Martinez examines state’s diversity goals for pension systems

Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez


Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez (D – Chicago 13), chaired two hearings this week to review Illinois’ efforts to increase diversity when contracting with financial services providers to invest its pension funds.


During the two-day hearing, State Treasurer Michael Frerichs and representatives of state, county and municipal pension funds testified about the importance of accountability and the need for diversity from the top down.

“I remain committed to the examination of the participation of qualified minority and women-owned firms in order to ensure that a level playing field exists among those seeking to do business with the public pension systems,” Martinez said.

Martinez also introduced two pieces of proposed legislation to increase diversity in consultant hiring. The first would require that any open meeting of the board of a retirement system or pension fund be broadcast to the public in real-time on the system's or fund’s website using high-speed internet.  The second would allow consultants to allocate additional funds to diverse emerging managers without engaging in a lengthy request for proposal (RFP) process if there is a preexisting relationship and contract.

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.