“To encourage one to seek a career, not just a job, you must show the possibility to progress within the industry,” said LeCount R. Davis Sr., an independent advisor in Potomac, Md. “You must demonstrate how the role you will play will contribute to future success in addition to the possible compensation—in other words, its contribution and impact on society and communities.”

According to the Association of African American Financial Advisors, Davis was the first Black person to earn the CFP designation, back in 1978.

Asked what he thinks should be the top priorities for DEI going forward, Davis said he’d like to see more paid internships for minority candidates. He also advocates for more minority involvement in advertising and company presentations, and in the decision-making about how to improve opportunities. This kind of “face time for ethnic minorities,” he said, will “help eliminate the myth that a diverse workforce would impede and not help corporate success.”

Kate Healy, managing director of the CFP Board’s Center for Financial Planning, explained that her organization is working to expand the diversity of the talent pipeline in part by collaborating with other institutions that champion diversity, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs); Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), which are accredited, degree-granting higher-education institutions with 25% or more Hispanic or Latinx students; and other minority-oriented institutions.

“What we’d like to see is organizations devoting more resources to equity and inclusion,” she said. “Diversity is actually the end result of having talent that feels empowered by being part of the decision-making process.”

Diverse team members must be supported within the organization, she noted, with appropriate mentors and training. Organizations must make efforts to make those team members “feel valued … through pay equity, promotions and opportunities,” she said.

Part of the problem, she continued, is that simply counting the number of senior team members who are women or from communities of color is measuring “lagging indicators.”

Instead, she urges financial firms to focus on “hard-to-measure initiatives,” such as women and minority-employee retention. “Really looking into retention metrics can help you see how inclusive your firm is. Studying the data can show if diverse populations are leaving at higher rates than the rest of your associates,” she said, adding that if you see that happening, “you need to investigate why.”

It’s equally important to examine how well these employees are rewarded for their work and their loyalty. “Are associates treated equitably? Do women consistently score lower on performance ratings, leading to lower raises and bonuses?” she said. Again, if so, why?

Finally, Healy recommended assessing the return on investment from DEI practices. “It’s hard to measure, but consider how a diverse team has helped your firm reach new markets,” she said. “Has your product or service offering changed because of diverse leadership championing changes?”

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