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Carson Group Launches Free Online Diversity Course for Advisors

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What You Need to Know

  • The course is being offered for free to all advisors in the industry.
  • It features actionable steps, checklists, templates and scripts.
  • This is just the latest of several DEI initiatives by the firm since last year.

Carson Group’s latest diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiative is a free online course launched last week and promoted on Twitter that was designed for advisors throughout the industry.

Standout features of the new course, called “Missed Opportunity: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Financial Services Industry,” include videos with Sonya Dreizler and other diversity experts, as well as a downloadable DEI toolbox providing such tools as a checklist and templates for important DEI policies that organizations should have in place, according to Sarah Cain, vice president of coaching and consulting at Carson Group.

“We started working on this last summer,” when there was “a lot of social unrest due to social injustice,” at the same time the pandemic was happening, she told ThinkAdvisor in a phone interview.

“What we saw initially was all these companies — in all industries, not just ours — who came out making statements, saying things on social media, sending emails and then that quickly faded and kind of fell into the background,” she recalled. “I saw that in our industry as well and it really bothered me because we have a huge opportunity to make this a better industry for everyone.”

So she started thinking about “what do we do really well at Carson,” and it is that “we make things actionable for financial advisors,” she noted. “I thought we had an opportunity to help advisors who know we have a problem in the industry, want to do something about it but they’re not exactly sure what they can do.”

Therefore, the company developed the new online course that provides “great information, actionable steps, checklists, templates and scripts so that advisors and other professionals in our industry can make meaningful progress in the diversity and inclusion space,” she explained.

The course was made available to everyone in the industry for “free — no strings attached,” she noted.

Asked why the company decided to do that instead of charging for the course, she told ThinkAdvisor: “We really want to make an impact in the industry and this is not about us. It’s not about getting business for Carson Group. This is something that I really care about [and] that other members of the coach team at Carson care about. So the best way we felt that we could help make an impact is by opening it up and really just making it available and accessible to anyone who is interested.”

So far, the course has been getting “great feedback from advisors” — those who work for Carson and those who don’t — who have used it already, she said.

The company’s DEI initiatives ramped up last year, amid the Black Lives Matter protests, she pointed out.

“We have a lot of work to do obviously” when it comes to diversity, “just like everyone in the industry, and so we participated in a survey … to find out what our stakeholders — that’s what we call our employees — feel about how we’re doing about diversity and inclusion,” she said.

Carson Group also formed the IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Education, Action) Council. Since then, Carson Group has “made changes across the company in how we’ve been doing things to make it a more inclusive, welcoming space,” according to Cain.

Other, more recent Carson Group DEI initiatives have included its backing, along with BlackRock, of the new nonprofit group FinServ Foundation that is working to make the financial services industry more inclusive through the support of mentoring, leadership and internship programs for college students.

Pictured: Sarah Cain,  vice president of coaching and consulting at Carson Group