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Diversity Can’t be an Afterthought, and Other Key Learnings from InvestmentNews’ DEI Awards

By Abbie Sheridan, Diversitas board member

Diversitas board members Suzanne Siracuse, Abbie Sheridan, and Kate Healy accepting the InvestmentNews Diversity Champion Award

The feeling in the room at yesterday’s InvestmentNews’ Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Awards was inspiring. The energy was electric, probably because we were surrounded by incredible people who are making real change in our industry. While Diversitas is incredibly humbled to be named a diversity champion winner, that wasn’t even the best part. What really stood out was hearing from other leaders who are helping to foster diversity right alongside us. We had the opportunity to listen to lifetime achievement winner Eddie Brown, founder of Brown Capital Management, and Kamila Elliott, CFP board chair. Here are just a couple of the things that we learned from them:

Diversity can’t be an afterthought.

If you want to increase diversity in your firm, there needs to be a strategic effort in place. Actively looking for people of color and reaching beyond your network is critical. Two fantastic resources are the CFP Board and the Association of African American Financial Advisors.

Instilling trust in minority communities will help close the wealth gap.

In order to do that, you need to have diversity at your firm. Kamila also advises that you should be patient when educating clients and prospects that may not have a good understanding of their finances. Taking the time to educate yourself to connect with clients outside of your cultural community is key to helping build generational wealth in minority communities.

When you hire one person of color, instead bring on two.

This will help to improve your diversity efforts and avoid tokenism. Having the one minority team member is a surefire way to alienate them from the broader team. As Kamila put it, she is not the sole spokesperson for a gender or a race.

We need more allies and mentors.

Everyone needs to participate in diversity efforts, not just minorities. White males have been some of the most influential people in Kamila’s career, and she credits them for pushing her forward. If you want to help but aren’t sure how, clearly communicate your intentions and be transparent about what you want to accomplish.

Pay it forward.

As Eddie Brown so wisely said, “it’s not giving back – it’s paying it forward.” Think about how you can help others, either by donating to causes that are important to you or volunteering. Pro bono financial advisor work is so critical to our mission and to help individuals and families in need. And in the process, it can also interest minorities in working in our field. Check out opportunities from ffpprobono.org on probonoplannermatch.org.

Thank you to InvestmentNews for the recognition, and to all the honorees, winners, and supporters for their continued efforts, including our fellow winner and Diversitas sponsor, Financial Alliance for Racial Equity (FARE). Real change is possible as long as we continue to work together.

For more information about Diversitas and how you can get involved, email us at diversitas@diversitasfp.org. If you are interested in a career in financial services, please check out open opportunities here.