Kresge Foundation to invest one quarter of US assets in diverse-owned firms


Alliance magazine


The Kresge Foundation announced 25 per cent of its US assets under management will be invested in female and diverse-owned firms. The pledge was unveiled at The Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE) annual conference. Kresge is the first private foundation signatory to ABFE’s ‘Diversity in Foundation Asset Management Pledge,’ a challenge to encourage philanthropic and institutional endowments to take concrete steps to expand gender and racial diversity among their asset managers.

‘This is about equity. It’s about accountability. And it’s about better economic outcomes,’ Kresge Vice President and Chief Investment Officer Robert J. Manilla said. ‘We believe that diversity of thought, background and beliefs leads to better investment decisions and returns, so our efforts to diversify our investment managers is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart way to work.’

Firms with diverse teams represent just 1.1 percent of the financial industry’s $71 trillion of assets under management, according to a 2016 report from Bella Research Group and the Knight Foundation. In advance of its upcoming 50th anniversary, ABFE has developed the ‘Diversity in Foundation Asset Management Pledge’ with the goal of securing pledges from 50 foundations by the end of 2021 to place up to 25 per cent of their assets under management with women and minority-owned firms.

‘The reluctance to face the finance industry’s demographic has stifled its’ growth and impact’, said ABFE President and CEO Susan Taylor Batten. She stated values of unity, organizing and the pooling of resources are central to the organization’s mission, and is what drove ABFE to challenge the philanthropic sector. ‘Today Kresge is taking important steps to not only look inward, but to serve as a model for other institutions that manage large endowments,’ Batten said.

‘Expanding equity and opportunity is the essence of The Kresge Foundation’s mission,’ said Kresge President & CEO Rip Rapson. ‘By committing to the ABFE pledge, we hope to signal to the philanthropic sector that the elevation of diversity, equity, and inclusion cannot be walled off within philanthropy’s programmatic activities but must instead infuse every aspect of our operations. The health of Kresge’s endowment is no exception, and we will strengthen it by hiring, sourcing and partnering with a more diverse selection of asset managers.’

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