2021 Diversity of Asset Managers in Philanthropy

BY Candice Rosevear

Global Economics Group is delighted to share our new research on the diversity of the asset management firms used by the nation’s largest foundations. In our 2020 Diversity of Asset Managers in Philanthropy we examined the portion of foundation endowments that is invested with women- and minority-owned firms. In this updated version of the original study, led by Candice Rosevear in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, we find: 

  • Of the top 55 foundations, which hold $300B in assets, 33 (60%) participated in the research by providing data. This is up from the 52% participation rate in the 2020 study.
  • Among participants, nearly $1 out of $6 U.S.-based investments (16%) is invested with firms owned by women or minorities. The rest is with white, male-owned firms. This represents a 1.1 percentage point increase in diverse investments from the 2020 study.

There is room for improvement in terms of foundation participation/data transparency and diverse investing. In this study, we highlight the following supplemental analyses on the allocation of resources to diverse-owned firms:

  • Diverse-owned firms employ more diverse teams. There is a strong positive correlation between diverse ownership (% firm equity) and diverse workforce (% firm employees), an analysis by Global Economics Group finds based on eVestment data. Greater allocation to diverse-owned firms has the potential to increase career opportunity among women and minority non-owner employees and in turn add more experienced diverse candidates to the industry pipeline.

  • Asset allocators can invest more with diverse managers and still maintain their fiduciary duty. There is no statistically significant difference in performance between diverse- and non-diverse-owned funds, a related Knight Foundation study by Prof. Josh Lerner of Harvard Business School and Bella Research finds. Yet of the $70 trillion industry only 1.3% is managed by diverse-owned firms.

Additionally, three foundations and one asset management firm provided the following insightful articles to accompany our 2021 study:

Global Economics Group thanks the Knight Foundation and all the participating foundations for making this research possible.





Candice Rosevear

Candice Rosevear is Principal in the Labor and Employment, and Securities and Valuation practices at Global Economics Group. Ms. Rosevear has over a decade of experience and has been engaged as an expert economist and consultant on various matters, including wage and hour disputes (FLSA class actions and PAGA representative actions), employment discrimination, securities fraud, market manipulation and valuation.

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