A first-of-its-kind study by the Knight Foundation, which analyzes the diversity of investment portfolios of charitable foundations, ranks Carnegie Corporation of New York fifth among the largest foundations in the United States in the percentage of assets invested with women- and minority-owned asset management firms. Of Carnegie Corporation of New York’s $3.52 billion in assets, 20.9 percent is invested in diversely owned firms, above the average 13.3 percent investment by foundations evaluated in the study.

In association with the report’s findings, Kim Lew, the Corporation’s chief investment officer, and Alisa Mall, managing director of investments, who heads the investment team’s diversity and inclusion efforts, coauthored an essay explaining why investing in diverse asset managers is a performance imperative.

“So why have we decided to prioritize diversity when evaluating and selecting investment firms to help manage our endowment? Because we believe it is a performance imperative,” writes Lew and Mall. “As the U.S. population becomes increasingly diverse and international markets become more accessible to investors, firms employing individuals with varied backgrounds will have a competitive advantage in understanding the nuances of investing opportunities.”

Illustration by Institutional Investor
Knight Foundation report bar chart on foundations investing in diversity

Lew and Mall also spoke with Institutional Investor about their strategic efforts toward greater inclusion. “We’ve taken a very active approach in meeting with any diverse manager that comes to us,” Lew told Institutional Investor. “Many may not be ready for capital from Carnegie, but we want to make sure they think about how to build their organization in a way that we could eventually support them. We build these relationships over time, and we think it bears fruit.”

Mall commented that, over the last year or so, diversity and inclusion have been “elevated in level of priority for investment management firms and investors in a meaningful way.”