Asset management workers call on industry to promote more black women and tackle 'systemic racism'

Naomi Ackerman
·2-min read
(Adebanke Adeyemo)
(Adebanke Adeyemo)

A coalition of asset management workers has urged the industry to promote more black women and to tackle "systemic racism" through its investment portfolios.

Black Women in Asset Management - launched in London in 2019 - has published an open letter calling on bosses across the sector to "go beyond solidarity statements and instead commit to action" when it comes to diversity within its ranks.

Less than 1% of investment managers in the UK are black, according to a recent report from industry body, The Investment Association.

BWAM member Adebanke Adeyemo, General Counsel at Vantage Infrastructure, said that the group hopes to offer "a meaningful framework to bring about long overdue change in our industry".

Ms Adeyemo praised recent moves by private equity giant Blackstone, headed up by chief executive Stephen Schwarzman (Getty Images)
Ms Adeyemo praised recent moves by private equity giant Blackstone, headed up by chief executive Stephen Schwarzman (Getty Images)

The lawyer told the Standard: "A lot of these companies are in London, some in East London, and we are asking them to invest in the communities where they do business and invest money.

"It's also about making sure the environment is conducive, when you do bring people in, to their growth and development.

"We are trying to be as micro as possible and say 'here is one possible solution'."

Ms Adeyemo said people in the industry "seem like they are more aware and do want to act" in the wake of coverage of the Black Lives Matter movement this year.

"We wrote this letter because we believe people will listen," she said. "We are saying, please partner with black women - we have ideas about how things could improve."

Karis Stander, managing director of The Investment Association’s careers service, Investment 20/20, said: "Increasing black representation within investment management will take deliberate and meaningful action.

"The industry is already taking steps in the right direction... There is however always more that can be done to ensure our industry is a place where black people feel welcome and can flourish."

It comes after private equity giant Blackstone announced that it will only invest in companies with boards made up of at least 33% of directors from diverse backgrounds.

Blackstone said it was defining diverse as meaning women, people from ethnic minority backgrounds, and directors who are LGBTQ+ .

Ms Adeyemo said the Blackstone announcement was "amazing to see" and "is a really encouraging" sign of changes to come.

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