Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Research1 has shown that firms with diverse employment perform better. An inclusive environment allows for greater collaboration and innovation.

The securities and capital markets industry has long recognized that building and maintaining a diverse and inclusive workforce that reflects the diversity of the clients and communities we serve is both the right thing to do and a business imperative.

While the industry has made progress, there is much that still needs to be accomplished from a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) perspective. SIFMA remains committed to this important topic and we stand behind our members and their firms’ initiatives in this space.

To complement ongoing initiatives and continue advancing this industry discussion, we recently introduced a three-part thought leadership webinar series on diversity and inclusion (D&I). Opening the first webinar, Measuring Progress, SIFMA President and CEO Kenneth E. Bentsen, Jr. stated that “achieving diversity in our workforce requires an ongoing commitment to fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion, from the breakroom to the boardroom.”

Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion SIFMA Twitter

This commitment – to proactively support, promote and advocate for a diverse and inclusive securities industry – is a priority of SIFMA’s Board of Directors. This is not just a candid conversation for diversity practitioners and HR professionals but for all SIFMA members, at all levels within an organization.

Through our Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council, we have facilitated strategic initiatives and helped member firms benchmark with their peers on ways to achieve their D&I goals. The first part of the D&I webinar series focused on one of those key initiatives: the necessity of metrics and measurement to demonstrate progress in the financial services industry and provide more industry transparency.

Measuring Progress

As featured speaker Gail Greenfield, Principal of Workforce Strategy & Analytics at Mercer Consulting, noted, “An organization’s diversity strategy is more likely to be effective if it is evidence-based.” Describing how firms can use data and analytics to build more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces, she outlined a framework for measuring DEI, which includes:

  • Identifying the current state of diversity and where the firm is headed in terms of talent
  • Regularly assessing pay equity
  • Measuring the inclusiveness of a firm’s culture by understanding the employee experience through:
    • Leadership interviews
    • Employee surveys
    • Focus groups
    • An analysis of how employees collaborate

Progress can be successfully tracked when data-driven DEI strategies are aligned with a firm’s business goals, supported by its leadership, and reflected in the values of the firm and employees. Diversity can only be sustained by an inclusive culture.

And, also importantly, as Gail Greenfield concluded, “Regardless of the programs or policies or practices that a firm has put in place, you must measure the outcome to assess the effectiveness of the program. You want to ensure that it has had the intended effect. In some cases, it may take a couple of years to see the fruits of your labor.”

Other D&I Initiatives

Our industry recognizes that a workforce that is diverse in demographics, experiences, talents, and ideas is the most effective way to cultivate varied perspectives, which benefit our employees and the economy as a whole. SIFMA and its members continue to expand efforts to foster and promote DEI. These efforts include innovative programs, initiatives and actionable steps focused on:

  • Building the cultural competence of leaders, including through unconscious bias training
  • Attracting diverse clients and diverse suppliers
  • Recruiting, nurturing and retaining a diverse workforce by implementing strategies to cultivate pipelines and expand targeted recruiting efforts
  • Advancing more women and people of color into senior roles through leadership development
  • Enhancing community outreach and engagement through increased financial literacy across schools

Learn More

Cheryl Crispen is Executive Vice President of Communications and Marketing at SIFMA. She also leads SIFMA’s diversity and inclusion efforts, serving as advisor for SIFMA’s Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Council.

1 Including studies such as Mercer’s 2020 report, When Women Thrive, Businesses Thrive; and McKinsey’s 2018 report, Delivering Through Diversity.