The Diversity Project North America

NICSA members enjoyed an update on one of the industry’s fastest-growing initiatives — the Diversity Project North America— during a recent #WebinarWednesday event. 

Shaelyn Otikor, Senior Vice President, Global Strategy, Corporate & Institutional Services at Northern Trust, moderated the event, which also featured forward-thinking representatives from NICSA and Aon

Jylanne Dunne, VP, Diversity Project North America at NICSA, kicked off the program with an overview of the NICSA-sponsored initiative, which was introduced during the General Membership Meeting in October 2018 and inspired by a similar effort launched in the UK in 2016.

“The Diversity Project North America followed the UK project in some important ways,” Dunne said. “We established two levels of membership, founding and participating, with founding members leading both strategically and from an execution standpoint. We’re similar to a board management structure where the participating members are heavily involved in the active communities.”

The Diversity Project North America will be overseen by a CEO Advisory Council comprised of C-suite representatives from each of the member firms, as well as an Executive Steering Group that will lead the implementation of the initiatives championed by ambassadors.

The strategy will be managed via committees and workstreams focused on different dimensions of diversity and inclusion. A dozen success indicators have been put in place that will be reflective of the group’s efficacy in reaching overall goals. These include:

1. Identification and acceptance of measurement metrics and standards.

2. Enhanced recruitment pipelines utilizing anti-unconscious bias practices.

3. Operating procedures with clear accountability for hiring, career pathing, sponsorship, and mentorship.

4. Shared findings with actionable industry feedback.

5. Development and offering of leadership, diversity and inclusion training, and education.

6. Advancement and retention of diverse mid-level and above employees.

The Diversity Project’s new operating committees are already setting plans into motion. For example, Paul Olschwanger, Associate Partner, Strategic Initiatives & Human Capital Development at Aon, said he has been serving on the Executive Steering Committee of the Diversity Project North America as Co-Chair of the Talent Management Initiative.

“As all of the committees had been asked to do, we’ve created a mission statement: ‘To promote investment management opportunities to interested and diverse talent on behalf of the investment industry looking to further establish best practices from a business case for diversity and provide the tools required to effect quantifiable change,’” Olschwanger said. 

“That’s important because our senior leaders are tasked to show tangible results of diversity and inclusion, and it’s critical that we earn their support,” he added.

Dunne said other operating committees are setting up in a similar way. “They are identifying key initiatives and having volunteers focus on one of those initiatives as a subgroup,” she said. “We have over 100 volunteers today currently working on these five committees, and I expect that we’ll continue to grow as more firms are added to our membership.”

Note: Although the observations contained in this work represent the best thoughts of the individuals comprising the NICSA panel, they do not necessarily reflect the views of NICSA or any of its member organizations. Matters addressed in this work may touch upon legal or regulatory matters, however nothing herein is intended to be or should be construed as legal advice. You should contact your own counsel in order to obtain legal advice regarding these or any other matters.

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