Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Dedicated to DEI and pivoting when needed
We made meaningful progress in 2021 on our approach to DEI, which falls under the category of Human Capital Management in our Materiality Map. We released our formal internal DEI strategy in March 2021, and the nine months that followed were spent advancing our efforts. The strategy is our roadmap with goals spanning the topics of talent acquisition, internships, compensation, HR policies, professional development, DEI education, inclusion, vendors, and reporting.
While we’ve seen an uptick in requests for DEI information, most of the encouragement for progress has been from our employees. Because Breckinridge is a B Corp, employees help to hold the firm accountable for balancing purpose with profit and driving positive internal change to benefit people and the planet.
We focused much of our energy in 2021 on DEI education. We felt that in order to work towards a common goal of a more diverse, equitable and inclusive Breckinridge, we needed to speak the same language and get comfortable having conversations on previously “taboo” topics with colleagues.
We hosted a Social Identities workshop for all staff, followed by a Behavioral and Organizational Change workshop for managers and leadership, both facilitated by our partners at YW Boston. We also introduced annual Respect in the Workplace (harassment prevention) training for both of our office locations.
We developed a series of DEI Deep Dives, facilitated by our director, Corporate Sustainability. During our deep dives, groups of employees review, reflect on, and discuss content provided for specific DEI- relevant topics. In 2021, we introduced conversations around race and mass incarceration and LGBTQ+ experiences. We have seen 40 percent to 50 percent participation in these sessions, including leadership, all with lively conversation and positive feedback.
Similarly, spanning DEI education and inclusion, several employees requested that we start using pronouns in our e-mail signatures and elsewhere. To understand the subject more deeply and to guide our approach, we invited Greater Boston PFLAG to host a session on pronouns, gender identity, and LGBTQ+ allyship, and followed up with detailed information and instructions for those who wished to use pronouns moving forward.
From a quantitative aspect, we find DEI hiring goals in our policy to be the most challenging to meet, and the most visible aspects of progress both to internal and external parties. We spent the majority of 2021 looking to our network of recruiters to diversify the candidates they identify.
We spoke with several organizations serving underrepresented groups but were missing the mark in terms of alignment. At the end of 2021, we determined we needed to change course, so we're currently working to onboard a third-party software that will broaden our reach to diverse candidates.
We realize our reach may not be the only issue. There will always be inherent bias in interview processes, but we work to find solutions to limit it. This software will provide us the ability to perform blind resume reviews and rank candidates with skills-matching technology. We are also testing adjustments to our job posting language to include best practices in removing gender-coded language, additional information on our commitment to DEI and our inclusive benefits. Performance indicators on the success of these initiatives will be forthcoming.
The challenges we’ve faced in hiring have been offset by the successes we’ve seen in our internship program. We continue our partnership with Girls Who Invest—a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the number of women in portfolio management and executive leadership in the asset management industry—hosting two interns during the summer of 2021.
We began a dialogue with Margarita Muniz Academy, an innovation school in the Boston Public Schools system, and the district’s first dual language high school focused on bilingual students and English Language Learners. We placed our first intern from the partnership who was an alumnus of the school. In 2022, we are initiating our partnership with Northeastern University Cooperative Education program, with three interns slated to join us for the first half of the year. We will also have an intern in 2022 from the College for Social Innovation’s Semester in the City program, a fully-credited fellowship program that gives undergraduate students the opportunity to spend a semester learning with mission-driven businesses.
We formalized a partnership in 2021 with UNCF Lighted Pathways Initiative, a program that provides scholarships and internships to African American undergraduate students interested in the investment management industry. We will be hosting our first intern in the summer of 2022. Our hope for these partnerships is that we provide meaningful experiences for our interns and over time develop a broader network of diverse and motivated young talent to connect with for future hiring needs.
We completed our first compensation study in late 2020 to help address wage gaps for all roles, but particularly for women and people of color. The study identified a few minor discrepancies with comparable market compensation but no gender or racial disparity. We addressed those discrepancies with assistance from our third party consultant Compensation & HR Group. Moving forward, our plan is to conduct periodic compensation studies to help us forward our commitment to equitable pay.
Consistent with our commitment to ensuring equitable pay, we signed the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) in April 2021, and while some of our practices already met the goals, we intend to find additional ways to align with the principles. Just as our status as a B Corp challenges us to make progress through the B Impact Assessment, we believe the WEPs are useful to continue work towards a more equitable workplace for women.
Women’s Empowerment Principles
The Women’s Empowerment Principles are a set of Principles offering guidance to business on how to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace, marketplace and community. Established by UN Global Compact and UN Women, the WEPs are informed by international labour and human rights standards and grounded in the recognition that businesses have a stake in, and a responsibility for, gender equality and women’s empowerment.
We know that we can educate and diversify our workforce, but without digging into our culture, we may unintentionally deter diverse candidates or lose them once they’re on board. An inclusive culture is imperative to attract and retain diverse talent, but we can’t assume that we’re inclusive without hearing from our employees. We worked in 2021 to develop a plan to review our culture of inclusion with partner Language & Culture Worldwide (LCW). With LCW's help, we crafted and analyzed an employee survey covering various aspects of inclusion. Our next steps in 2022 are to gather a working group of employee volunteers to review the data and tackle some of the areas of opportunity outlined by LCW. That group will receive additional education, including an Intercultural Development Inventory® which will help the individuals approach issues from a new cultural awareness.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “For all of us today, the battle is in our hands. The road ahead is not altogether a smooth one. There are no broad highways to lead us easily and inevitably to quick solutions. We must keep going.” While we’ve been working hard on our DEI initiatives, we know we have a long road ahead. Many of the issues in this space are decades—even centuries—old and are deep-rooted in the systems that perpetuate them. We know there will not be change overnight, but persistence is key, and we will continue to show up each day looking to make incremental steps in the right direction.
DIVERSITY BREAKDOWN OF BRECKINRIDGE EMPLOYEES AS OF 12/31/21
Below is a breakdown of Breckinridge employees by gender, age and ethnicity. Ethnicity was collected by a voluntary self-identifying survey administered by our director, Human Resources.