Diversity & Inclusion. An interview with StepStone Group
Investor Perspectives on DEI
February 2, 2021
For StepStone Group’s Global Head of Responsible Investing, Suzanne Tavill, who grew up in apartheid South Africa, there is so much opportunity to effect change within the real estate sector.
Speaking to Marjorie Tsang, the former interim CIO and Head of Real Estate at the New York State Common Retirement Fund, Tavill says there are opportunities for diversity and empowerment ranging from outreach to local universities, to enhanced recruitment, training and sponsorship practices across the construction, asset- and facilities-management sectors.
The real estate sector is such an important employer that, by addressing D&I, the sector can have a material impact on improving social equity.
The interview is one of a series of investor perspectives on diversity being published as part of the NAREIM Diversity & Inclusion Survey. Download your complimentary copy of the article here.
StepStone favors data collection that allows them to compare and benchmark ethnicity across regions at the cost of a narrower or country-specific ethnicity definition. They collect data on gender and ethnicity for different seniority levels and separate that data from back office or legal or marketing. They are also starting to ask for similar data from GPs on their portfolio companies with a focus on board and C-suite composition.
Becoming a signatory to the UNPRI sends a strong signal on one’s commitment to ESG. Many LPs are utilizing sustainable development goals (SDGs) as benchmarks around their investment programs.
Smaller managers have the advantage of deep relationships with the community. They can use their knowledge of the community to go micro in terms of building deeper relationships into schools, colleges and different organizations to drive diverse sourcing for their teams and portfolio companies.
For organizations releasing policy statements and social proclamations, is this the beginning of fundamental change, or is this a good marketing moment and an opportunity to keep staff on side?
Since 2017, NAREIM has produced a Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Survey for members through its Compensation benchmarking. In 2021, NAREIM unveiled a dedicated D&I survey in an effort to help the entire industry become more diverse.
Diversity is not just about gender or ethnicity. It's also about diversity of thought and the diversity of ideas within a team. Diversity is about having, and listening to, the different voices at the table to better prepare an investment firm for managing and executing upon situations, such as those we face today.
As part of NAREIM's work focused on Diversity & Inclusion, we invited institutional investors to talk about their perspectives on diversity and inclusion and how they are working with investment managers to deliver lasting change for the industry. Enjoy the conversation.