What has the coronavirus crisis taught inclusive wealth firms?

Participants in CFA Institute initiative report unexpected benefits and possibly game-changing revelations

What has the coronavirus crisis taught inclusive wealth firms?

While some may still question the value of diversity and inclusion efforts to wealth firms, the fact is that the coronavirus crisis isn’t likely to stop such programs. In fact, firms with such initiatives in place might actually emerge stronger.

That was the overall conclusion of Sarah Maynard and Rebecca Fender of the CFA Institute in a recently published blog post.

Based on a call with participants in the CFA Institute Experimental Partners Program, they said the evidence points to continuing diversity and inclusion efforts, as well as the possibility that an inclusive culture makes organizations better placed to adapt to the COVID-19 crisis.

“At that stage, most either had a split workforce structure — half remote, half in the office, then rotating — or were fully working from home (WFH) with management implications,” Maynard and Fender said.

They reported that firms were apparently adapting well to the technological and infrastructure demands of remote work arrangements, with some firms supporting employees with an extra stipend for any necessary equipment-related expenses.

Many had just migrated to a 100% WFH model, and were still getting to grips with what best practices should be adopted with respect to virtual inclusive leadership. Among these were challenges relating to software to use in team meetings, virtual team socialization, and maintaining employee resource groups (ERGs).

Partners agreed that continuing to engage ERGs is a priority, Maynard and Fender wrote. Not only can they offer early understanding of COVID-19 impacts, but they can also help inform decisions on how to update policies, such as how to better support employees who are also attending to childcare or elder care responsibilities at home. There were other forms of virtual sharing — working moms’ e-lunches, veterans’ group sessions on home workouts, and young professionals groups offering tech tips to colleagues — that pointed to a robust inclusive culture.

“Most Partners see this WFH time as a game changer for flexible work policies,” the two said, noting an increase in innovative thinking as firms reassess contingency plans, reframe policies, and draw up new rules in response to the situation.

While early reactions to practices put in place were reportedly positive, there was concern around how a longer-term disruption would affect typical working cultures. Mental health issues involving isolation, loneliness, and morale were cited by a three-quarters majority of partners.

However, an even stronger majority (91%) agreed that the crisis has fostered a better understanding of personal situations, which “creates opportunities for storytelling to highlight special situations and bring colleagues closer together.”


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