By Anne Stausboll.

As the nation’s largest public pension fund within the most ethnically and culturally diverse state, we believe the combined experiences, perspectives and talents of all employees and stakeholders strengthen our work culture and organization. We have found time and time again that our differences are our strengths, and are important for serving all Californians.

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) are engrained in everything we do at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS.) Our belief and commitment to diversity touches every corner of our enterprise, from our employees to our culture to our relationships with our business partners.

We recently released a report that powerfully outlines our efforts.  The report, CalPERS Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion Report, looks at the three areas we focus on as we integrate diversity and inclusion into all aspects of our enterprise – workforce, workplace and marketplace.

Our workforce

Our employees are as diverse as our State, with men and women from many nationalities, backgrounds and generations working side by side. Nearly 60 percent of our employees are female.  Employees also speak 31 different languages.

Our recruitment strategies are designed to attract, develop and advance talented individuals regardless of their race, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, age, gender, disability status, military or veteran status or any other broad range of human differences. One tool we use is a new online application platform for jobs that helps to streamline the process and makes it more efficient for both the applicant and CalPERS. We received more than 50,000 applications for 800 job vacancies in the first year of using this technology.

Our workplace

We further integrated D&I concepts and practices by leading more than 900 staff, managers and senior leaders through training designed to enhance personal understanding of D&I and their role in increasing diversity and fostering an inclusive work environment.

We are now promoting knowledge sharing and employee development by championing a two-year informal mentoring initiative.  Our goal is to help each other grow through informal mentoring and weave it into the fabric of our culture.

The marketplace

The report also details another important aspect of our history – our long legacy of leadership and innovation in working with emerging investment managers.

In 2013, we held a forum to bring together emerging investment talent. It truly was a global meeting, with more than 400 interested investment managers from around the United States and the world taking part.

We recently held another Emerging and Diverse Manager Forum in Sacramento, with hundreds of interested investment leaders coming to participate.

Diversity is at the heart of our investment strategy.  It is one of five core issues of value creation that we believe has a material long term impact on risk and return.

This is true for corporate boards accountable for overseeing the capital we invest in companies.  Boards need to represent a diverse mix of characteristics, experience and competencies to ensure effective leadership and oversight of shareowner capital.

Historically, we’ve seen a lack of board turnover, the absence of tenure limits, and narrow outreach efforts.  Boards need to be refreshed with new talent who bring different perspectives, skill-sets, backgrounds and experiences.

In government, as in all workplaces, diversity and inclusion helps drive performance and success. It is an essential part of serving the public employees who serve California.

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Anne Stausboll is Chief Executive Officer for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS)