An initiative focused on increasing diversity within the asset management industry launched with the backing of 14 leading financial services firms.

Called The Diversity Project, the new initiative is intended to accelerate progress toward a more inclusive culture across all demographics including gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age and disability. The Diversity Project will also focus on enhancing the financial services industry brand within higher education and developing and sharing leading practices across member firms.

NICSA, a nonprofit trade association for the global asset management industry, is the lead sponsor of the new initiative. NICSA is introducing the initiative today at its general membership meeting.

According to Jim Fitzpatrick, president and CEO of NICSA, “increased diversity will ensure a more sustainable industry long-term. We are proud to sponsor the Diversity Project and champion the benefits of diversity within our member firms and across the financial services industry.”

NICSA has 168 member firms, which include asset managers, custodians, audit firms, fund accountants, broker-dealers, technology providers, consulting firms and transfer agents.

Modeled after a successful program in the U.K., the North American iteration of The Diversity Project looks to accelerate current recruitment, development and advancement programs at large and small companies. According to NICSA, this is one of the first diversity initiatives in the U.S. focused on industry collaboration as opposed to firm-level campaigns.

The 14 founding charter members of the North American Diversity Project include:

  • Broadridge
  • CFA Institute
  • Capital Group
  • Citi
  • Columbia Threadneedle Investments
  • Deloitte
  • Eaton Vance
  • Fidelity Investments
  • JPMorgan
  • MFS Investment Management
  • Northern Trust
  • Sionna Investment Mangers
  • Starpoint Solutions, a YOH Company
  • State Street Global Advisors

These founding members will appoint a C-Suite Advisory Council, which will be comprised of CEOs or C-suite representatives from each of the founding member firms, to provide strategic leadership and direction. An Executive Steering Group will also be formed to drive execution of the initiatives championed by ambassadors from the member firms.

Collaborative decision-making will guide programs aimed at sharing best practice solutions to recruit, advance and retain diverse talent.

Dan Houlihan, chairman of the NICSA board of directors and head of Northern Trust Asset Servicing, stressed the benefits of diversity in a statement.

“Diversity brings different perspectives, drives innovation and sparks creativity,” Houlihan said in a statement. “We have seen the benefits of inclusion and it is time for the asset management industry to take the lead.”

The Diversity Project is currently welcoming additional interested firms that have not yet committed to the project.

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