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10 Tips for Building Your Firm’s DEI Strategy

May 25, 2023

Beginning in 2019, Corsair Capital’s leadership developed an action-oriented, intentional diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy that has continued to evolve and mature since that time.

Recently, Amy M. Knapp, partner, COO, and CFO, of Corsair Capital, and Peyun Kok, director in ACA Group’s ESG Advisory Services group, sat down with Nancy Hancock, IAA vice president of business practices, to discuss Corsair’s DEI journey and share practical, industry-relevant advice and best practices for firms seeking to set and advance DEI objectives.

“For us, DEI is something that has always been near and dear to our hearts…Corsair is a diverse-owned and diverse-led firm,” said Knapp. And though the firm was already putting a focus on DEI strategies in hiring and promoting, Knapp explained that, among other factors, the “drive from younger employees to ensure people felt there was a focus on DEI” was a “welcome nudge” to put more of a specific framework around the firm’s policy and strategy.

Kok noted that it’s important to understand that there’s no one-size-fits all or cookie-cutter solution to promoting DEI within a firm – each firm will have different needs and capacity. However, Kok and Knapp discussed several tips that can help firms of all sizes build their DEI strategy.

Set a Baseline

  1. Collect as much data as possible to determine a baseline, foster substantive conversations, and set goals for and track progress. Data collected should include self-reported demographics and information on how employees experience the work environment as it relates to policies, recruiting and retention, culture, and benefits.
  2. Consider bringing in a neutral third-party for data collection, as employees are more likely to give thoughtful responses if they are confidential, especially in smaller firms where it may be easier to align responses with employees.

Create Buy-In

  1. Focus on the research, which shows that focusing on DEI is beneficial to firms.
  2. Train staff on DEI topics, such as vocabulary, unconscious bias, inclusive leadership, and cultural competency.
  3. Clearly communicate your objectives with your staff and stakeholders regarding how you’re going to chart a path forward.

Implement the Strategy

  1. Allocate resources to pipeline development, potentially by partnering with organizations who specialize in this work, like SEO and TOIGO.
  2. Insist on diverse candidate pools and ensure your interview panel is diverse.
  3. Develop an interview scorecard so that each interviewer is measuring candidates in the same way to limit biases that may creep in.

Track Progress and Adjust

  1. Create a plan for monitoring progress ­­– with a focus on trying to collect the same data for easy comparison – and making strategy adjustments going forward.
  2. Consider suggestions from staff and stakeholders for new opportunities or initiatives.

IAA Members and Associate Members can watch the full webinar recording on our website.

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