August 31, 2020
Dear RIA Members and Colleagues:
The tragic killing of George Floyd marked a tipping point for racial injustice, sparking public outrage and protests that continue to this day as brutality and discrimination persist. We are experiencing a racial injustice reckoning that is prompting new dialogues about the need for education on allyship, antiracism, equity, diversity, and inclusion.
This summer, there was a large spike in Google searches for “how to be an ally” and similar phrases as many non-racialized people stepped up their efforts to educate themselves. After I made a public statement about my own self-education, an RIA member, who is Black, told me that “most Black people are dealing with an open wound right now that never heals.”
In my experience, conversations like this typically did not happen among professional colleagues prior to this year. But 2020 has taught us that these conversations are both necessary and urgent. Communication enables understanding, and understanding is essential for making progress.
Racial inequities exist in all aspects of society, and the business world is no exception. A recent analysis of corporate diversity disclosures under the Canada Business Corporations Act found that visible minorities hold 4.7% of board seats and 7.4% of senior executive positions. However, according to Statistics Canada, visible minorities make up 22.3% of the Canadian population while Indigenous people account for an additional 4.9%. The data clearly show that Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour are vastly underrepresented in corporate leadership.
Following a discussion with our board of directors in July, it became clear that the RIA is uniquely positioned to play a role in promoting education and dialogues about diversity and inclusion – not only in our portfolios, but also within our own institutions.
That is why, this year, we have converted RI Week into D&I Week – a week of dialogues and education for investment professionals to advance diversity and inclusion in their organizations and their portfolios. We are partnering with leading experts and nonprofit organizations to deliver the biggest (virtual) event of the year on diversity & inclusion in Canada’s investment industry. This will run as a series of 10 live webcasts with D&I thought leaders during the week of October 26-30th. Registration will open on September 9th, at which time we will also announce our keynote speakers. To elevate our impact, 20% of revenue from ticket sales will be donated to the Black Opportunity Fund. Details will land in your inbox on September 9th.
In addition, we are developing a Canadian Investor Statement on Diversity and Inclusion – a statement that institutional investors can sign to demonstrate their commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion in their portfolios and within their institutions. On September 10th, we will circulate the statement and invite all institutional investors to become signatories. Investors will have 3 weeks to sign on before the statement is publicized on October 1st.
Furthermore, we are conducting market research to understand Canadian retail investor perspectives on diversity and inclusion in their portfolios, which will provide valuable insights for advisors and fund managers. This is part of our annual RIA Investor Opinion Survey, which will be released in late October.
As I wrote in a recent column, now is a moment for action. I invite your support and participation as we strive to advance diversity and inclusion in Canada’s investment industry. Watch your inbox for major announcements in the days and weeks ahead.
Chief Executive Officer
Responsible Investment Association