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CalSTRS strengthens organization by embracing DEI

CalSTRS has a long history of supporting diversity, equity and inclusion practices internally, with its partners and across the investment industry.

CalSTRS staff updated the board on internal and external DEI activities and gave an overview of efforts to incorporate DEI in business processes and investment practices at the March meeting.

DEI is not a project for CalSTRS. Rather, DEI is fundamental to how the organization operates. Each year, CalSTRS crafts and shares its Sustainability Report and Diversity in the Management of Investments Report.

Here are highlights of what CalSTRS has done and is planning to do internally and externally in the investment industry:

Internal

Through its investment mentorship and student intern programs, the Investments Branch, in collaboration with Human Resources, has built and supports a highly qualified diverse pipeline and workforce.

  • When CalSTRS rapidly transitioned to a remote work environment during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the internal technology team ensured all employees had the same work tools, opportunities and access to networking. This has been maintained throughout the pandemic and in transitioning to a hybrid work format.
  • Chief Executive Officer Cassandra Lichnock sends a monthly video message to all staff about DEI, and the CalSTRS employee intranet features a webpage celebrating DEI principles and promoting upcoming events.
  • CalSTRS has an inclusion council that is passionate about DEI, with representatives from each branch and various identity groups. This council pursues an organizational culture that fosters DEI through respect, understanding and compassion.
  • CalSTRS upholds the belief that diverse teams perform best, earn better investment returns and minimize risk to the Teachers’ Retirement Fund.

External

  • The 2022 edition of the Diversity in the Management of Investments Report incorporates details on emerging and diverse managers required by California Assembly Bill 890 (Cervantes).
  • As a significant investor in public companies, CalSTRS influences global markets by steering changes in board and workforce diversity. To help achieve this, CalSTRS collaborates with like-minded investors in the Thirty Percent Coalition, Human Capital Management Coalition and California Investors for Effective Board Diversity.
  • CalSTRS hosts events to address and promote DEI within the broader investment industry, such as the CalSTRS Beyond Talk workshop series and the CalPERS and CalSTRS co-hosted Diversity Forum.
  • Through its decades-long efforts, CalSTRS has earned and maintained collaborative relationships with industry partners such as the CFA Institute; the Association of Asian-American Investment Managers; the Hispanic Heritage Foundation; the New America Alliance; the Toigo Foundation (which works with leaders on solutions that drive inclusion and diversity); and Girls Who Invest, among many others.
  • CalSTRS’ Procurement Management Division is expanding DEI within the department’s “request for proposal” solicitation process. The division will require vendors to complete a DEI survey to be considered for an opportunity to work with CalSTRS.