“How to be an ally”: AIMA sets out practical recommendations for hedge funds on diversity and inclusion

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The Alternative Investment Management Association has published a new paper on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), setting out practical measures outlining how asset managers and other firms can be betters allies to colleagues from minority or underrepresented groups.

Against the backdrop of 2020’s Black Lives Matter protests, the Covid-19 pandemic’s disproportionate impact on women, minorities and disadvantaged groups, and continued calls for improved diversity and representation in hedge funds’ boardrooms, AIMA’s paper – titled ‘How to be an Ally: Stories from the Hedge Fund Industry’ - gathers together a wide range of personal perspectives and stories from across the sector on how firms can improve their approach to such challenges.

It includes contributions from Carol Ward, president, Man GLG, Laura Garzon, associate at CIBC Capital Markets, Melody Rollins, client advisor at Bridgewater Associates, and Gemma Hagen, director of technology at Aspect Capital.

“The need to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the alternative investment management industry has never been clearer,” the guide noted. “Faced with systemic injustices, members of our industry have asked AIMA what they can do. Many of those people were not in management positions, and most of them were not members of minority or disadvantaged groups.

“They wanted to know what they could do to help their colleagues, even if they could not directly shape firm policy. More to the point, they wanted to know how they could help without seeming insensitive, or as if they were acting out of misplaced charity.”

AIMA CEO Jack Inglis said the new guide follows the trade body’s previous work on DEI, including its paper ‘The Alternatives’, which offered a series of practical steps for firms looking to do more to improve DEI in the industry.  Building on the new paper’s contributions, AIMA sets out four broad pillars - listening, supporting, educating, and persisting – to help firms strengthen their allyship.  In practical terms, these recommendations include taking actions to make colleagues feel comfortable and accepted, ensuring colleagues are invited to meetings and events with an opportunity to speak, and contributing to educational initiatives at firms.

As diversity and inclusion continues to focus minds within the hedge fund industry, industry participants believe there is a need to now move beyond box-ticking exercises on such issues.

“The people who come to work every day in the industry are the essential element in the success of DEI,” said Robyn Grew, group COO and general counsel at Man Group, chair of AIMA’s DEI steering group, and vice chair, AIMA Council.

“It has to be embedded in the culture of our industry at every level, from the reception desk to the executive office.”