IR Magazine recently hosted an online forum on Equality in IR. It was a productive discussion about trends and best practices in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in the IR world and we wanted to share the most useful takeaways from the forum and some of our own thoughts and additional research.
Why focus on DEI?
Besides it being the obvious right thing to do, according to the IR Magazine event panelists, there are numerous benefits to an organization being more diverse. For example, more diverse management is less likely to have blind spots. Additionally, some investors now have diversity requirements that need to be fulfilled to even consider investment.
Building a DEI plan
University of California, Berkeley has a helpful checklist to get you thinking about potential weak spots in your organization and form a plan. For example, you could have a very gender diverse team, but did everybody attend the same small group of universities?
So what can we do?
IR professionals are often preaching to their board or in the case of an agency, their clients, on the importance of equality on the board, so it’s key that IR professionals also follow these messages. There were lots of suggestions made by the panelists and these are some of our top picks:
- Set a goal and set out the steps you need to take to reach your goal. For many it is a case of “progress not perfection”.
- Use rotational programs to give employees exposure to IR (as well as other parts of the business they may not have thought about working in previously).
- It takes intentionality – you have to think about it and get people ready for the roles they could move into.
- There has to be commitment from the highest level of management (CEO), so work with your CEO to give them the tools they need to understand the importance and to deliver the message both internally and externally. This also means that someone is held accountable and we see change. This is key to changing the way IR teams look in both the short and long term.
- Lots of sell side analysts are moving to IR and a large percentage of sell side analysts are white males. Trends like this can start to impact the make up of IR teams.
One of the sessions at the forum included a discussion with a CEO (Stan Bergman of Henry Schein) who is striving for a diverse and inclusive workforce and spoke passionately of his company’s internal efforts, explaining what he and his company has done and is doing to improve the situation. Many of these are ideas that can be implemented on a smaller scale by IR teams.
- As mentioned above, he acknowledged that direction needs to come from the top and he is leading by example.
- He is working closely with the board and management to advance diversity. This includes stipulating that bonuses for management contain a diversity component.
- Their nominations and governance committee are focused on creating a diverse board. They aim to have their board reflective of society in general.
- They facilitate the balance between work and family/work life balance.
- They make hiring managers aware of unconscious bias.
- They have a women’s leadership network.
- They include D&I questions in their annual feedback survey to hold themselves accountable.
As always, Miranda IR and Miranda ESG are here to help with any questions you may have on improving and maintaining a balanced IR team.
Contacts at Miranda Partners