Equitable Access to Capital Markets

Start Date: January 2020

Portfolio: Fair Finance

Stage: Exploratory

Summary + Problem Statement

The Equitable Access to Capital Markets team is conducting field work to advance the access, growth, and success of minority-led and women-led financial services firms, including a survey of current initiatives, a stakeholder convening, and recommendations for moving the needle to create access.

The concept of capitalism presumes perfect information and equal opportunity. The reality of capital markets is that information and opportunities are distributed unevenly. ”Free market” absolutism has left behind millions of Americans over the past 10 years and created prosperity for a small number of Americans. At the Beeck Center, we identify opportunities that help shrink the racial and gender wealth gaps through more equitable access to capital markets.

A 2019 study sponsored by Knight Foundation found that asset management firms owned by women and people of color manage only 1.3 percent of the $70 trillion investment management industry despite demonstrating performance on par with if not better than majority firms. The most recent refresh of McKinsey’s diversity research continues to demonstrate the benefits of diversity — gender, racial and ethnic — at the executive level on business performance. Given the evidence that should prompt investors to expand manager diversity, these firms continue to struggle to make significant progress in gaining a larger share of the industry. 

We believe an intentional and inclusive approach to manager selection adds value to the industry, markets, and society as a whole. Expanding access only deepens the bench of quality managers and strengthens the industry by adding different insights and perspectives on underserved and overlooked markets, sustains entrepreneurial business growth, builds wealth to move the needle on the racial and gender wealth gaps, and generates a diverse leadership pipeline for foundation and corporate boards.

We are grateful for the generous support of Surdna Foundation, the seed funder of this work.

Project Elements


Through further research in conjunction with existing ecosystem players we will identify practical solutions for addressing barriers to access for diverse fund managers,. We will explore ideas including the creation and dissemination of content to highlight market inequities and promote solutions, like the global directory of women in venture capital. Also, we areconducting a landscape survey of initiatives underway to bolster the ecosystem for fund managers of color and women-led fund managers. Moving this idea forward by:

  • Raising awareness of the significance of intentionally increasing access for diverse managers by publishing content (e.g., blogs, video, etc.) and amplifying messages regarding ecosystem challenges and recommendations.
  • Informing strategies, policies, and practices that address some of the systemic barriers diverse managers face by hosting workshops and webinars with experts to share best practices.
  • Making connections and strengthening the ecosystem by attending conferences with asset managers and using the platform of the Beeck Center to convene players for learning, networking, and access. 


By mapping the ecosystem of stakeholders that represent points of access for diverse fund managers, we will identify the levers for decision making, highlight successful strategies for advancing equitable access, and make recommendations for shifting policies and practices to open doors for opportunity.

Ultimately, we believe advancing equitable access to capital markets for diverse fund managers has ripple effects for the industry and the communities these managers represent. Firms with racial, ethnic and gender diversity in the ownership structure tend to hire and promote opportunities for thus increasing diversity in a field dominated by white men. Diverse firms are often the source of the next generation of diverse asset management firms. Increasing gender, racial and ethnic diversity in the industry drives wealth creation for historically marginalized groups and can begin to address the wealth gap. Not only do diverse firms hire women and people of color at higher rates than their representation in the industry, they maintain networks and see market opportunities among those same communities and direct investment capital to those entrepreneurs and businesses.

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People on this project

Erika Seth Davies

Fellow, Fair Finance
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Lisa Hall

Fellow, Fair Finance
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