Abernathy MacGregor created its DE&I Council in February 2021, comprised of four co-leads and participants equating to approximately a quarter of the firm. Since then, the Council, with the help of senior leadership, explored areas where potential systemic bias existed in the firm and recommended specific steps leadership could take to promote a more diverse, equitable and inclusive environment in all aspects of our business. The two core workstreams within the DE&I council focus on improving the firm’s culture and the governance practices.
The culture workstream began conversations within the firm on DE&I topics by hosting required training sessions with an outside vendor for all employees, arranging for guest speakers on various inclusion topics and each month recognizing a cultural moment on the calendar and educating the firm about it. We also dramatically expanded the number of floating holidays available to all employees to be more inclusive of different cultures and beliefs. The governance workstream reviewed, and where necessary, proposed updating firm policies and procedures to ensure they are bias free and foster diversity and inclusion. Among the first focus areas: the employee manual and the entry-level hiring process.
The firm is entering year two of its DE&I council, with plans to build upon the foundation from 2021. The culture workstream plans to continue to find meaningful ways to celebrate holidays and important moments across a wide range of cultures, invite a diverse slate of speakers to address the firm and provide a next-level set of trainings. The governance workstream will continue to evaluate the remaining policies and procedures and recommend changes.
Abernathy MacGregor recently launched a firmwide, optional, formal mentor programme. Its goal is to create a programme that facilitates learning and growth for the mentor and mentee, provides an opportunity to create deeper relationships, and allows for conversations about difficult issues or topics. Mentees identified what they hope to learn from the programme and were then matched with mentors who have that expertise/strength using an algorithm that sought to remove bias and match people based on interests or skills. Key attributes of the programme include using an outside vendor to help with the matching and training tools, providing training and listening sessions, and viewing the programme as a pilot with lots of room to learn.
Over 55% of employees are participating in the programme, including both account-facing client service professionals of all levels and operations professionals. People are enjoying building new relationships, strengthening skills, and having meaningful conversations. This has helped to build relationships while teams remain virtual.