To that end, the two foundations are partnering with fintech firm Lenox Park Solutions to survey and assess racial and gender diversity at the firms that manage a combined $10.8 billion on their behalf. According to Kresge, while the financial services industry has for decades been aware of its lack of diversity, a number of recent reports indicate that women and people of color continue to be significantly underrepresented in the field, especially when it comes to leadership positions. While asset management firms manage more than $250 billion on behalf of the top fifty foundations in the United States, a 2017 Knight Foundation study found that women and diverse-owned firms manage just 1.1 percent of the $71 trillion in total assets under management.
Considered a leader in collecting demographic data from the investment industry, Lenox Park has developed a comprehensive diversity assessment model that recognizes the importance of diverse firm ownership while capturing other metrics such as leadership and staff demographics, hiring, attrition, and board representation. To encourage broad survey participation and increase data transparency, the Kresge and MacArthur foundations are calling on investment managers at community, private, and family foundations, university endowments, and pension boards to adopt the Lenox Park model.
"We know that diversity of thought, background, and beliefs leads to better investment decisions and returns. So dismantling barriers that impede opportunity is not only the right thing to do, it's the smart way to work," said Kresge vice president and chief investment officer Robert J. Manilla. "We are early in this journey, but one thing has become glaringly apparent: talent is spread evenly across the investment industry, but opportunity is not."
"MacArthur is actively examining our approach to achieving impact with our investment assets, including increasing the diversity of our asset managers," said Susan E. Manske, the foundation's chief investment officer. "Through this partnership, asset managers also have the opportunity to assess and advance the diversity of their staffs to distinguish themselves among their competitors. Ultimately, we seek to expand racial, ethnic, and gender diversity in the financial services industry and consistently reflect our values as a mission-driven organization with our investments."
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