Three months ago, we at RCM were shocked by the news of the killing of George Floyd by police officers in the United States, one recent example of numerous similar incidents. It has been a wake-up call to the world, and one which we hope will be sustained through the policy decisions of governments, institutions and businesses. The evidence of institutionalised racial bias, which was well known but officially unrecognised, has now become overwhelming.
Events in the US, where the consequences of racial bias are often more extreme, can sometimes drown out the bias which is experienced in the UK. However, this bias can be clearly observed in inequalities of economic outcome, educational opportunity, the results of medical interventions, and the countless differences in expectations and response that are experienced here by individuals from ethnic minorities every day. These biases are pervasive throughout our society, and we are keen to do our part to change them and their consequences where we feel we can be effective.
Aside from the manifest unfairness associated with inequality of opportunity, and the unacceptable impact that we have witnessed on the physical security of victims of racial discrimination, society as a whole is deprived of the untapped potential of a vast talent pool. As we consider the broader costs to society, these add up further. Lack of trust in institutions, in particular lack of confidence in the rule of law and the even application of the law, is socially and economically destructive.
Like many companies, RCM has more work to do in terms of diversity, and this is something that we are working on. However, whilst recognising the need to address our own deficiencies, we are clear that they cannot be a reason for us to do or say nothing.
We have spent the last few months carefully examining initiatives which we think will make a difference. It is evident that positive intervention to counter inequality for the young can be highly beneficial. Therefore RCM will target its support towards educational opportunities in parts of London which have a high proportion of people of African, Caribbean and other minority ethnicity.
We will concentrate our support through an initial five year partnership with a small number of organizations which we believe have the potential to make a significant long-term difference. As these organizations succeed, and the composition of workplaces - hedge fund managers amongst them - change, we hope in addition that this will do something to begin creating a more equitable environment where everyone has the same opportunity set irrespective of ethnicity.
One such initiative will be to support the establishment of the “Chrysalis East” project aimed at maximising the educational outcomes for children, many of whom are from an ethnic minority background, in the north London borough of Haringey. The project will fund teachers and specialist teaching assistants based at the highly successful sixth form free school, London Academy of Excellence Tottenham (LAET), and deploy them within local secondary schools and primary schools, in order to help to prepare students for the next stage in their education. RCM will also support the provision of personalised careers advice at key transition points for disadvantaged young people in the local education system there.
In addition RCM will work with The Amos Bursary, that selects young men and women of African and Caribbean descent from schools all over London, for a programme that provides funding, support, and development opportunities from the age of 16 through to leaving university. The programme focuses on personal development as well as educational outcomes to build self-confidence and self-belief. Participants are encouraged to form support networks to help each other to succeed, and to encourage other young people from similar backgrounds to follow in their footsteps, thus giving the programme a strong self-reinforcing element.
Addressing the question of what we can do both within our business and as part of a broader society has taken thought. RCM’s business is normally to observe and analyse, not comment on, public affairs. But this matters enough for us to publicly state our position.
Rokos Capital Management