Black senior members of the asset management industry have urged colleagues and employers to start unpacking the BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) acronym, place more emphasis on race equality in their diversity & inclusion policies and to be more active in standing against workplace and societal racism, warning that "every single one of us is either part of the solution or part of the problem".
Lewis, who is also a member of The Diversity Project and co-founder of the #TalkAboutBlack campaign, found that many black members of the asset management industry were coming to him expressing hurt and anguish.
He therefore decided to write a blog post documenting his feelings, with the aim of increasing understanding in terms of what black people contend with on a regular basis.
"In spite of our positions in the industry and the fact we have worked very hard to be where we are today, we didn't feel any less vulnerable than anyone else. We could be subject to exactly the same treatment," he explained.
"Black communities are more susceptible to higher rates of crime and potentially being expelled from schools. We are more likely to suffer from mental health problems and there is a greater likelihood of us being sectioned. I wrote the blog from a place of pain."
Having sent the article to fellow co-founders of #TalkAboutBlack - LGIM's Justin Onuekwusi and Impax Asset Management's Darren Johnson - the trio decided to launch the #IAM campaign to bring the discussion of race and humanisation to the fore.
Members of the black community in asset management, the broader BAME community, and allies were encouraged to post photos of themselves holding signs depicting three individual character traits alongside the hashtag #IAM, and tagging five other people from the industry in it asking them to do the same.
"There are actually two parts to the #IAM message. There is the 'I am human' and this is the signs that everyone has been holding up," explained Lewis (pictured, above left, with Onuekwusi).
With this campaign, you are taking control over your own narrative; you are telling people 'this is what I am'. That is key to better understanding others."
"But there is also the 'I am more likely' element to it - I am more likely to be a victim of something, or to experience something negative as a result of the colour of my skin. Or, I am perceived in some way."