The IA's 'Black Voices: Building black representation in investment management' report launched today has been created in conjunction with #talkaboutblack and sets out 10 steps firms should take to maintain an inclusive and diverse workplace.
Currently, fewer than 1% of investment managers in the UK today are black despite 3% of the UK population identifying as black.
Furthermore, in London - where the majority of the UK investment management industry's workforce is located - more than 13% of the city dwellers identify as black, highlighting that the investment industry is still not reflecting the diversity of the UK.
The ten steps laid out in the report created by the Investment Association (IA) and #talkaboutblack also aim to support existing black employees in the industry and to ensure their voices are heard.
The report explores the idea of modernising the recruitment process that is currently restricted to specific talent pools.
Of the black professionals surveyed 30% said finding work in the investment industry is more challenging for young black people; they strongly advocated for ‘contextual recruitment' where hiring decisions take into account an individual's circumstances as well as their innate abilities.
Beyond the recruitment process, 40% of black professionals admitted their firms do not have policies in place that offer support when concerning the recruitment and progression of black employees. The IA has recommended firms should look to established talent development schemes.
One of the major issues felt by just over half of the black professionals surveyed was the issue of having no black role models in the workplace to look up to.
In response, the IA and #talkaboutblack have jointly called for better networks to be introduced, which would allow black employees to empower one another through sharing views on the current levels of diversity and inclusivity that exists in their firms' and how this could be improved.
The report also emphasised the need for diversity education to more effectively tackle the likes of unconscious bias in the industry, as well as using the term black as opposed to BAME.
Chris Cummings, chief executive of the IA, commented: "Diversity makes us all stronger. Different voices, opinions and experiences help investment performance, widening horizons and discouraging group think. And we need to be connected with all our clients. Just as our customers come from all ethnic backgrounds, so should our people.
"Building a diverse and inclusive industry requires self-reflection and honesty. This report seeks to do that by giving a voice to black people who have not previously always been heard.
'Catalyst for social change'
"Our industry now has an opportunity to lead from the front in being a catalyst for social change, not just in our own investment houses but well beyond too. We must seize it."
On behalf of #talkaboutblack, Justin Onuekwusi, head of retail multi-asset funds at Legal & General Investment Management added: "While ethnic minorities are generally underrepresented across the asset management industry, the issue becomes all the more pressing when we consider how few employees, especially those in senior leadership, are black.
"It has long been taboo to discuss ethnicity, yet change can only come about once we have these conversations. We created #talkaboutblack as a platform to not only discuss the challenges faced by our black colleagues, but to also come up with solutions. This is leading to tangible action and gives us a real opportunity to make the lasting change that we hope can inspire the next generation of aspiring black asset and investment management professionals.
"We are grateful to the Investment Association for partnering with us and encouraging the industry to not only push forward the conversation, but also to implement real action and change."
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