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Why investors cannot afford to remain silent about racism.

On Wednesday 25 March 2021, 1700 1830 GMT, the inaugural Global Investor Strategy and Corporate Governance Forum will bring together an esteemed panel of speakers to focus on advancing race and equity.

Why investors cannot afford to remain silent about racism.

"The business world should not rest on their laurels and must turn purpose into sustainable action. "
Sophie Chandauka

The event hosted by the Black British Business Awards (BBBAwards) and entitled, Levers for Change: Shareholders and Public Companies, will address why investors cannot afford to remain silent about systematic racism in the corporate world. 

The Global Investor Strategy and Corporate Governance Forum is supported by a consortium consisting of [The Investment Association], London First, the 30% Club, the Black British Business Awards, The Network of Networks (TNON) and the 100% Club.

The event comes at a pivotal time when multiple commercial and civic actors have been called to account in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and following global protests against racism and inequality. As a result, there has been a sharper focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues and a growing expectation on companies to declare their organisational approach to, and responsibility for, tackling racism and inequality. However, tackling racism and promoting diversity and inclusion are not merely social welfare and moral issues; evidence shows that diverse asset management teams are a key determinant for financial outperformance. 

New data from the Parker Review (published March 12, 2021) shows progress has been made by FTSE 100 companies on improving the ethnic diversity of their boards, despite the COVID-19 pandemic affecting board recruitment processes. However, as of November 2020, 21 companies that completed the survey still had to meet the December 2021 target, ‘One by 2021’, and three companies did not respond to the Parker Review’s latest survey. 

Plus, the total number of ethnic minority directors holding top board positions remained low. People of colour hold just 12% of the 998 director positions and there are only five ethnic minority chief executives leading FTSE 100 firms, all of whom are men. The 2020 Parker Review found 69% of the FTSE 250 companies and 59% of the FTSE 350 analysed to have no ethnic diversity on their boards. FTSE 250 companies will be surveyed by the end of 2021 and have until The 2020 Parker Review 2024 to appoint at least one ethnic minority director on their boards.

Sophie Chandauka, co-founder of the BBBAwards, and chair of the forum, said: “Following the tragic death of George Floyd, there is a renewed sense of urgency around racial equity investing, and there is increased interest in how investors can address the inequities in their societies via specific investment practices. Although progress has been made by the FTSE 100 to increase the representation of ethnic minority individuals on boards in the UK, there is still a mountain to climb. The business world should not rest on their laurels and must turn purpose into sustainable action. An investor that truly wants to address systemic racism and the corresponding lack of diversity, must do more than simply get their own house in order.”

The event will demonstrate that the focus for progressive institutional investors should be on supporting fairer, more sustainable, and more ethical businesses which intrinsically offer the prospect of stronger long-term returns. Through its panel of esteemed and inspiring speakers, the event will consider how institutional investors have expanded their diversity strategies and will provide insights into how public company boards are navigating requirements relating to activist investors, corporate culture, and societal impact, with an emphasis on issues relating to race equity. It will also highlight several success stories of those driving positive change. 

The panel will consist of: 

  • Sir John Parker, Chairman of Laing O’Rourke and Non-Executive Director of Carnival Corporation
  • Deborah Gilshan, Founder, The 100% Club
  • Arlene Isaacs-Lowe, Global Head of Moody’s Corporation and CSR and President, Moody's Foundation
  • Laura McGee, Founder & CEO, Diversio
  • Clare Payn, Senior Global ESG & Diversity Manager at Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM)

Chandauka concludes: “Racism, inequality and inequity are social risk factors that all companies must proactively address, and there is growing conviction in boardrooms that these issues have become core to brand integrity and investability. Society is reassessing its view of people and institutions who have done terrible things and there is no longer tolerance for intolerance”.

If you are interested in attending the event, please email enquiries@tnongroup.com.


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