Seeking Gender and Racial Equity

November 15, 2022 – The past two years have seen significant progress in raising awareness and opening a national dialogue around racism and diversity, equity, and inclusion. In a recent study, executive recruitment firm Jensen Partners sought to better understand where DEI stands within the search industry, tracking 207 black front office distribution professional hires from Jan. 1, 2019 to June 2022. The findings offered both a sense of hope combined with sound guidance for moving forward. “While there has been progressing in diverse hires, there remains a long way to go to achieve true gender and racial equity in the workspace for women and people of color,” said Sasha Jensen, the firm’s founder and CEO. “And in working towards this goal, it is crucial to recognize that racial and gender discrimination and inequity are the context within which much economic activity exists.”

“Focusing only on percentages of women or minorities in the workforce only captures a portion of the DEI landscape and fails at addressing the root causes of the issue at hand,” said Ms. Jensen. “Therefore, firms must think broadly about the impacts of systemic racism and sexism on women and communities of color and ensure that their DEI conversations focus on questions around racial and gender justice.

In its analysis, Jensen Partners looked at data of front office distribution professionals before and after May 25, 2020, the day George Floyd was murdered, to measure progress from the outcries of racial justice. “We found that there has been notable progress in the overall number of black front office distribution professional hires in terms of year over year hiring activity,” said Ms. Jensen.

More Action Needed
More specifically, the study found that between 2019 and 2020, black distribution professional hires increased by 50 percent (36 in 2019 vs. 54 in 2020), and black distribution male hires rose by 76 percent (21 in 2019 vs. 37 in 2020). On the other hand, black distribution female hires only saw a 13 percent increase (15 in 2019 vs. 17 in 2020).

Between 2020 and 2021, however, Jensen Partners noted a reverse trend, with a 76 percent increase (30 hires in 2021) in black distribution female hires compared to a 38 percent increase (51 hires in 2021) in black distribution male hires.

Said Ms. Jensen: “While this progress is commendable and validates numerous firms’ commitments to improving DEI by signing on to industry initiatives, such as the Institutional Limited Partners Association’s (ILPA)
Diversity in Action initiative and, most recently, the CFA Institute’s diversity, equity, and inclusion code, our analysis suggests that more action is needed to deliver on these commitments truly.”

A Need to Nurture DEI
“However, an increased number of black female front office distribution professionals are being promoted to senior positions,” said the study. “Although we noted that black male distribution professionals are more likely to hold senior positions, our data shows that the number of black female distribution professionals hired into senior roles has increased over the years.”

For instance, the hiring of black distribution females into senior positions increased from six hires in 2020 to 10 in 2021, suggesting an upsurge of 67 percent. When analyzing black front office distribution professional hires between 2019 and June 2022, the search firm also looked at Caucasian front office distribution professional hires during the same period. Of the 5,598 Caucasian and black professional hires, the majority (5,391, or 96 percent) were Caucasian professionals, whereas only the remaining four percent (or 207) were black professionals.

Gender Disparity
The study found that overall, black front office distribution professionals were less likely to hold a senior seat when compared to their Caucasian counterparts. Of the 207 black front office distribution professionals, only 90 (or two percent) held senior positions, whereas this number was 49 percent (or 2,736
professionals) for their Caucasian peers.

Furthermore, of the 90 senior positions black front office distribution professionals held, only 26 (or 13 percent) belonged to female professionals, while this number was 16 percent (or 889 professionals) for their Caucasian counterparts. Similarly, this number was 31 percent (or 64) for black male professionals, compared to 34 percent (or 1,809) for Caucasian male professionals. “These findings suggest that in both racial groups, women are less likely to hold senior positions than men,” said Jensen Partners.

Since 2019, there has never been a gender parity in firms’ hiring activities, with women consistently representing less than 50 percent of all hires, said the report. “Another area of concern is gender balance and the representation of women overall,” said Jensen Partners. “According to our data, front office distribution women represented 41 percent of all hires in 2019, which decreased to 35 percent in 2020. In 2021, there was an uptick of 17 percent, with women representing nearly 40 percent of all hires, and so far, in 2022, this number has only nudged up one percent.”

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