By Carol Jeppesen (@CarolJeppesen), Head of the US, PRI
2020 has been an extraordinary year in many ways, both at home and around the world.
From the unprecedented global health crisis and economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which is disproportionately impacting people of color, to massive protests following a flood of racially-motivated violence in the US, pervasive social issues like systemic racism, uneven access to health care and economic inequality have been brought into the spotlight once again.
Unfortunately, these issues are not at all new in the US; in fact, many of them tie to the very origins of our country and are deeply embedded into our society. This must change.
Over the past several months, we have seen individuals stepping up in support of racial justice and social equity by taking to the streets, as acts of protest and civil disobedience have erupted in cities around the world.
We have seen big corporates reacting, with statements of solidarity and philanthropic commitments advertised on social media and during expensive prime-time television spots (all while under substantial pressure to cut costs through layoffs). But how can these companies be held accountable in their publicized efforts to diversify their workforces and create anti-racist, inclusive work environments? For many of us, there is a valid concern that minorities may only be used within companies for optics as “diversity showcases,” while companies continue to uphold exclusionary policies that lead to unequal pay and a lack of meaningful representation. How might we examine this moving forward?
And what role can and should institutional investors play here?
What are their obligations to the communities in which their beneficiaries live and work and how do these socio-economic issues create material financial risk for their investment portfolios over the long-term?
In an effort to address these questions, my team and I are working on a series of interview-style blogs with prominent investors from across the US. These blogs are designed to elevate the investor voice, showcase diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and bring insight into what the most effective levers are for investors to drive positive change.
This blog is written by PRI staff members and guest contributors. Our goal is to contribute to the broader debate around topical issues and to help showcase some of our research and other work that we undertake in support of our signatories.
Please note that although you can expect to find some posts here that broadly accord with the PRI’s official views, the blog authors write in their individual capacity and there is no “house view”. Nor do the views and opinions expressed on this blog constitute financial or other professional advice.
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