( ENSPIRE News) BWAM Honors 40 Black Women Shaping the Future of Asset Management
ESPIRE Contributor: Phitchaya Thongthai
Black Women in Asset Management, otherwise known as BWAM, has announced its 2022 Winners of 40 under 40 list. BWAM is a global network of professional Black women working in asset management with a mission to generate visibility and provide tools for Black women to further their careers. Founded by Jacqueline Taiwo and Miriam Akambi, the organization grew from group dinners to the now large nexus of 900+ members. The 40 Under 40 List highlights the achievements of these remarkable and successful women within the investment industry.
Jacqueline Taiwo, BWAM’s co-founder, has had years worth of experience within the legal and investment industry. Recognizing the hardships and need for a community, she and Akambi founded BWAM to fill that gap. The organization celebrates the efforts and contributions of Black women who have shown dedication in their careers and communities.
The organization seeks to keep and encourage more Black women to start a career in asset management. It recognizes that it is hard to navigate the investment management industry, especially when it has been historically dominated by non-minority groups. Because of this, BWAM is essential in connecting mentors and role models for women newer to the industry.
How was BWAM founded and how has it grown since its inception in 2019?
It started informally as a small network of women who came together for dinner in London. It was founded by myself and Miriam Akambi. We both worked in private equity and we thought there must be more Black women working in investment in London doing different amazing things we had not connected with. We wanted to create a platform to bring them together. So, those dinners kept growing and within a few months Black women were yearning for something like this, to have a community where you walk into a room filled with Black women in your industry talking about what’s going on, discussing shared challenges, aspirations, and finding a community to support you in your career.
It was the pandemic that helped us grow a lot, because we could no longer do dinners in person, we started hosting panels online in which Black women can join from around the world. That helped us grow and spread our reach. Now we have over 900 women in the network. Our mission is to support women in their careers and help them advance to senior leadership, specifically in the positions to manage capitol and thus in decision-making roles. We want to see the management of capitol done in a more equitable way by an increasing representation of Black women at the top.
How can others participate or collaborate with BWAM?
If you are a Black woman working in the industry, you can go to our website and sign up and you will start receiving our invites. If you are an organization (an asset management firm) and you want to partner with us on recruitment or retention and advancement strategies, email us. We work with firms to help us curate the events because we value their perspectives as employers. We want to make sure we are dialoguing with the organizations directly because they’re in the decision-making seat.
What are BWAM’s future goals and how does it hope to continue shaping the future of asset management?
This year we are focused on visibility. We are doing a lot to promote excellence within our network and to make sure that people know Black women are in asset management. We are also trying to grow the network and make sure that other Black women who are working know that we exist. As we look toward our growth and expansion in the US, we want to provide programming that supports women where they are. We want to run initiatives that provide more tailored support to represent the diversity of Black women. Next year, the initiatives will become even more tailored based on the membership.
What can women looking to start a career in asset management take away from BWAM?
What we created, which many people did not have when they started, is the network. It’s having relationships with mentors, sponsors, and peers. We provide that community of mentorship to help you advance, so if you are struggling there is an army of women you can call on to help you. A lot of Black women, even if they reach the pinnacle, feel alone in this industry. It’s lonely at all levels. So for women who are joining today, we solve that. This really impacts how someone thinks about their chances to succeed in an industry dominated by White men.
Black Women in Asset Management offers a global network of professional Black women, a group of mentors and mentees with the mission to thrive and gain recognition within the field of investment management. It offers a sense of community and solidarity that did not exist before.
For more information on BWAM, visit their website here.