FEG 2019 Forum Q&A Series: Diversity and Inclusion

FEG's Christina Drake participated in the Women in Investing event at the FEG 2019 Investment Forum. Just before the event, we talked with her about why Diversity and Inclusion are so important and discussed the D&I efforts being implemented at FEG.

My name's Christina Drake. I'm a vice president at FEG. I joined the team in 2016 and I work with our consulting and OCIO clients.

 

Q: Increasingly, diversity is an issue that many investment firms struggle with.  Is diversity important to FEG?

  Diversity is absolutely important to FEG. We know that if we want the best outcomes for our clients and for ourselves, for our team, that we need a diverse team. There's research that shows that diverse groups actually come up with better solutions, more creative and successful solutions than do homogenous groups. So it's absolutely something that's important to us and that we want. But I also would say that inclusion is equally as important to us. We believe they go hand in hand because you can work really hard to build a diverse team, but if people don't feel welcome, if they don't feel at home, if they don't feel they can bring their full selves to work, then it's not going to last. And so we believe that both are incredibly important.

 

Q: Is FEG taking steps to increase diversity in its workforce?

  FEG hopes to be a leader when it comes to diversity and inclusion within the investment and finance world, and so we are trying to take a holistic approach. We've spent a lot of time doing research and brainstorming with others in the industry about how we can best serve our team and make sure that we are as diverse as possible.

  First, through that research we wanted to understand what do we look like today and what are we missing? What do we hope to look like in the future? And what do we need to do to get there? And so, as a committee, our efforts have really been focused on recruitment and hiring. They've also been focused on evaluating our processes and procedures. A really good example of that is right now actually we are going through our employee handbook with a fine tooth comb, and we are recommending updates and additions to that handbook to our leadership team so that it reflects a more inclusive culture.

 

Q: How do you measure success for your diversity and inclusion initiatives? What benchmarks does FEG hope to hit?

  Above all else, year over year improvement is the most important benchmark for us. We want to see improvement in the diverse candidates that we're hiring and we want to see improvement in the women and people of color who are being promoted within our firm. We also want to see improvement in our community. That has been a really important initiative as part of the committee has been finding different ways to connect with people who are in college, or even as young as middle school and high school to get them interested in investing, get them interested in financial literacy and understanding that these are roles and these are careers that are accessible to them.

 

Q: Does FEG participate in other outreach programs within the community?

  Like I said, one of our main objectives as a DNI committee is to improve financial and investment literacy within our community. First of all, because it aligns with the mission of our clients. It's important to them and so therefore it's important to us. But second, it helps to address a systemic issue that we see in the investment industry as it relates to diversity and inclusion, which is a lot of girls and people of color, children of color, don't realize that these careers, that these types of roles are available to them. We're working with nonprofits in Cincinnati, where we're having conversations with middle schoolers, with high schoolers about their career paths, about mentorship and about career readiness and making sure that they know what it takes to join this industry and that they know that it's open to them.

 

Q: How do you implement diversity in your recommended manager list?

  That is something that we have started to implement today. Diversity among FEG's recommended manager list is important. Today, just over 10% of our recommended managers are women or person of color owned and we hope to grow that list. It's something that we started tracking as part of this initiative. Additionally, we also started tracking all of our recommended manager's diversity and inclusion policies, and so making them aware that this is something that is becoming more and more important to us and to our clients.

 

Q: Do employee resource groups play a role at FEG?

  Yes. Actually that is one of the initiatives that we established this year. At the Diversity and Inclusion Committee we started a women's group and the purpose of the group is just to provide an internal network for the women who work at FEG to share best practices and share their wins and share some of their struggles and just generally to provide a platform for people who may not feel comfortable sharing their experience otherwise.