We at SVCF believe that there is no contradiction in wanting to maximize investment performance and championing investment manager diversity. While this belief is firmly rooted in our core values of diversity and inclusion, it is also driven by our fiduciary duty to maximize return by ensuring that we are not excluding qualified people of color and women managers due to hidden biases.
In 2014, SVCF challenged itself and its consultant at the time, Colonial Consulting (now known as Crewcial Partners), to confront biases in our investment process and explore how to better engage more diverse-owned asset management firms across its investment portfolio. We also made a commitment to share our progress and experiences and are pleased to do so here and in the resources listed in the margin.
In 2020, SVCF completed an investment consultant search and hired Cambridge Associates as its investment consultant. Cambridge Associates has continued driving progress toward creating world-class investment portfolios and contributing to a more inclusive financial industry.
Our foundation's goal in sharing this information is to encourage other foundations and institutional investors to embrace the entirety of their fiduciary responsibilities, ask critical questions, confront biases and take action toward more inclusive investment practices.
Before we launched this effort in 2014, SVCF employed three minority- and/or women-owned asset management firms with whom we had invested $52 million. As of June 30, 2021, we have deployed $319 million to diverse-owned firms. This represents over 30 percent of total non-cash assets advised by our investment consultant.
We define a minority- and/or woman-owned investment management firm as one in which ownership is 33 percent or more who are Asian, Black, Latino, Native American, Pacific Islander or female. Our focus is on seasoned, qualified managers with a track record of experience.
Our measure of success is not a target number of managers or assets. Rather, it is confidence that talented diverse managers are not being overlooked or screened out. Success is common knowledge in the industry of the existence of numerous high performing, diverse-owned asset management firms that are valued and seamlessly considered by institutional investors.
We invite our peer foundations and other institutional investors to consider the following actions to assess manager screening and selection process to eliminate bias:
Ask key questions - How many manager searches were conducted last year, how many were women and minority firms, and how many were hired?
If no people of color or women were recommended, then that is a red flag to be discussed with your consultant and/or staff. If no diverse managers were hired from those recommended, then that is a red flag to have a candid discussion about bias that may exist with the investment committee.
Engage - Address implicit biases by discussing the importance of diversity, inclusion, transparency and accountability with your trustees, staff and consultant.
Measure - Ask your investment consultant on an annual basis how many managers of color or women they have evaluated, recommended to their other clients, and how many were hired.
- Report - Share your progress and experience with the field.
SVCF's Investment Consultant's Process
Cambridge Associates has committed to the following process and targets to increase coverage and hiring of diverse managers.