The Alternative Investment Management Association (AIMA) and consulting firm Albourne Partners teamed up to create a unique manager questionnaire for alternative investment managers focused on diversity and inclusion at the firm level.
Officials say the free questionnaire is an important step in increasing transparency around the alternative investment industry’s efforts in embracing diversity. They acknowledge too that the practical aspects of developing best practices in this area is still a work in progress.
The questionnaire is based on a section of the ILPA Due Diligence Questionnaire that was published in 2018 and is also rooted in feed back from Albourne and AIMA membership, as well as input from a number of institutional investors and managers.
“Diversity and inclusion is a fundamental part of LACERA’s investment philosophy and strategy,” said Jonathan Grabel, CIO of Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association (LACERA). LACERA actively assesses current and prospective investment partners on how they effectively access, develop, and retain diverse talent and cultivate inclusive workplaces to achieve the best outcomes, he added as he welcomed Albourne’s and AIMA’s new due diligence efforts.
The questionnaire is currently on AIMA’s website and on Albourne’s manager portal – MoatSpace.
The questionnaire focuses on classifications of women and minority groups within the workforce, including racial/ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ individuals, veterans and persons with disabilities. Inclusion focuses on the practices of equal recognition, respect and merit-based evaluation. The aim is to ensure that underrepresented groups are not only present but are treated with the respect and recognition that they deserve, officials said.
Kate Misic, head of alternative investments at Telstra Super Pty Ltd. said, “our industry has a duty to be prudent stewards of capital. To do nothing about Diversity & Inclusion, we accept running our economies on half power.”
Most managers are at the early stages of thinking about diversity and inclusion, said Tathata Lohachitkul, portfolio analyst working on the D&A initiative at Albourne.
“In striving to drive progress on D&I in the alternatives industry, we at Albourne view our role in this as collectors of D&I information via the questionnaire, validators of policies and ultimately, by incorporating D&I considerations into our due diligence process, serving as a catalyst for managers to reflect and improve upon their D&I policies and practices,” Lohachitkul said.
As for AIMA, officials report huge interest across the industry when it comes to improving the representation of women and minority groups. The new questionnaire, which is designed to be an optional module within the existing suite of AIMA DDQs, aims to promote better diversity and inclusion practices and become a standardised D&I questionnaire.
It builds upon the work begun in November 2019, when AIMA launched The Alternatives, a paper containing 45 practical steps that industry members can take to improve D&I, from how they find new recruits to how best to develop their existing talent.
“We acknowledge that for smaller firms it might be difficult to know where to start,” said AIMA’s Adam Jacobs-Dean, managing director and global head of markets, governance and innovation. “That’s why our paper offers ideas for all sizes of firm, and we have approached the DDQ with the same logic of ensuring that firms of all sizes can make use of it.”