For more than a decade, the University tried to increase the diversity of the people who manage its $26 billion in assets. But the school was “making no progress,” admits Andrew Golden, the head of the Princeton University Investment Co. (Princo).
Princeton has been pushing its almost 50 U.S.-based managers — largely white and male — to add more women and people of color to its senior investing team. But a better strategy, Golden came to realize, was to seek out already diverse teams and add them to Princo’s rotation. In the last year or so, the school has added seven new investing teams to its portfolio, three of whom show diversity in their leadership.
“I’m doing this to make money,” Golden said. “If they are top-notch people and they happen to be diverse, that gives a turbocharge to that. We’re not doing this for charity.”
Princo is not dropping managers on the basis of their diversity record, he said, but is making that one of many considerations for all future relationships with new managers. For instance, the school recently began working with Forerunner Ventures, a Silicon Valley venture-capital firm founded by well-regarded retail and e-commerce expert Kirsten Green.
“The fact that they recognize the importance, and candidly advantages, of diverse investing teams is yet another demonstration of why this team has been and will continue to be as successful as they are in managing the endowment,” Green told PAW.
Golden plans more mentoring of up-and-coming investors from diverse backgrounds. He’s promised to meet with 50 of them this fiscal year as part of a new program that Princo is piloting. “I’m hoping that people will feel very safe and say what they have felt as impediments to their advancement,” he said. “This is for us to really understand.”