We caught up with Laasya to talk about her role as Chair of LCP’s Multicultural Network. Laasya discusses the Multicultural Network’s impact, the importance of intersectionality and the effect of the Black Lives Matter movement in the workplace.
Tell us about yourself
I’ve been at LCP for three years, working in the Investment Consulting Department on a mix of client-based projects and research. My clients are largely institutional investors (mainly pensions schemes) and my research has involved building up our mathematical models. I also chair the Multicultural Network, which is a really important part of my job.
Growing up in Swansea, I never really came into contact with people coming out of the industry. I went to Warwick University and had no idea what I wanted to do – I studied maths because I like maths. I didn’t really know what to apply for and LCP actually came and did a careers fair at my university. It happened to be in the building I was in and they were giving out free pizza, so I went along, and LCP sounded like a really nice place to work. I applied for an internship and was accepted, and I also went on to join as a graduate. Three years later, I haven’t looked back.
What is the culture like at LCP?
LCP is generally a very people orientated place. We started off as a small firm, so we still have that small firm culture. LCP also care a lot about staff wellbeing and supporting a good work-life balance, so they always step up when it comes to mental health support. It is an open, friendly environment. People of all levels are keen to share knowledge with each other, so that’s really nice. You don’t feel like a cog in the machine where you can be replaced straight away.
Did you help form LCP’s Multicultural Network?
So, when I joined, we had a women’s network, but we didn’t have any other D&I networks or a D&I structure. An LGBTQ+ network formed and made some really important changes. After that, we developed a more formal D&I structure, which included an advisory board, including our CEO amongst others. They did a survey about what we wanted, and I felt that we needed to have some kind of Network on race and ethnicity. The survey findings showed that I definitely wasn’t alone. It showed that we should push to set up a multicultural network, and there was a group to set it up that I was part of. As there was already a buy in from senior management, it wasn’t started from scratch. The women’s network has become more inclusive of different ethnicities and gender minorities, but definitely for me, intersectionality is really key.
What have you achieved as chair of the Multicultural Network?
Although I chair the multicultural network, there’s lots of other people on the committee that do lots of work to make everything happen. As a firm we recognise the importance of diversity in the long-term success of the business. As such, the Network has worked with the recruitment team to implement changes to the way we do recruitment – with the ambition of accessing and attracting a more diverse workforce. We’ve partnered with SEO and UpReach who focus on accessing students from ethnic minority and socio-economic diverse backgrounds, as well as partnering with multi -university platforms such as the Bright Network. We now have access to a wider pool of students than we ever had before, so that’s better for getting that representation and diversity in. We have also made changes to the actual assessment process. For example, we’ve introduced contextualisation, where people’s grades are adjusted depending on their backgrounds. Additionally, we’ve run unconscious bias training and started removing people’s names from their applications.
The other key focus of the Network’s work is changing the culture in the firm – in order to improve inclusivity, helping LCP to retain diverse talent. There are a lot of conversations happening now, which I don’t think would have happened two years ago – a result of the hard work of the multicultural network. We do quite a lot on the education side of things, such as a six-week educational programme called “Lets Talk About Race” where we share a different topic to do with race. The first week was history, focusing on colonialism and slavery and then the second was white supremacy. We also have a drop-in session each week where people can come to talk about these topics. They’re not controversial topics but they’re not easy topics to talk about, especially in a firm that is mostly white people. If we had suggested doing this two-years ago, people might not have come up and said anything. But I think that what we’re really trying to do is remove that taboo and talk about the realities of race as they really are.
How has the sudden global focus on the Black Lives Matter movement impacted the Multicultural Network’s work?
Hugely – we’re not saying anything different than before; we’ve been talking about the realities of race and racism for a long time, the difference is that people are listening to us now. It was a bit of a strange one after the incident involving George Floyd, on one hand, a lot of our black staff were very emotional, and it was very distressing. You wanted to take some time to process and listen to what was going on in the world, but on the other hand, the fact that people were finally engaging with these topics, we couldn’t just ignore that. So, whilst doing my full-time job as an investment consultant, I was also sharing lots of different resources – reading lists, podcasts, articles – everything. We ran a TEDtalk and discussion forum, where we screened a TEDtalk about “deconstructing racism one headline at a time”. We’ve done these before, and usually 30 people show up, but this time 220 people showed up. It was definitely to do with the engagement that stemmed from the Black Lives Matter movement. Our CEO is a person of colour himself, and he’s said before that he feels awkward about talking about race as a minority, but now he’s realised that it’s important that he does. We need to be actively anti-racist.
We have been able to capture that engagement. With Black History Month coming up in October, our network definitely has that long-term plan in place. We’re trying to keep things going with educational resources, rather than just being reactionary to things. Although it’s not trending on social media anymore, people do believe us, so it’s important that we keep going.
Any other advice?
My advice for people looking to get into the investment industry would be to be genuine to yourself and don’t feel like you have to change who you are to succeed. Organisations need a diverse range of candidates who think differently and have different experiences – so you should use your differences to your advantage!