Diversity, equity and inclusion principles have migrated from investment portfolios to HR departments in recent years, but the extent of the financial services industry’s adoption of new strategies has been mired in abstract language. New data provides a rare glimpse into what progress asset managers have actually made since the shift. The key takeaways? While disparities between goals and results exist, firms are making strides to hire third-party service providers who reflect their intentions.

Analyzing self-reported responses from a set of 420 private and public market asset managers, Meketa Investment Group’s 2022 DEI survey builds on similar work from last year, providing some basis of comparison. The usual caveats apply—survey data suffers from respondent bias as firms with the largest commitments are disproportionately likely to submit answers. But the results provide some insight into changes in a new field.

A majority of respondents don’t use DEI criteria at the board level (56 percent), as an evaluation criteria for senior managers (62 percent), or to select third-party service providers (76 percent). But this last figure is down from 82 percent last year, suggesting some progress. It’s also notable that female- and minority-led investment banks appear to be gaining ground, with 32 percent of respondents targeting deals alongside diverse talent this year, up from 29 percent previously.

“We’re starting to see clients hiring advisers that mirror their goals on ESG,” says William Blair head of corporate advisory Christina Bresani. “I think there’ll be more of that.”

In other categories, asset managers are already ahead of other industries. Nearly three-quarters of respondents provided mental health or unconscious bias training to managers in the past year.

Brandon Zero