Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

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Diversity is Good for Business

“Using diverse investment firms is not only about creating growth and opportunity in our communities, but it’s integral to increasing our investment returns.”

-Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs

The Illinois Treasurer believes that our government should mirror the diversity in our state. And beyond that, diversity is good for business. Research demonstrates that diverse-owned companies are often well-situated to ascertain capital inefficiencies in the market, and as such, many are primed to outperform their peers. That’s why we’re focused on providing more opportunities to qualified Minority, Women, Veteran, and Disabled-owned (MWVD) financial firms and to firms with a record of equity, diversity, and inclusion within their firms.


Inclusion Graphic

Diversity in Broker/Dealers
  • Preference for MWVD Broker/Dealers – Policies and procedures establish uniform operating processes across investment divisions for the allowance of preference to qualified MWVD-owned broker/dealers.
  • Assets Brokered by MWVD Firms Increased from $603 million to $46 billion Total assets brokered by MWVD firms increased from $603 million in FY 2014 to $46 billion in FY 2023. That represents a 76-fold increase.  Visit The Vault for more information.
  • Assets Brokered by MWVD Firms Increased from 6% to 83% – There has been impressive growth in the utilization rate of MWVD broker/dealers, with consistent gains each year.  In FY 2015, only 6% of assets were brokered by MWVD firms.  By FY 2023, 83% of assets were brokered with MWVD firms.
    • Broker/Dealers firms include but are not limited to:  Cabrera Capital Markets, Loop Capital Markets, Great Pacific Securities, Drexel Hamilton, MFR Securities, and Mischler Financial Group amongst others.

Assets Brokered by MWVD Firms

  • Economic Impact on MWVD Broker/Dealers – As a result of increased utilization by the Illinois Treasurer, MWVD broker/dealers are estimated to have attained nearly $7.6 million for services rendered over the course of FY 2016 to FY 2022. We are currently in process of calculating the estimated economic impact on MWVD Broker/Dealers for FY23. Graphics will be updated once this information is available.

Economic Impact on MWVD Broker Dealers

Diversity in Asset Management
  • Preference for MWVD Asset Managers – Policies and procedures establish uniform operating processes across investment divisions for the allowance of preference to qualified MWVD-owned asset managers.
  • Implementation of the Garcia Rule – The Illinois Treasurer maintains a requirement that helps ensure purposeful recruitment of diverse candidates and requires the Illinois Treasurer to interview at least one diverse candidate before the final selection of a candidate for any investment manager search in any program overseen by the Treasurer. 
  • Integrating Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion into the Investment Selection Process – The Illinois Treasurer believes investment managers that neglect equity, diversity, and inclusion cannot fully understand the aspects shaping their business, the economic environment and the world in general. A strong commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion leads to broader and more robust innovation, the ability to overcome challenges, and the attraction and retention of top talent. The Illinois Treasurer believes a diverse team is better equipped to understand and respond to challenges related to equity, diversity, and inclusion, which may be material, and could affect long-term investment performance.
    • Actions taken pertaining to equity, diversity, and inclusion have, and will continue to be, a differentiator of a firm’s strategy and will be considered a supplement to the Treasurer's qualitative and quantitative evaluation process across both public and private markets.
  • 30% for MWVD Broker/Dealers – All managers of separately managed investment portfolios under the Illinois Treasurer are required to direct at least 30% of total commission dollars to MWVD broker/dealers, preferably Illinois-based, to increase opportunities to qualified firms.
  • Assets Managed by MWVD Firms Increased from $20 million to $3.8 billion – The Illinois Treasurer increased assets managed/supported by MWVD firms from $20 million in July 2015 to $3.8 billion as of December 2023. That’s a 185-fold increase. This includes MWVD owned or operated asset management firms and mutual fund sub-advisory relationships. Visit The Vault for more information.
    • Asset Management firms include but are not limited to: Ariel Investments, Garcia Hamilton & Associates, Ramirez Asset Management, Sit Investments, Brightwood Capital Advisors, Palladium Equity, and Valor Equity amongst others.

  • Economic Impact on MWVD Asset Managers – As a result of increased utilization by the Illinois Treasurer, MWVD asset managers are estimated to have attained over $34 million for services rendered over the course of CY 2015 to CY 2022. We are currently in process of calculating the estimated economic impact on MWVD Asset Managers for CY23. Graphics will be updated once this information is available.

