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A new report from the TIAA Institute examined diversity in the endowment management industry, but data collection challenges allowed for analysis of just 16 wealthy colleges’ asset managers out of 50 surveyed. Key findings include:

•Of the 16 colleges that provided data (32%), 9 (56%) reported having at least one woman and 6 (38%) reported at least one leader of color on their endowment management teams. However, data lacked details on representation and roles.

•Most diversity efforts focused on gender rather than race, ethnicity, or other characteristics. And while some progress has been made, women remain underrepresented overall relative to their share of college graduates and professionals.

•Limited data hampered analysis of pay gaps, access to career opportunities, and other metrics that could highlight ongoing inequities faced by underrepresented groups. More transparent reporting is needed.

•Challenges collecting information suggest a “lack of commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion” in endowment management practices and metrics. Greater prioritization of data collection and monitoring is required to drive real change.

•Chief investment officers and trustees who want to increase diversity may need to “expand hiring networks, create diversity committees, provide unconscious bias training, and set diversity goals” which often requires dedicated resources and accountability.

•Broader industry shifts are also needed regarding approaches to talent recruitment, career growth, and key performance indicators to build a more just and equitable field. Individual institutions cannot address systemic issues alone.

The report calls on colleges and their investment partners to improve data transparency, set concrete diversity goals, provide necessary resources and support, and work together towards sustainable change. Researchers also recommend diversity, inclusion, and equity become more central to investment decision-making and key criteria in manager evaluation and selection.

With limited data available, the real representation and experiences of underrepresented groups in endowment management remain unclear. More research, open conversations, and collective action are urgently needed to truly transform a field still struggling with diversity and inclusion despite important So while the TIAA report highlights important issues, much work remains to remedy pervasive inequities, ensure diversity is woven into strategies and daily work—not just initiatives—and build an industry reflective of pluralistic ideals. Monitoring of progress at additional colleges could yield further insights to inform effective efforts to diversify talent, strengthen equality, and optimize benefit for students, institutions, and society. Though challenges are substantial, opportunity exists to make a difference through dedicated efforts and strategic changes. With diversity, equity, and inclusion as guiding lights, higher education can progress closer to the promise of shared purpose and just outcomes for all.

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