Diversity is Good for Business
“Using diverse investment firms is not only about creating growth and opportunity in our communities, but it’s integral to increasing our investment returns.”
-Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs
The Illinois Treasurer believes that our government should mirror the diversity in our state. And beyond that, diversity is good for business. Research demonstrates that diverse-owned companies are often well-situated to ascertain capital inefficiencies in the market, and as such, many are primed to outperform their peers. That’s why we’re focused on providing more opportunities to qualified Minority, Women, Veteran, and Disabled-owned (MWVD) financial firms and to firms with a record of equity, diversity, and inclusion within their firms.
Diversity in Broker/Dealers
- Preference for MWVD Broker/Dealers – Policies and procedures establish uniform operating processes across investment divisions for the allowance of preference to qualified MWVD-owned broker/dealers.
- Assets Brokered by MWVD Firms Increased from $603 million to $43 billion – Total assets brokered by MWVD firms increased from $603 million in FY 2014 to $43 billion in FY 2020. That represents a 71-fold increase. Visit The Vault for more information.
- Assets Brokered by MWVD Firms Increased from 1% to 92% – There has been impressive growth in the utilization rate of MWVD broker/dealers, with consistent gains each year. In FY 2014, only 1% of assets were brokered by MWVD firms. By FY 2020, 92% of assets were brokered with MWVD firms.
- Broker/Dealers firms include but are not limited to: Cabrera Capital Markets, Loop Capital Markets, Great Pacific Securities, Drexel Hamilton, MFR Securities, and Mischler Financial Group amongst others.
- Illinois Growth and Innovation Fund (ILGIF) – The Illinois Growth and Innovation Fund is an impact investment fund aiming to invest approximately $1 billion in ways that attract, assist and retain quality tech-enabled businesses in Illinois. As of August 2020, of the $380 million committed to Illinois venture capital firms under ILGIF, $157.5 million has been committed to MWVD-operated venture capital firms. That represents over 41% of committed capital to date.
- Investments from ILGIF fund managers have supported more than 85 diverse-owned portfolio companies to receive funding.
- Through ILGIF, the Illinois Treasurer actively seeds and anchors new minority-operated venture capital funds furthering the investment objective to foster a more diverse and inclusive manager pool and entrepreneurial community across Illinois.
- Venture capital firms include, but are not limited to: Moderne Ventures, Brightwood Capital, Agent Capital, Chingona Ventures, Palladium Equity Partners, Vamos Ventures, Builders VC, Impact Engine, Vistria Group, amongst others.
- Midwest Investors Diversity Initiative – The Illinois Treasurer leads the Midwest Investors Diversity Initiative (MIDI), a 15-member coalition comprised of regional institutional investors with over $820 billion in assets under management. MIDI engages companies in the Midwest facing board diversity shortfalls, working collaboratively to understand company policies and practices and make targeted recommendations to institutionalize best practices and improve board diversity. MIDI works with companies to adopt a diverse search policy known as the “Rooney Rule,” which has its origins in the National Football League. The Rooney Rule provides that, for every open board seat, women and racial minority candidates be included in the initial search pool of candidates.
- Since launching in 2016, MIDI has conducted 54 company engagements, and 32 companies have committed to adopt the Rooney Rule in their governance documents. In addition, 19 people of color and 50 women gained corporate board seats following engagement
- Thirty Percent Coalition – Since 2018, the Illinois Treasurer has been actively involved on the Board of Directors of the Thirty Percent Coalition, which is comprised of over 90 members with over $6 trillion in assets under management (AUM). This coalition is committed to the goal of advancing women, including women of color, on boards of public companies.
- As a leader of the Thirty Percent Coalition, the Illinois Treasurer and fellow investors have successfully engaged nearly 400 companies that have now appointed women to their boards.
- Russell 3000 Disclosure on Racial/Ethnic Board Diversity – The Illinois Treasurer is organizing a new campaign, set to launch in Fall 2020, asking all companies in the Russell 3000 to disclose the racial, ethnic and gender composition of their Board of Directors in their 2021 proxy statements. We believe the business case for board diversity warrants the request for full disclosure. Our office, joined by fellow institutional investors, will ask leading American companies to self-correct this omission in 2021 if they do not do so already. Supporters of this effort will be examining policies to vote against nominating committees with no reported racial/ethnic diversity in their proxy statements and expanding more direct shareholder engagement.
- Engaging Mutual Fund Boards on Diversity Shortfalls – Diversity of corporate boards has increased over the years, due to the recognition that diversity enhances board performance and effectiveness, and significant attention from investors. The same cannot be said of mutual fund boards, which have received less attention. The Illinois Treasurer believes that this is another area where diversity and inclusion can drive value creation.
