Yale’s Swensen Delivers Message to Money Managers on Diversity

Yale’s Swensen Delivers Message to Money Managers on Diversity

David Swensen, veteran investment chief of Yale University’s $31.2 billion endowment, has a clear message for the firms that manage the school’s money: Hire more women and minorities, or you could lose the university’s backing. This according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal

Last month, the article reports, Swensen told the firms that manage Yale’s money that they would be “measured on their progress increasing the diversity of their investment staffs” and that the Yale Investments Office would be improving its team’s composition as well.

The push comes as the national discussion on race escalates on boards and in companies across the country, the article says, adding that a study commissioned last year by the Knight Foundation found that women- and minority-owned firmed held less than 1% of assets managed by mutual funds, hedge funds, private-equity funds and real-estate funds in 2017.

In an October letter to money managers, Swensen wrote, “Our goal is a level of diversity in investment-management firms that reflects the diversity in the world in which we live. Genuine diversity remains elusive, giving investors like Yale and your firm an opportunity to drive change.”

The article reports that Yale intends to ask its managers for data on their diversity efforts on an annual basis. Though the university is not mandating specific targets, Swensen noted that it would pull its money from firms that show little progress over time.

The Yale Investments office will also report on the progress of its diversity efforts, Swensen said. The article notes that while the number of his female proteges that have “gone on to run the endowments of schools or foundations outnumbers that of their male counterparts nine to five, Mr. Swensen said Blacks and Latinos should be better represented on Yale’s investment team.”