What You Need to Know
- Research shows that for firms that want to be innovative and transformative, diversity, equity and inclusion is mission critical.
- Firms need to build an accommodative, equitable work environment where people feel like they can have both a seat and a voice at the table.
- Diversity, equity and inclusion must be prioritized as a strategic lever.
Activist and author Verna Myers defines “diversity” as “being invited to the party” and “inclusion” as “being pulled onto the dance floor.”
This analogy often comes to mind in my work as chief diversity and inclusion officer at Commonwealth Financial Network. I also expand on it by adding “belonging” as “having a say in the choice of music played.”
These characterizations underpinned our 2021 Summit for Women Advisors, held virtually on June 23 and 24. The keystone event of our Women of Commonwealth initiative, the conference is aimed at promoting growth, influencing change and igniting the advancement of women in an evolving field.
This year’s event centered on the overarching ideas of community and inclusion. In keeping with these themes, we offered two sessions that sparked open dialogue around the topics of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).
Guest speakers from Eaton Vance/Calvert joined us in a discussion on why DEI is important to corporate strength and driving change, while Commonwealth’s executive leadership delved into how to lead with inclusion to create a sense of belonging, which touched on steps Commonwealth is taking to ingrain DEI into our corporate DNA.
A few key takeaways emerged from these conversations:
1. DEI starts at home.
Research shows that for firms that want to be innovative and transformative, DEI is mission critical.
Our firm has a history of being well-intentioned. But to create and sustain an environment where everyone feels fully heard and fairly treated, we need to evolve from being well-intentioned to intentional by investing in infrastructure that’s sustainable.
At a high level, we’re looking at behaviors that yield equitable benefits for our staff, advisors and partners, as well as the communities we serve, and we’re taking action to integrate inclusive practices holistically.
2. We need to invest in women.
Many female advisors have told us that this financial career path is well-suited for women. Yet the truth is, women are still heavily underrepresented in the field, making up roughly 18% of the industry’s advisors.