Q&A Black Women in Asset Management: ‘You belong’

Adebanke Adeyemo, director of Black Women in Asset Management, on how the sector’s employers can ensure talented Black women in their organisations thrive and reach the top.

Adebanke Adeyemo
Adebanke Adeyemo

Do the various pledges that companies are now issuing on diversity, equity and inclusion reflect what’s being done in practice?

We’ve seen definitive interest and laudable action, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Forbes posted an article in May that discussed how over $50 billion had been pledged by US corporations to invest in Black communities.

The hope is that as the funds continue to be deployed, that they will be deployed to meaningfully address the issues of inequality caused by racism and implicit bias, and that they will change work environments that make it difficult for Black women to thrive.

How can asset managers create a culture that supports the professional development of Black women in private markets and ensures they are better represented in senior positions in the future?  

By investing in their training and development, championing them in the industry, promoting them and sponsoring organisations that are beneficial to them. Employers should commit to giving the Black women who work with them access to complex high-profile work with adequate support, opportunities to sit on panels and attend conferences, and dedicated supported access to relevant clients or stakeholders.

Members of our organisation have spoken about being relegated to support roles where they are asked to be part of pitches to clients or to deliver work products, but excluded from the deal teams that are client-facing. This can be detrimental to their career goals.

A McKinsey study, Delivering through Diversity, which was published in 2018, found a correlation between profitability and cultural and ethnic diversity. Black and minority ethnic people made up 22 percent of all university graduates, yet among the UK companies in the study only 8 percent of all executive roles were held by members of those groups.

What can Black women, who are already in asset management, do to smooth the way for younger generations?

As Black women continue to gain traction in the asset management industry, they have continued to look back and create pathways and roadmaps for younger generations.

BWAM has student members and encourages networking and organic mentorship relationships, and has participated in interview workshops and advocates for organisations in the industry to work harder to diversify their talent pool and the pathways to employment.

We also continue to work with our members on workshops and events that empower women to maximise their impact and potential in our industry.

And finally, what one piece of advice would you give to young Black women entering the industry?

Black women belong in the industry and will excel and thrive if given an equitable opportunity to do so. We want all Black women to feel welcome and supported in the industry and to know that success is within reach.

Our advice to newcomers in the industry is to work hard – you have what it takes. Network, including by joining our organisation. And do not let one bad encounter or environment derail your progress. You belong.