Sen. Iris Y. Martinez

CHICAGO – Increased diversity among financial services contractors that work with state pension funds was the subject of two days of Senate hearings this week.

State Senator Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) chaired the hearings, during which Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes and representatives of state, county and local municipal pension funds testified about the importance of accountability and the need for diversity of minorities and women from the top down.

“Some pension systems are doing much better than when we started these hearings, but it’s clear we still need to improve diversity across the board,” Martinez said. “We have a lot of great minority and women-owned firms here in Illinois that deserve an opportunity, and they’re just not getting it.”

Under Illinois law, public employee pension systems must set and work toward diversity goals. They must increase access to state contracts for investment management firms, brokerages and other vendors owned by minorities, women or people with disabilities.

Since 2004, the Senate has held annual hearings to receive updates from the pension systems on their progress in meeting these goals and to discuss ways in which the state can continue to break down barriers for diverse emerging investment managers and other financial professionals.