City Hive is launching ACT, what is believed will be the first-ever diversity and inclusion kitemark, to create a comparable industry standard for firms in the investment management industry.
With DiversityQ’s sister publication ESG Clarity as the media partner, the Action, Culture and Transparency (ACT) kitemark will enable companies to truly assess their culture and catalyse on improvements within their organisation, the industry and the companies they invest in.
The ACT kitemark has been developed by City Hive chief executive Bev Shah and chief strategist Mandy Kirby. It establishes an industry agreement encompassing six pillars, which are core to City Hive’s mission to implement, measure and catalyse change across the industry, both internally and externally.
The pillars are:
Shah pointed out the first three pillars are focused on external or industry progress, while the last three are inward-looking to covert both policy and individual responsibility. Each pillar has a c-level responsibility for oversight across business functions, recommended guidance areas and questions.
City Hive recently wrote to fund group CEOs urging them to implement for “impactful changes” in their approach to diversity. The open letter to over 100 fund group leaders highlighted although the support for inclusion campaigns, such as #IAM and #BlackLivesMatter, has been encouraging, there is still so much more work to be done.
“While there has been progress in recent years by firms engaging with and holding the companies they invest in accountable on diversity, inclusion, equality and culture, there has been no industry standard or measurable way to address these issues across the investment management industry,” Shah said.
“The ACT kitemark establishes an industry agreement regarding the need for a collective vision of change. We, as an industry, must ensure that we are beyond reproach by meeting the same improved and inclusive culture standards that we hold the companies we invest in to.
“Moreover, the ACT kitemark establishes diversity and inclusion as a business objective from the top down and will help bring an end to the greenwashing of these imperative issues that is currently taking place by firms”.
The chief executive said her background as a fund selector, where she carried out qualitative and quantitative due diligence analysis to assess external managers, investment teams, investment processes and firms, helped with the development of the kitemark. In contrast, Kirby’s experience at the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), where she was director of reporting assessment and accountability responsible for disclosure and collaboration across the industry, also contributed to the final ACT standards.
Shah said the industry needs the ACT kitemark to hold itself accountable for further progress in diversity and inclusion, and improving corporate culture.
“Creating greater diversity should be a priority and business objective for organisations to help them meet their sustainability responsibilities. Industry-wide codes and charters do not work; they are aspirational but do not set benchmarks.
“Companies need to be held accountable, but without measurable results and an industry-standard, there is no way to demonstrate genuine, impactful change internally or externally. The ACT kitemark is a harbinger of change for the industry to create greater diversity, equality and inclusion. We must be the change that we want to see, and we are demanding it from the industry. Change is happening now.”
Kirby added: “Corporate culture is the heart and soul of every company. Superficial materials such as company websites, brochures, marketing materials and company accounts are often the only way for asset owners and investors to assess corporate culture, diversity and inclusion – these are woefully inadequate. We need to future-proof the investment management industry, and that means we need to truly assess, measure and improve corporate culture across the industry. This cannot be done by using ESG frameworks, rankings and marks as a proxy to measure corporate culture and diversity and inclusion.”