“Top 5 Tips on making your Fintech more Diverse & Inclusive”

Here are 5 top things that you must do to keep diversity and inclusion efforts at the top of your agenda.

DATE: 06 Dec 2022
AUTHOR: Baljit Kaur – Diversity and inclusion Specialist

It is no longer a question that diversity, equity and inclusion (D,E&I) in the fintech sector can improve culture and governance, boost innovation and lead to better outcomes in risk management. 

Yet, in many ways, our progress in this area is slow-moving. To keep diversity and inclusion efforts at the top of your agenda, here are 5 things you must do.

#1 – Use data as your motor and meter

A sophisticated understanding of diversity and inclusion data is a fundamentally important part of your D,E&I strategy. 

Data acts as a ‘motor’ – eg: the D,E&I engine that powers you up, shines a light on where you need to focus your efforts and gives you clarity on the direction of travel. 

It’s also your ‘meter’, your tool for measuring your progress because ultimately, organisations cannot manage what they do not measure.

But the real value of data is realised when we understand what lies beneath – the reasons for the gaps, disparities and trends. 

More often than not, this will centre on people experiences: not feeling safe, heard and appropriately valued; facing barriers in their career paths; or perhaps experiencing harm as a result of exclusionary language, “banter”, and treatment.

An intersectional analysis of the numerical and ‘emotional’ data will result in more meaningful and nuanced decisions which reflect individuals’ unique experiences.

#2 – Value attributes differently when recruiting

Globally, the fintech industry is experiencing skills shortages and addressing this will require new ways of recruiting and retaining talent. 

This will require building awareness of the opportunities in fintech and being prepared to support employee growth and development, in particular for those that have been historically under-represented or marginalised. 

It will require a new mindset that views increasing diversity as a whole organisational philosophy and not something that kicks in only when there is a vacancy. 

It will also require a broadening understanding that merit and diversity are not mutually exclusive, and the recognition that merit shows up differently in different people.

It is widely acknowledged that the use of AI, especially in areas such as recruitment, is a game changer and provides proven efficiency gains. 

But the danger of misrecognising talent will require the fintech sector to be vigilant in not infiltrating programs with human biases – an approach that will only extend existing inequalities to the future of work.

#3 – Training, training and then some

Diversity of representation and thinking does not result in an inclusive culture. Our attitudes and biases show up in our conversations and actions, and can leave people with harmful experiences of exclusion.

Despite the busyness of our organisations, it is vitally important to carve out time to effectively train employees, giving them the information and resources they need to understand, empathise and be introspective. 

Inclusion boils down to our behaviours. Our understanding of leadership within businesses is also changing, with authentic leadership ranked as the top attribute. 

Training for fintech leaders and managers should engage them at a level that sparks care and consideration in their everyday behaviours.

The importance of ongoing learning and development, rather than a solitary phenomenon, cannot be overstated. This will normalise a culture that will root out exclusionary behaviours, welcome varied perspectives, and be receptive to giving and receiving feedback.

#4 – Every conversation should be a ‘safe’ one

The most effective way to embed inclusion and achieve the organisations values is to equip employees with the framework and ‘soft skills’ to open up authentic conversations in their everyday interactions. 

Authentic and empathetic conversations are where individuals feel free to speak to their lived experience and where colleagues can enter into a dialogue that generates greater understanding. 

This kind of allyship is critical to the success of an inclusion strategy, which is dependent on everyone doing the work.

These conversational experiences can be highly energising and set a positive tone for an organisation that commits to increasing awareness and understanding 365 days of the year and not just at milestone events such as International Women’s Day or Black History Month.

#5 – Build equity in your processes

Include ‘nudges’ (such as rewarding inclusive behaviours) in your employee lifecycle processes to stimulate the desired behaviour change that supports inclusivity, talent attraction and employee advancement.

This is ideally achieved via a D,E&I audit of your practices and initiatives that will ultimately assess whether you are doing enough to encourage equality of opportunity and diversity within the organisation. 

Deconstructing your processes and procedures and unearthing biases that are coded into these is an all important piece of work in your drive for fairness.

Conclusion

It is high time we accelerate a step change in culture change that makes D,E&I a concrete reality so that all employees can perform to the best of their ability.

 

Baljit Kaur
Diversity and Inclusion specialist
Board member Women in Banking and Finance; Steering group member ACAS East Midlands; Regional Volunteer member Engage for Success; Finalist Outstanding Business Woman of the Year (2018)