Diversity, inclusion and ESG are priorities for headhunters looking for CIOs
The combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and the tidal wave for racial justice that dominated 2020 has profoundly changed how and why CIOs are hired in family offices, endowments and foundations, according to a panel at CIOThursday 2021 Symposium.
Headhunters on the panel said the events of the past year had intensified their focus on issues of diversity and inclusion, as well as a candidate’s experience with environmental, social and investment investing. governance (ESG), during the recruitment process.
The panel was moderated by Walter Kress, CIO of EY, and included headhunters Renee Neri, Head of Asset Management, Americas, Heidrick & Struggles; Elizabeth Havens, partner at David Barrett Partners; and Jeff Warren, co-director of the private equity practice of Russell Reynolds Associates.
With the pandemic causing so much disruption in the workplace in 2020, adaptability and flexibility were key themes for headhunters looking for their next CIO to target.
“For clients who never thought they would be able to make a decision based on a virtual interview process, they’ve all fitted in,” Warren said. However, he added that we are at a point in the pandemic where customers view the final rounds as a safe in-person exercise, rather than something to be done from a distance.
But the social upheaval caused by racial injustice over the past year may have had an even greater impact on the research of CIO headhunters than the pandemic. Now, the theme of diversity and inclusion has been at the center of all Havens research at David Barrett Partners.
“Previously, this could have been a focus on certain clients,” Havens said. “But now every research we work on is first and foremost.” She added that the focus on diversity and inclusion is not limited to finding CIOs from diverse backgrounds, but also encompasses those who embrace diversity. She also stressed that retaining diverse talent is just as important as hiring diverse talent.
Sustainability and ESG issues have also been at the center of headhunters’ concerns over the past year.
“How do you count [ESG] in decisions about talent? Warren asked. “Do you recruit with an ESG lens, and is that a key skill not only when you select people, but also when you promote and reward them?”
Warren added that ESG issues need to be integrated into a company’s strategy and need to be more of an overall mindset in the organization and part of the culture.
“It’s really a fascinating moment in time on this subject,” Neri added. “The regulatory environment has also significantly influenced the ESG and sustainability dialogue,” she said, noting that the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently appointed an ESG supervisor. “We hope to see a little less greenwashing and a little more truth in marketing.”
Havens added that almost all of his company’s CIO research today had an ESG element. She said CIOs interviewing for jobs should expect the investment committee to ask questions about their thoughts on ESG issues.
“If you’re in an interview, say, for an endowment, make sure you know where they fall on the spectrum,” Havens said, “because nine times out of 10 you will get a question and now it becomes de more and more a priority. “
Neri also said that another “important emerging theme that we are addressing is activity and engagement in the family office space.” She said that family offices are focused on integrating ESG approaches into their investment decision making, and that some offices are thinking about “the lens of sustainability as it applies to each asset class. to which they allocate ”.
And Warren pointed out that the impetus for ESG investing comes from the younger generations, noting that this is not how his parents invested.
“We’ve never seen it before,” he said. “CIOs must therefore adapt and adjust their portfolios accordingly.”
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Tags: cio, COVID-19, David Barrett Partners, diversity, Elizabeth Havens EY, ESG, headhunter, Heidrick & Struggles, recruitment process, inclusion, Jeff Warren, pandemic, Renee Neri, Russell Reynolds Associates, Sustainability, Walter Kress