On the Road to Gender Diversity and Racial Equity in Finance

Apr 14, 2021 10:10 AM ET

On the Road to Gender Diversity and Racial Equity in Finance

by Malaika Maphalala, Partner and Wealth Advisor at Natural Investments 

Twelve years ago, I was the first woman and person of color to join Natural Investments as a Financial Advisor. I was thrilled to have found them. Burnt out after a frustratingly underpaid fifteen years in the non-profit sector working in underserved communities, I was determined to cultivate a new career in social finance, where I hoped to more powerfully and effectively move money into things that matter, while also increasing my personal income. I took year but I was able to build my practice on my own terms: with flexibility and the freedom to focus on my interests and passions along the way. 

Today we have grown into a billion-dollar firm with 21 advisors across twelve states, and I’m honored to be one of six Partners. I am at the peak of my career, able to focus on exactly what I am most interested in and beginning for the first time to really accumulate wealth at a level I hadn’t imagined was possible for me. It’s an amazing point in my personal trajectory and I am feeling deeply moved to give back: to hold the door open for others like me, women of color from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, who never imagined they could have access to opportunities like this. 

Like it or not, in our position as Financial Advisors, we become gatekeepers. At my gate, I give preference to investments that demonstrate not only financial health, but also a deep commitment to socially and environmentally responsible business practices that intentionally include working to build equity across gender, race, and class through their work. This should not be just a side note, or a well-crafted sentence or two in investor materials, but a thoughtful core element of the work with attention to increasing representation and equity across management, staff, supply chain, service providers, and beneficiaries.

Read Malaika's fascinating story herehttps://greenmoney.com/on-the-road-to-gender-and-racial-equity-in-finance