Harris050219SPRINGFILED – As an advocate for diversity and inclusion, State Senator Napoleon Harris, III (D-Harvey) chaired a meeting for the Special Committee on Pension Investments on Thursday to discuss the importance of achieving diversity goals for pension investment managers with representatives from various Illinois pension funds. 

“In order to begin to bridge historical disparities, existing industries need to give minority firms a chance to enter the market,” Harris said. “Allowing Illinois pension funds to move at their own pace has not achieved spring of diversity we were anticipating, so we must now redouble our efforts in order to meet those goals.”

The Emerging Manager Program offers opportunities to newer, smaller and diverse investment management firms to help grow the state’s common retirement fund.

Under Illinois law, public employee pension systems must set and work toward diversity goals, as well as increase access to state contracts for investment management firms, brokerages and other vendors owned by minorities, women or people with disabilities. 

Since 2004, the Senate has held annual hearings to receive updates from the pension systems on their progress in meeting these goals and to discuss ways in which the state can continue to break down barriers for emerging investment managers and other financial professionals. 

“We need to ensure that these pension funds are actually trying to move toward achieving diversity,” Harris said. “As some companies have shared that they have exceeded their diversity goals for women, minorities were still left behind.” 

Testimonies from pension fund representatives will continue on Friday, Dec. 11, at 1 p.m.

The virtual committee hearing can be viewed at https://ilga.gov/senateaudvid.asp#Click "Watch Live Virtual Committee Video," and the link will become available when proceedings begin. Blue Room Stream, a subscription-based service, will also stream the hearing.