- In 2019, the Illinois Treasurer engaged 26 mutual fund boards to request information on the diversity of trustees. This allowed the Illinois Treasurer to identify high and low performers among its fund managers, and also gather best practices and recommendations for those seeking to enhance their diversity.
- Proxy Voting – The Illinois Treasurer exercises its proxy voting rights to support proposals to increase board diversity, gender pay gap reporting, and the inclusion of diversity as a performance metric for CEO pay.
- In 2019, the Illinois Treasurer voted against 323 directors due to a lack of gender diversity on the board. The Illinois Treasurer also cast votes in favor of seven shareholder proposals aimed to increase board diversity in 2019. Looking ahead, the Illinois Treasurer will be amending its Proxy Voting Guidelines to vote against members of Nominating & Governance Committee members for those boards that have less than two women directors.
- View our proxy voting dashboard.
Diversifying Access to Capital
- Access to Capital through Invest in Illinois – Invest in Illinois is a collection of programs offered by the Illinois Treasurer – (1) Ag Invest, (2) Business Invest, and (3) Community Invest – that provide $500 million in impact investment deposits to lending institutions to provide consumer loans, assist with farm-related expenses, finance business expansion and fund other important economic and community development activities. By providing access to State investment capital at a lower rate, Invest in Illinois incentivizes financial institutions to lend to minority groups marginalized by limited loans or high-interest rates at a lower cost to borrowers.
- Enforcing Community Reinvestment Standards – Since 2015, the Illinois Treasurer reviews a banking institution’s record of commitment to its community when deciding whether to do business with that financial firm. Banking institutions with a Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) rating below “satisfactory” are now ineligible to do business with the Office.
- Suspended Two Banks for Poor Performance – In June 2015, the Illinois Treasurer cut off investments to two Illinois banks for failing to meet Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) requirements.
- Promoting the Community Reinvestment Act – The Illinois Treasurer maintains a webpage to educate consumers and financial institutions on CRA standards, thereby further ensuring financial service providers in Illinois are advancing an open and effective banking system that grows local communities and bolsters the state economy.
- Advocacy for Aspirational Goals for MWVD Businesses – Treasurer Frerichs spearheaded the passage of Senate Bill 2363, sponsored by Sen. James Clayborne and Rep. Will Davis, which became law on Aug. 19, 2018. Under the new law, the Illinois Treasurer must aspire to use MWVD businesses for no less than 25 percent of contracts and investment-related activities. It also authorizes the Illinois Treasurer to incorporate preferences in the procurement process for MWVD firms, requires a review of a financial institution’s Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) rating, and requires the Illinois Treasurer to create and publish an annual report of the utilization of MWVD firms.
- Current Procedures – The Illinois Treasurer currently includes detailed questions regarding diverse ownership in its Requests for Proposals (“RFPs”). These questions allow the Illinois Treasurer to better understand which communities are competing successfully as well as those that may be falling short. Below is an example of a statement regarding diversity that is included in the Illinois Treasurer’s current RFPs:
- “Respondent’s diversity score will be based on the answers the Respondent provides to the Diversity & Inclusion questions of this RFP. The Evaluation Team shall award a higher diversity score to Respondents that are female, minority, person with disabilities, or veteran owned or managed. Having a higher percentage of subcontractors that are female, minority, person with disabilities, or veteran owned or managed shall also result in higher scores.”
- Utilization Rates – The Illinois Treasurer has taken steps to improve data collection by improving communication internally between departments and externally with contractors. Following this improved communication, there has been an increase in responses to requests for diversity data, and the accuracy of the existing active contracts has improved.
- The Illinois Treasurer distributed a diversity survey to all current contractors with active contractual agreements with the Office. Out of 75 contractors, the Illinois Treasurer obtained the MWVD status of 55, with 19 claiming MWVD status. This shows a significant increase in the data obtained regarding contractors to the previous fiscal year. In addition, slightly more than 25% of the contractors claim MWVD status, which is a 5% uptick from the prior fiscal year. While several responsive contractors from the previous year did not respond to a data request this year, many new contractors released their data for the first time
- 360-Degree Review of Financial Services Partners – Since 2017, all financial and investment firms seeking to do business with the Illinois Treasurer must disclose how their firm promotes equity, diversity, and inclusion. This includes a 360-degree evaluation, conducted annually through the Office’s “Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion Assessment,” of diversity among its board or owners, executive leadership, workforce, supplier network, and community activities. This evaluation leverages data and information already disclosed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which divulges the various types of roles at a company (e.g. executives, managers, professionals, technicians, sales, clerical, labor, etc.) by race, ethnicity and gender.
