Women, Minorities Manage Only 17% Of Major Foundations' Assets


Foundation: Gates Foundation, Casey Family Programs, Knight Foundation, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Tulsa Community Foundation

credit: sanfordhistory

Less than 20% of the assets held by major foundations is invested by outside firms run by women or people of color, according to a report released Thursday. The report found that 30 of the largest grantmakers deployed a total of $11 billion, or 16.6% of their endowment investments, with firms controlled by women or people of color.

Using a diverse pool of investment managers has many benefits, said Juan Martinez, Knight's chief financial officer.Diverse investment managers often put money into investments that white money managers don't, which can add balance to an investment portfolio.

In the previous study, an investment firm was considered to be diverse if it had at least one partner who was a woman or a person of color. The bar for diverse ownership in the current study was raised to 50% ownership by women or people of color.

The Gates Foundation, the largest private philanthropy in the United States with about $50 billion in assets, participated, but the study did not identify any assets the foundation had steered to investment managers led by women or people of color.

Robert Raben, executive director of the Diverse Asset Managers Initiative, said foundations have done a poor job of providing data on the diversity of their investment consultants.

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