  • Illinois Growth and Innovation Fund (ILGIF) – The Illinois Growth and Innovation Fund is an impact investment fund aiming to invest approximately $1.5 billion in ways that attract, assist and retain quality tech-enabled businesses in Illinois.  As of June 30, 2023, $281 million in ILGIF funds has been committed to MWVD-operated firms. 
    • Investments from ILGIF fund managers have supported more than 349 diverse-owned portfolio companies to receive funding.
    • Through ILGIF, the Illinois Treasurer actively seeds and anchors new minority-operated venture capital funds furthering the investment objective to foster a more diverse and inclusive manager pool and entrepreneurial community across Illinois.
    • Venture capital firms include, but are not limited to:  Moderne Ventures, Brightwood Capital, Agent Capital, Chingona Ventures, Palladium Equity Partners, Vamos Ventures, Builders VC, Impact Engine, Vistria Group, amongst others.
  • Investment Consultant Scorecard – Given the centrality of investment consultants in the identification and selection of external investment managers used by the Illinois Treasurer, it is important to have a system that assesses the capabilities and attributes of investment consultants to help the Illinois Treasurer execute its goal to increase the utilization of diverse-owned investment firms.  The office’s Investment Consultant Scorecard is a customized evaluation process that seeks to fulfill this objective.  Please view the Scorecard Guide for more information on the purpose, structure, and rating methodology.


Board Diversity
  • Midwest Investors Diversity Initiative – The Illinois Treasurer leads the Midwest Investors Diversity Initiative (MIDI), a 16-member coalition comprised of regional institutional investors with over $1 trillion in assets under management. MIDI engages companies in the Midwest facing board diversity shortfalls, working collaboratively to understand company policies and practices and make targeted recommendations to institutionalize best practices and improve board diversity. MIDI works with companies to adopt a diverse search policy known as the “Rooney Rule,” which provides that, for every open board seat, women and racial minority candidates be included in the initial search pool of candidates.
    • Since 2016, when the group was formed, MIDI has engaged 78 companies on the issue of board diversity. Among the companies engaged, 58% of new board director appointments (114 of 197) were women and persons of color. Amont those that received board appointments, 86 were women and 60 were persons of color, including 32 women of color. Further, among all companies engaged by MIDI, 58 companies now publicly disclose board diversity data; and 66 companies have adopted a policy to include diverse candidates in the search process, and 9 publicly disclose their EEO-1 report.


  • Thirty Percent Coalition – Since 2018, the Illinois Treasurer has been actively involved with the Thirty Percent Coalition, which is comprised of over 90 members with over $8 trillion in assets under management (AUM). This coalition is committed to the goal of advancing women, including women of color, on boards of public companies. The Coalition has successfully engaged nearly 500 companies that have now appointed women to their boards.


  • Proxy Voting – The Illinois Treasurer exercises its proxy voting rights to support proposals to increase board diversity, gender pay gap reporting, and the inclusion of diversity as a performance metric for CEO pay.
    • In 2022, the Illinois Treasurer voted against 1,026 directors on nominating committees for failure to disclose the racial composition of the board, and voted against 1,182 directors on nominating committees for lack of gender diversity. The Illinois Treasurer also cast votes in favor of 5 shareholder proposals aimed to increase board diversity in 2022 and 5 proposals to report on gender pay gap.
    • View our proxy voting dashboard.


Diversifying Access to Capital


  • CAST US:  A Strategic Investment in Chicago’s Diverse Entrepreneurs – Since 2019, Treasurer Frerichs has partnered with Don Thompson, CEO and Founder of Cleveland Avenue, to find ways to empower underrepresented communities by investing in Black, Latinx, and women entrepreneurs. In 2020, Treasurer Frerichs made the largest investment to date from the Illinois Growth and Innovation Fund (“ILGIF”), committing $16 million to the Cleveland Avenue State Treasurer’s Urban Success Fund (“CAST US”), a $70 million fund intended to connect diverse entrepreneurs in under-invested areas of Chicago with capital and business support resources. CAST US is the first venture capital fund that directly focuses on investing in underserved communities and underinvested business entrepreneurs specifically on the South and West sides of Chicago. ILGIF has been at the forefront of increasing equity, diversity, and inclusion within the venture capital ecosystem, with approximately 40% of its committed capital invested with firms led by women and people of color. Learn more at www.clevelandave.com/castus.
  • Access to Capital through Invest in Illinois Invest in Illinois is a collection of programs offered by the Illinois Treasurer – (1) Ag Invest, (2) Business Invest, and (3) Community Invest – that provide millions in impact investment deposits to lending institutions to provide consumer loans, assist with farm-related expenses, finance business expansion and fund other important economic and community development activities.  By providing access to State investment capital at a lower rate, Invest in Illinois incentivizes financial institutions to lend to minority groups marginalized by limited loans or high-interest rates at a lower cost to borrowers.
  • Enforcing Community Reinvestment Standards – Since 2015, the Illinois Treasurer reviews a banking institution’s record of commitment to its community when deciding whether to do business with that financial firm.  Banking institutions with a Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) rating below “satisfactory” are now ineligible to do business with the Office.
    • Suspended Two Banks for Poor Performance – In June 2015, the Illinois Treasurer cut off investments to two Illinois banks for failing to meet Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) requirements.
    • Promoting the Community Reinvestment Act – The Illinois Treasurer maintains a webpage to educate consumers and financial institutions on CRA standards, thereby further ensuring financial service providers in Illinois are advancing an open and effective banking system that grows local communities and bolsters the state economy.


  • Advocacy for Aspirational Goals for MWVD Businesses – Treasurer Frerichs spearheaded the passage of Senate Bill 2363, sponsored by Sen. James Clayborne and Rep. Will Davis, which became law on Aug. 19, 2018.  Under the new law, the Illinois Treasurer must aspire to use MWVD businesses for no less than 25 percent of contracts and investment-related activities. It also authorizes the Illinois Treasurer to incorporate preferences in the procurement process for MWVD firms, requires a review of a financial institution’s Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) rating, and requires the Illinois Treasurer to create and publish an annual report of the utilization of MWVD firms.
  • Current Procedures – The Illinois Treasurer currently includes detailed questions regarding diverse ownership in its Requests for Proposals (“RFPs”). These questions allow the Illinois Treasurer to better understand which communities are competing successfully as well as those that may be falling short. Below is an example of a statement regarding diversity that is included in the Illinois Treasurer’s current RFPs:
    • “Respondent’s diversity score will be based on the answers the Respondent provides to the Diversity & Inclusion questions of this RFP. The Evaluation Team shall award a higher diversity score to Respondents that are female, minority, person with disabilities, or veteran owned or managed. Having a higher percentage of subcontractors that are female, minority, person with disabilities, or veteran owned or managed shall also result in higher scores.”
  • Utilization Rates – The Illinois Treasurer has taken steps to improve data collection by improving communication internally between departments and externally with contractors. Following this improved communication, there has been an increase in responses to requests for diversity data, and the accuracy of the existing active contracts has improved.
    • The Illinois Treasurer distributes a diversity assessment to all current contractors with active contractual agreements with the Office. Of those that responsed or for which the Illinois Treasurer was able to confirm the MWVD status with the State's Chief Procurement Office for General Services, 20 contractors claimed MWVD status in FY 2023. This represents a 33% increase in the number of confirmed MWVD contractors from the prior fiscal year. The Illinois Treasurer will continue to take steps to encourage its current countractors to report on their ownership status and to increase MWVD participation. 


Officewide Initiatives
  • 360-Degree Review of Financial Services Partners – Since 2017, all financial and investment firms seeking to do business with the Illinois Treasurer must disclose how their firm promotes equity, diversity, and inclusion. This includes a 360-degree evaluation, conducted annually through the Office’s “Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion Assessment,” of diversity among its board or owners, executive leadership, workforce, supplier network, and community activities. This evaluation leverages data and information already disclosed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which divulges the various types of roles at a company (e.g. executives, managers, professionals, technicians, sales, clerical, labor, etc.) by race, ethnicity and gender.

360 Degrees Graphic

  • MWVD Business Liaison – Since 2017, staff are specifically dedicated, under the Division of Corporate Governance & Sustainable Investment, to assist MWVD investment firms in doing business with the Illinois Treasurer, assisting firms in understanding transaction needs, certification processes, and best-positioning their firms for business opportunities.  Staff can be reached at MWVD@illinoistreasurer.gov
  • Financial Services Pipeline (FSP) – Since 2016, the Illinois Treasurer is an active member of the Financial Services Pipeline Initiative, which seeks to increase the representation of Latinos and African-Americans, at all levels, within the Chicago area financial services industry by focusing on the talent pipeline, recruitment/hiring, and development/retention.  In an effort to increase the representation of African Americans and Latinos within the financial services sector, the 7th Annual 2020 FSP Intern Career Conference brought together more than 250 interns and students from 14 member firms and 8 non-profit partners across Illinois.
  • Advancing Equity in Banking Commission (AEBC) – The Illinois Treasurer and Chicago City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin convened a number of financial institution CEOs across the State of Illinois to discuss and subsequently join the AEB Commission to design and implement a number of solutions to address the systemic and structural racism within the banking industry.  The first convening occurred on June 19, 2020, with CEOs and senior executives from Chicago’s leading financial institutions.    


  • ILPA Diversity in Action Signatory – As a signatory to the Institutional Limited Partners Association’s Diversity in Action Initiative, the Illinois Treasurer furthers our goal of fostering a more diverse and inclusive private equity industry. The objective of the Diversity in Action Initiative is to motivate venture capital and private equity firms to adopt specific actions and best practices that advance equity, diversity and inclusion over the long-term (e.g. establish organizational goals for the recruitment, hiring and retention of women and persons of color, assign senior-level accountability for EDI responsibilities, etc.). Learn more at https://ilpa.org/ilpa_diversityinaction/


Building Equity
  • Engaging Illinois Diverse Families in College Savings  Treasurer Frerichs in his role as Trustee and Administrator of the highly-rated 529 College Savings programs – Bright Start and Bright Directions – led an overhaul of marketing efforts to reflect the diversity of Illinois families. The Office engaged a multi-cultural marketing firm to launch a Spanish-language campaign. Both 529 programs are also available to undocumented families with Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITINs). 


Investment Services Sought

The Illinois Treasurer seeks a wide variety of financial services and products from MWVD firms, including, but not limited to:

Broker/Dealer Services

U.S. Treasuries Supranational Bonds
U.S. Agencies Commercial Paper
Foreign Bonds  Municipal Bonds
Corporate Bonds/Notes  Repurchase Agreements





Investment Management Services

Fixed Income Cash & Cash Equivalents
Public Equities Real Estate
Private Equity Venture Capital
Securities Lending Private Debt





Banking Services

Custody and Safekeeping Depository Services
ACH Transactions Lockbox Services
Cash and Check Processing Credit and Debit Card Processing




Other Investment Services

Investment Consulting Linked/Time Deposits
Bond Arbitrage Third-Party Research
Treasury Consulting -






MWVD Preference

As set forth in Section 30 of the State Treasurer Act, 15 ILCS 505/30, it is an aspirational goal of the Illinois State Treasurer to use businesses owned by or under the control of qualified veterans of the armed forces of the United States, qualified service-disabled veterans, minority persons, women, or persons with a disability (“MWVD Persons”) for not less than 25% of the total dollar amount of funds under management, purchases of investment securities, and other contracts. Preference is accorded to qualified businesses that demonstrate or attest that (1) greater than 50% of the ownership interest of the firm is held by MWVD Persons, OR (2) greater than 75% of the firm’s senior managers are MWVD Persons.


As used herein, the following definitions apply:  (i) “minority person” means a person who is any of the following: American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander; (ii) “woman” means a person who is of the female gender; (iii) “veteran” means a person who (1) has been a member of the armed forces of the United States or, while a citizen of the United States, was a member of the armed forces of allies of the United States in time of hostilities with a foreign country and (2) served under one or more of the following conditions: (a) served a total of at least six months, (b) served for the duration of hostilities regardless of the length of the engagement; (c) was discharged on the basis of hardship; or (d) was released from active duty because of a service connected disability and was discharged under honorable conditions; (iv) “person with a disability” means a person with a severe physical or mental disability that: (1) results from: amputation, arthritis, autism, blindness, burn injury, cancer, cerebral palsy, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, deafness, head injury, heart disease, hemiplegia, hemophilia, respiratory or pulmonary dysfunction, an intellectual disability, mental illness, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, musculoskeletal disorders, neurological disorders, including stroke and epilepsy, paraplegia, quadriplegia and other spinal cord conditions, sickle cell anemia, ulcerative colitis, specific learning disabilities, or end stage renal failure disease; and (2) substantially limits one or more of person’s major life activities. Another disability or combination of disabilities may also be a disability if it is determined to cause a comparable degree of substantial functional limitations similar to the foregoing list of disabilities.


Procurement Opportunities

For non-investment related opportunities, including RFPs, RFIs, invitations to bid, and other related areas, please visit our Procurement Opportunities page.


Contact the Illinois Treasurer’s Investment Team

MWVD firms should contact MWVD@illinoistreasurer.gov to provide an overview of their business capabilities and discuss available investment opportunities. MWVD firms should also download and submit both the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Assessment and Capabilities Questionnaire, which provides the Illinois Treasurer’s Office with a resource to be proactive in identifying business opportunities with MWVD investment firms.  Submit completed questionnaires to MWVD@illinoistreasurer.gov