Women in NeuGroup (WiNG) members discuss advancing D&I objectives, starting with cash portfolio investment partners.
Talking the talk can be an important first step, but putting words into action is where treasury gets involved in delivering the financial end of ESG and D&I commitments made by organizations.
- A recent Women in NeuGroup (WiNG) event addressed opportunities to create meaningful impact via the corporate cash investment portfolio.
Diversity in financial partnerships. One way to meet D&I goals is to boost the number of firms engaged to conduct treasury, funding and investment business.
- Members across the NeuGroup Network have made strides in adding partners, for example, to their bond underwriters as well as buyback and CP programs.
- Because of traditional criteria such as counterparty risk or minimum assets under management thresholds for investment mandates, this may require a policy update or exception.
- Women-owned firms represent less than two percent of global asset managers and often fall below existing thresholds for many large corporate investment guidelines.
Member investment cases. Attendees heard from two NeuGroup members who have engaged with NeuGroup’s 2021 WiNG partners, both of which are women-owned: R. Seelaus & Co., an asset manager, and CNote, a technology-enabled investment platform.
- Apple has allocated a part of its cash investment portfolio to Seelaus. The fees will directly fund salaries for a 12-month internship program at Seelaus, a program designed to give young women the opportunity learn about asset management by rotating through the portfolio management, operations, research, trade execution, compliance, marketing, finance and business development teams.
- Another NeuGroup member, Micron Technology, has also allocated part of its portfolio to assist underrepresented groups and communities by way of SHE (support housing equality), Seelaus’ agency mortgage-backed security impact investment strategy designed to support home ownership.
Scalable investment in minority community deposits with Mastercard and CNote. As previously reported in NeuGroup Insights, Mastercard has partnered with CNote, whose platform gives investors a scalable way to invest in federally certified community development financial institutions (CDFIs).
- PayPal, another NeuGroup member company, recently announced an investment commitment to support racial equity, and it includes an allocation to CNote (the Wisdom Fund).
Scalability and repeatability are key. While D&I and impact investment efforts are in the start-up or ramp-up phase, many of them are taking up a disproportionate amount of time compared to the large cash portfolios at NeuGroup member companies, many of which are large- and mega-caps.
- To really make an impact, the selection criteria and implementation process needs to be streamlined and each investment scalable. That is the case with both of these investments: you can invest a little or a lot.
- Without a change in process, the CNote platform enables investments at scale.
- And a larger mandate with Seelaus can fund more internships, which are repeatable every year as a new class comes in.
- Repeatability also means “copycatting” is encouraged: why not embrace a model already vetted and tried out by a leading company so that corporates in the aggregate can have a bigger impact?
You have to start somewhere, or you’ll never start. From the point of view of a large corporate with a world-renowned brand, it is tempting to go for a big splash, so starting small may feel insufficiently on-brand.
- But by choosing partners and models that have the potential to scale and repeat over time, you can build internal support while making adjustments as you go along—such as finding internship recruitment approaches and channels to reach candidates outside your traditional talent pool.
Whose responsibility? WiNG members agreed that reaching D&I objectives isn’t something that should be solely owned by or handed off to women and minority employees.
- At any company claiming to take the lead on this, the effort should be enterprise-wide: “I want to be shoulder to shoulder with male counterparts; I don’t want to be the one woman in the room and the one to push for diversity,” noted a WiNG participant, an assistant treasurer at a global firm where she is the only women at the treasury leadership level.