FGCU to host discussion on improving workplace diversity

Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:
Workplace meeting. Credit: WINK News

Financial planning has been at the forefront of a lot of minds this year. But a Florida Gulf Coast University professor of finance says the lack of diversity among financial planners creates a disconnect in services.

Steve Fraser says we experience a level of comfort when working with someone from a similar background or upbringing, yet less than 5% of financial planners are Black or Latino and less than 25% are women. Today, his department at FGCU is hosting a local discussion about how Southwest Florida can promote diversity in the finance industry.

“Financial planning is important to everyone, and unfortunately sometimes the way the system is currently set up is that people who need financial planning the most don’t have access to it, and that we need to fix,” Fraser said. “We need to find a way to get financial planning to the people that need it the most and not just people who have created ways to try to advance their wealth further.”

Fraser says one way FGCU is promoting diversity in their finance department is by offering all the certifications needed to take the certified financial planner board exam.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. But one man says mentorship is one of the best ways to address diversity in the workplace.

Jim Wall says internships or apprenticeships are situations in which young adults are able to find someone they look up to and trust, someone who will help them correct mistakes. Southwest Florida has a lot of retirees from various professional backgrounds, and each of them could make a difference.

“We do have an elderly population that may have more time on their hands, they could be mentors,” Wall said. “I would like to see us tap into them and find individuals willing to mentor, especially in the minority communities.”

FGCU’s finance department hopes today’s discussion is the first step in addressing diversity in the workplace.

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