Cooperative Economics | "Impact-First" Investing | Transformative Leadership

Can DEI lead to systems change at Foundations?

Once in a while you find a report that validates a bunch of your hunches.

In this case, a group of foundations in the Northwest U.S. have come together to wrestle seriously with what racial equity means for their investment committees (& the social mission actualization of their asset stewardship).

What emerges is a report that focuses on:

  • the power (and responsibility) that investment committees have,
  • the special position that foundations are in to wrestle with these social, racial, economic justice issues — and to transcend modern portfolio theory,
  • how DEI is just the starting point to talk about power and systems change,
  • how and why we need a new notion of Fiduciary Duty — they call it “version 2.0”
  • how we’re on a journey — and we need to go on this journey with our financial advisors. (This point resonated deeply with me given how much responsibility we usually delegate to our advisors and the disconnect that often develops between the conscience / values / mission / sense of purpose of a foundation — and the disconnect with how financial services / investment advisory firms are structured to work — in particular when thinking about compensation, performance evaluation (meeting target financial returns), and the incentives this creates.)
  • do you integrate racial, gender and social equity into your whole portfolio? Or just a carve-out? And the trade-offs of each approach.
  • the importance of “encounter”; how we need to “go to each other’s meetings”; investment committee members need to visit with grantees in neighborhoods and then remember those human interactions when making investment decisions.

So grateful to have come across this report.

I’ve provided screenshots of a few of the key ideas below, and then a link to the full report.

Mindful Fiduciaries: Ten Ideas Emerging from the Work of Foundation Investment Committees on Racial, Gender, and Social Equity

by Rosalie Sheehy Cates, Philanthropy Northwest, The Giving Practice

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: