Attracting and retaining LGBT+ talent in the investment management industry

Why is having a diverse workforce important in the investment management industry?

While most people would agree it’s simply the right thing to do, InterInvest believes that building a diverse workforce, where people can be their authentic selves and bring a range of experience and perspectives to their roles, is the means to a happier workforce and a more productive and more profitable business.

However, achieving diversity is not without its challenges.

In October 2019, individuals from our member firms, associated recruitment firms and guest speakers from Janus Henderson, LGBT Great and Investment20/20 came together for InterInvest’s first recruitment-themed event.

We focused on how we can work together to ensure that LGBT+ talent is attracted to our industry and forms a key part of the workforce going forward.

At this event we:

  • Discussed the importance of attracting and retaining talent from the LGBT+ community
  • Examined the challenges the investment industry faces in attracting that talent
  • Looked at what firms are already doing well, and what we can learn from them

Why should we care about diversity and attracting diverse talent into the industry?

Diversity enhances business performance

The first guest speaker to address the room was Georgina Fogo, Chief Risk Officer at Janus Henderson, our host firm for the event. Georgina echoed our view that being able to bring your whole self to work is not just the right thing to do, but it makes business sense. Firms who promote and support diversity will help people to thrive in their roles and deliver their best work, which in turn benefits the business and their clients.

“Being able to bring your whole self to work is not just the right thing to do but makes good business sense” – Georgina Fogo

A lack of diversity is a risk – and it’s about social justice 

Karis Stander, MD of Investment20/20 sees the importance of diversity in the investment industry from three perspectives – as a key differentiator in performance, as a regulatory risk indicator and as a matter of social justice.

“…a key differentiator in performance, a regulatory risk indicator and a matter of social justice”  – Karis Stander

It is widely accepted that collective business success relies on our ability to maximise potential from all employers because of the value diversity brings in complex decision-making. A lack of diversity at a senior level in firms is perceived as a clear business risk from a regulatory perspective. While social justice would dictate that the industry should be an environment where everyone can thrive and be treated equally – the human element.

Karis maintains that for the investment industry to thrive, it must be a welcoming place, where everyone in it can thrive regardless of their background, ethnicity, gender or sex. The adoption of D&I is critical to the investment industry’s long-term success. 

What are the challenges faced by the industry? 

There is still much to do

Kathleen Reeves, Co-Head of HR at Janus Henderson gave a longer-term perspective on diversity, saying that when her career began it wasn’t an active consideration for any businesses. Over the course of her career things have moved on significantly and beneficially, however she emphasised that there is still much to do around diversity and inclusion.

The concept of D&I itself is constantly evolving, quoting a recent conversation with a colleague who’d said that for them it was also about ‘belonging’. So the challenge for firms is to keep pace and in tune with D&I issues and the needs of its employees. 

The LGBT+ experience

Matt Cameron, Managing Director of LGBT Great, brought some valuable insight to the room on specific industry challenges around diversity. His insight is gleaned from research conducted with employees from a wide range of industry firms. 

His snapshot of statistics and data highlighted that: 

  • Banter was the number one concern for LGBT individuals: 40% of respondents had experienced or witnessed homophobic or transphobic ‘banter’ at work; 25% were considering leaving their current employer
  • LGBT+ policy formation and implementation is important: only half of respondents were aware that such policies existed 
  • There is a lack of LGBT+ visibility, role models and networks: 54% said they had no LGBT+ network, while 62% had no visible allies
  • LGBT+ inclusion is vital in attraction and retention of talent: 42% state evidence of LGBT+ inclusion is important when job seeking; 22% believed if they were out at work it would harm their career prospects

So what can firms do to attract and retain LGBT+ talent?  

Across the employee lifecycle there are many things firms can do to attract LGBT+ talent and be more inclusive employers – from how a firm positions its D&I approach to potential talent, to the selection of that talent, and finally the experience of LGBT+ individuals once they’re on board. 

Download this guide in PDF format here >

From the outside looking in

Promote the positive

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) can be a key differentiator for a firm. Communicate what you are doing to promote and support D&I via all channels available to you. Share it on your website, via social media, mention it at events. Embed the message that you are supportive of diversity and are an inclusive employer. People specifically seek this information and if they can’t find it, they won’t consider you as an option. 

Reposition the investment industry

Karis Stander makes the point that the investment industry is seen as ‘opaque’. Collectively we need to reposition it, re-establish capitalism’s contract with society, make your firm and the industry as a whole an attractive proposition to new talent and future generations. 

Encourage and use visible role models and allies

Role models make all the difference – a lack of role models in senior positions coupled with the perception of the industry as an ‘old boys club’ will put people off coming into the industry. It also prevents employees from being open about their sexuality at work which in turn means they will be more likely to leave. 

Senior individuals from firms can join the LGBT Great list of role models and allies, or become an Investment20/20 ambassador. Within your own firm, you can make role models and allies visible – at events, on the steerco of your network, on your intranet, or public-facing website. 

The recruitment process

Reduce the barriers and keep them down

Consider applicants from outside the investment management world. Not all roles require extensive industry experience. To gain a real range of skills and expertise, look outside.

Have empathy and provide unconscious bias training

Try to see the world through other people’s eyes – and help your employees to; work to remove unconscious bias in your hiring managers and recruitment agencies, and workforce as a whole. 

Unconscious bias training is vital to help employees to become aware of their own biases and issues that may be stopping them from recruiting outside their own comfort zone. Provide training, and repeat it on a regular basis.  

Help recruitment agencies: don’t assume they know what you want

Make sure that your agencies know you are looking for a wide pool of talent that goes beyond a certain demographic. Make sure they are not making assumptions on your behalf about the kinds of candidates you want to meet. 

Turn the recruitment process on its head 

Don’t recruit for polish, but recruit for potential; use your unconscious bias training to look beyond the standard pool of talent you have gone to historically by default. 

Keep evolving and investing in D&I

Keep questioning 

Diversity and inclusion is not a static entity – as a firm you need to keep abreast of D&I-related issues, keep your policies up to date, your terminology relevant, your training adequate. Keep talking to your LGBT+ networks, keep investing in partnerships with expert organisations who can give you insight. 

Ensure your policies are LGBT+ inclusive and reviewed regularly

Firms can partner with organisations such as Stonewall to review HR policies and receive advice on how to make those policies truly LGBT+ inclusive. 

Enable LGBT+ networks to be established and support them

While firms are often happy for an LGBT+ network to be set up, relatively little is provided by way of financial or people resource to support those networks. This means that a lot of the D&I work that potential employees see is being driven by volunteers in their own time. Firms need to commit to ensuring their networks have the support they need to keep momentum going, and in turn the networks can provide experience and expertise that will enable the firm to be truly inclusive. 

Share best practice and work together 

With most things in life, a collective approach is the way to get things done. Not all firms are as far down the road on inclusion as others. Joining and supporting organisations like InterInvest or Investment20/20 means your employees can meet peers from other firms, can share experiences and best practice and together drive inclusion across the industry. No network should be left to figure it out alone. 

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