Chicago Area Financial Services Industry Leaders Convene to Launch Joint Actions to Increase Diversity and Inclusion

On October 28, 2016, more than 120 executives and professionals from the 20 member firms that constitute the FSP Initiative, representatives of agencies and organizations partnering with the Initiative, and guests from potential future member firms and partner organizations convened at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to launch key projects for the next year of the Financial Services Pipeline (FSP) Initiative.

The Initiative, now in its third year as a collaborative of leading financial services organizations in Chicago, aims to increase representation of African-Americans and Latinos at all levels in the industry and to improve overall cultural competency in the sector.  During its first two years, Initiative members focused on formation of the collaborative and analysis of the key issues, based on comprehensive research in the Chicago region.  During the current year, member firms have been engaged in planning joint actions that aim to address what the data indicate is a persistent and potentially growing gap in participation in the industry by these two demographic groups.

The morning included a panel of CEOs and Executives from six member firms who affirmed the opportunity the Initiative provides on several fronts, including the obvious expansion of the talent pool of ideas and perspectives that diversity can bring to strengthen business.  In addition, their conversation covered several ways in which leaders can embed this agenda throughout their organizations as well as in their external business dealings with agencies and organizations – setting up specific measures in both cases to hold themselves accountable for dramatic changes in the status quo.  The collaborative’s exchanges of practices among the member firms were also recognized as a potentially effective force in achieving the goals of the Initiative.

A second panel consisted of three members of the Steering Committee who presented action projects in three domains along the pipeline:  Preparation and Community Presence (Outreach); Recruitment and Hiring; and Development and Retention.  Projects being prioritized by the Initiative for the next year are outlined in brief in the power point presentation linked here.  These projects focus on increasing awareness of the industry in local communities, building relevant knowledge and competencies that prepare students for eventual work in the industry, expanding sources of recruitment beyond existing colleges, supporting individual development of African-American and Latino hires within the industry, and building culturally competent environments.  Presentations included specific next steps concerning how member firms and external organizations can partner with the FSP work.

The morning concluded with two examples of best practice in the industry provided by members of the Steering Committee representing two different firms:  1)Morgan Stanley’s recruitment practices that have involved expansion efforts in particular with HBCU Institutions; and 2) Bank of America’s diversity and inclusion practices that have involved particular attention to the distinct perspectives of millennials.  The FSP Initiative anticipates becoming a platform for such continued exchanges across members in the coming year.

Finally, the session also included the release of the 2015 Index, a tool used to track financial services representation in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and the U.S.  The tool is updated annually and provides snapshots of racial and ethnic representation within the financial services industry for the prior year and includes five-year trends concerning the representation gaps.  This tool will continue to be used to measure the Initiative’s progress over time.

The Summit materials are available below:

Event Photos