racism in society.

Adeyemo explained: “We wrote the letter to help stakeholders in the industry see racism as a sustainability problem with destructive impacts on all aspects of society. We would like to see the innovative approaches that are applied to reducing the investment risks associated with climate change applied to combating racism.

"The letter lays out why the stakeholders should care about structural racism and provides a constructive roadmap on how to promote racial equity through all aspects of investment activity,” she added.

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