As chair of PineBridge’s Corporate Responsibility Steering Committee and its Diversity & Inclusion Committee, Sergio is well placed to explain why diversity is such an important initiative at the firm and what kinds of steps it’s taking to identify and achieve needed improvements.
Here he discusses how PineBridge is working to advance these efforts both internally and externally, especially after last summer’s nationwide protests over racial injustice.
How does PineBridge approach D&I considerations, and what are the organization’s primary goals?
We aim to reflect the diversity of our global client base and the communities we serve, and to meet the demands of our clients, which include striving to be an open and inclusive organization capable of delivering positive investment results. But today’s investment landscape is hardly homogeneous. So as a global investment firm, our task is to be equipped with the best talent capable of operating in a culturally fluid and diverse world, working together to identify risk and opportunity from all angles.
Our approach is founded on the belief that each person brings unique strengths to PineBridge and that we all share responsibility for helping ensure an inclusive and welcoming organization. Our goal is to attract, develop, and nurture talented individuals regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, nationality, geographic origin, religion, culture, or any other dimension of diversity. One way we’ve been able to keep advancing on this goal is to define and implement policies that support a diverse and inclusive workforce.
We believe that cultivating a diverse and inclusive corporate culture is central to delivering superior service to clients and to remaining competitive in the industry. Beyond being the right thing to do, it’s simply good business.
What steps has the firm taken to address diversity over the past year?
We’re always looking for areas to improve efficacy, and this includes diversity & inclusion. PineBridge’s D&I Committee was formed to deliver on our mission to create a diverse and inclusive workforce along with a global culture of accountability. As with most business matters, accountability is vital. Within the D&I Committee, the firm has formed three standing subcommittees that help establish key initiatives and uphold accountability. The Hiring and Recruiting subcommittee focuses on recruiting practices, hiring and talent, and best practices. The Onboarding and Networking subcommittee focuses on delivering an inclusive experience for our employees, while reviewing our accountability, onboarding, staffing, and other initiatives meaningful to our employees. Finally, the Performance Measurement and Management subcommittee focuses on D&I measurement data transparency, performance goals, and metrics. These working groups rotate and are staffed by both senior and junior employees.
The firm has made significant investments in this area, including conducting training courses to combat unconscious biases and to encourage diversity, inclusion, and cultural fluidity, in addition to addressing how we incorporate D&I in the recruitment and onboarding of new hires.
Another critical component is to engage with our communities in a variety of ways. We’re keenly focused on supporting youth from diverse backgrounds and believe this is where we can have a strong impact on the future of our society. In fall 2020, we launched a partnership with The Opportunity Network, which seeks to ignite the drive, curiosity, and self-determination of underrepresented students on their paths to and through college and into thriving careers. Our US-based employees participated in a speed networking session with students last November, and we really enjoyed introducing the future workforce to our industry.
We also work actively with internship and educational programs, including New York-based Futures and Options, the UK’s GAIN (Girls Are INvestors) and The Brokerage, and Hong Kong’s Pilot Programme to Enhance Talent Training for the Asset and Wealth Management Sector.
Ongoing partnership with nonprofit Futures and Options to provide paid mentored internships to minority, low-income New York City high school students.
Partnership with social mobility nonprofit The Brokerage to provide work experience through internships to young people from inner-city schools.
Ongoing supporter of the Hong Kong government’s talent training internship program; an intercity initiative to provide undergraduate students exposure to career opportunities in the finance industry.
Partnership forged in 2020 to ignite the drive, curiosity, and agency of underrepresented students on their paths to and through college and into thriving careers.
In 2021, we’ve taken our efforts a step further by introducing a specific goal for staff at the vice president level and above: “To understand, support, and consistently demonstrate behaviors that align with PineBridge’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) practices and principles. Actively work to integrate CSR and D&I principles into our processes and throughout the employee experience.” The CSR and D&I goal description outlines the desired behaviors for evaluation, against which individual employees will be measured as part of their annual performance review. This ensures that employees’ and managers’ efforts are tracked, and that those with the most influence are doing their part to foster this important aspect of responsibility within their day-to-day work and interactions.
We furthered our efforts through employee-run networks, which have been particularly important in helping maintain our inclusive culture during this prolonged pandemic-driven work-from-home period. Our Women’s Network serves as a firmwide global collective championing the movement for women’s empowerment, equity, and inclusion, and it has hosted various events to support this effort, including a co-sponsored Finimize event, “The Possibilities of a She-covery,” in March 2021.
We also recently launched our LGBTQ+ & Allies Network, whose mission is to foster a culture of visibility and equal opportunity across the spectrum of LGBTQ+ identities and allies in the workplace. It strives to position PineBridge as the most welcoming place to work. The network’s goals aim to support LGBTQ+ individuals, allies, and the firm while providing education. The network has hosted a global fundraiser in support of nonprofits that lend essential services to the community. It also held an inaugural event in honor of Pride Month in June 2021, an employee-based panel discussion featuring personal perspectives and experiences along with best practices concerning the importance of using language to help foster an inclusive environment that values diverse backgrounds and communities.
And in recognition of Juneteenth and its recent designation as a federally recognized holiday, we hosted a discussion with Mary Frances Berry to discuss the significance and history of this holiday. Dr. Berry has been involved in advancing civil rights causes for more than 40 years and served as chairperson of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, where she led the charge for equal rights and liberties for all Americans. We were honored to have Dr. Berry, also the first woman of any race to head a major research university as chancellor of the University of Colorado at Boulder, lead our discussion. The event focused on the historical significance of Juneteenth, what lessons from the past can be applied today, and what we can do individually and collectively to further break down barriers to equality.
How is the firm engaging externally to advance these issues?
The civil rights protests of last summer across the US in response to racial injustices propelled PineBridge to take a deeper look into our organization and create an open dialogue about issues of race and equality. We felt this important moment was meaningful to us as a firm and could help us advance our corporate culture. We engaged an external partner in early 2021 to independently host and develop listening tours across the firm, with the goal of gauging the impact on employees, where staffers saw inequities, and the steps they would like to see PineBridge take to address them. We will use the results to learn about our weak spots and hold ourselves accountable to enact change.
In addition, we became a founding signatory of the International Limited Partners Association (ILPA) Diversity in Action initiative and have continued our existing partnerships with the internship and educational programs noted above to help foster a diverse future workforce. We believe the best way to encourage growth and education in our industry is by investing the time to cultivate these relationships.
We’re also proud to have been recognized as one of Pensions & Investments’ 2020 Best Places to Work and by Citywire’s inaugural Gender Diversity Awards.1 These honors are a testament to our supportive culture and focus on fostering inclusivity.
Despite of our progress, we recognize that we and the broader industry have a way to go. As a firm, we’re taking steps to benchmark ourselves by inviting our employees to participate in a diversity survey to help us measure where we are as an organization, while putting goals for future progress into focus.
For more information on PineBridge’s efforts, visit pinebridge.com/about-us/diversity-and-inclusion
1 For more information, access Pensions & Investments and Citywire awards methodology. Third-party rankings and recognition from rating services or publications are no guarantee of future investment success. Working with a highly rated advisor does not ensure that a client or prospective client will experience a higher level of performance or results. These ratings should not be construed as an endorsement of the advisor by any client nor are they representative of any one client’s evaluation