- MWVD Business Liaison – Since 2017, staff are specifically dedicated, under the Division of Corporate Governance & Sustainable Investment, to assist MWVD investment firms in doing business with the Illinois Treasurer, assisting firms in understanding transaction needs, certification processes, and best-positioning their firms for business opportunities. Staff can be reached at MWVD@illinoistreasurer.gov.
- Financial Services Pipeline (FSP) – Since 2016, the Illinois Treasurer is an active member of the Financial Services Pipeline Initiative, which seeks to increase the representation of Latinos and African-Americans, at all levels, within the Chicago area financial services industry by focusing on the talent pipeline, recruitment/hiring, and development/retention. In an effort to increase the representation of African Americans and Latinos within the financial services sector, the 7th Annual 2020 FSP Intern Career Conference brought together more than 250 interns and students from 14 member firms and 8 non-profit partners across Illinois.
- Advancing Equity in Banking Commission (AEBC) – The Illinois Treasurer and Chicago City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin convened a number of financial institution CEOs across the State of Illinois to discuss and subsequently join the AEB Commission to design and implement a number of solutions to address the systemic and structural racism within the banking industry. The first convening occurred on June 19, 2020, with CEOs and senior executives from Chicago’s leading financial institutions.
Engaging Illinois Diverse Families in College Savings – Treasurer Frerichs in his role as Trustee and Administrator of the highly-rated 529 College Savings programs – Bright Start and Bright Directions – led an overhaul of marketing efforts to reflect the diversity of Illinois families. The Office engaged a multi-cultural marketing firm to launch a Spanish-language campaign. Both 529 programs are available to undocumented families with Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITINs). In 2020, African-American account ownership has increased by 147%, while Latino account ownership increased by 58%.
Investment Services Sought
The Illinois Treasurer seeks a wide variety of financial services and products from MWVD firms, including, but not limited to:
Investment Management Services
||Cash & Cash Equivalents
|Custody and Safekeeping
|Cash and Check Processing
||Credit and Debit Card Processing
Other Investment Services
As set forth in Section 30 of the State Treasurer Act, 15 ILCS 505/30, it is an aspirational goal of the Illinois State Treasurer to use businesses owned by or under the control of qualified veterans of the armed forces of the United States, qualified service-disabled veterans, minority persons, women, or persons with a disability (“MWVD Persons”) for not less than 25% of the total dollar amount of funds under management, purchases of investment securities, and other contracts. Preference is accorded to qualified businesses that demonstrate or attest that (1) greater than 50% of the ownership interest of the firm is held by MWVD Persons, OR (2) greater than 75% of the firm’s senior managers are MWVD Persons.
As used herein, the following definitions apply: (i) “minority person” means a person who is any of the following: American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander; (ii) “woman” means a person who is of the female gender; (iii) “veteran” means a person who (1) has been a member of the armed forces of the United States or, while a citizen of the United States, was a member of the armed forces of allies of the United States in time of hostilities with a foreign country and (2) served under one or more of the following conditions: (a) served a total of at least six months, (b) served for the duration of hostilities regardless of the length of the engagement; (c) was discharged on the basis of hardship; or (d) was released from active duty because of a service connected disability and was discharged under honorable conditions; (iv) “person with a disability” means a person with a severe physical or mental disability that: (1) results from: amputation, arthritis, autism, blindness, burn injury, cancer, cerebral palsy, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, deafness, head injury, heart disease, hemiplegia, hemophilia, respiratory or pulmonary dysfunction, an intellectual disability, mental illness, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, musculoskeletal disorders, neurological disorders, including stroke and epilepsy, paraplegia, quadriplegia and other spinal cord conditions, sickle cell anemia, ulcerative colitis, specific learning disabilities, or end stage renal failure disease; and (2) substantially limits one or more of person’s major life activities. Another disability or combination of disabilities may also be a disability if it is determined to cause a comparable degree of substantial functional limitations similar to the foregoing list of disabilities.
For non-investment related opportunities, including RFPs, RFIs, invitations to bid, and other related areas, please visit our Procurement Opportunities page.
Contact the Illinois Treasurer’s Investment Team
MWVD firms should contact MWVD@illinoistreasurer.gov to provide an overview of their business capabilities and discuss available investment opportunities. MWVD firms should also download and submit both the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Assessment and Capabilities Questionnaire, which provides the Illinois Treasurer’s Office with a resource to be proactive in identifying business opportunities with MWVD investment firms. Submit completed questionnaires to MWVD@illinoistreasurer.gov