Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) have particular significance for specialist payment providers. Unquestionably, the commercial advantages of a working culture that promotes DEI are not only beneficial for a company’s bottom line; it also boosts employee satisfaction and appeals to prospective employees. While diversity hurdles persist in finance and FinTech, according to Tech Nation, diversity for underrepresented groups has increased in FinTech to 20% in 2021.
DEI is known to boost innovation and improve customer experience. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) noted, “Research shows evidence of correlations between diversity and inclusion and positive outcomes in risk management, good conduct, healthy working cultures, and innovation. These outcomes directly contribute to the stability, fairness and effectiveness of the firms, markets and infrastructure that together make up the financial sector.”
Additionally, we’ve seen the rise of sector-based initiatives like Women in Finance Charter, the Race at Work Charter and the Social Mobility Task Force. These initiatives focus on targets, transparency and accountability, exerting peer pressure to drive change. While larger, regulated firms may have a stronger track record when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion, smaller payment providers can still have a sizeable impact on the sector and ways of working. Their ability to serve a global customer base puts them in an excellent position, ensuring they can quickly pivot and implement or review DEI.
Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Finance
While siloed approaches are a thing of the past, there is still much work to be done if financial service providers want to mature their programmes and efforts. Collaboration and meaningful connection are at the forefront of the DEI approach. An inclusive culture must be established from the top, filtering down to the rest of the organisation.
Here are six ways payment providers can do to help promote diversity and inclusion in the finance sector:
- Identify Requirements
A provider can improve its DEI by setting an agenda. By building an understanding of the company and its ways of working, an organisation can assess its current efforts. It’s essential to secure ‘buy-in’ from stakeholders and leadership, outlining values and objectives. While pledging support for greater diversity and representation is often the first step to implementing an effective programme, transformative change can only happen when the pledge matches the investment in resources, training, transparency and accountability.
- Execute Strategy
Once you’ve agreed on your organisation’s vision, you’ll need to implement it. Introduce training across teams, promoting safe spaces and meaningful dialogue. Consider setting up a mentorship programme. Everyone must complete training to promote awareness of unconscious biases and how the halo effect impacts how we perceive others. This training supports recruitment and onboarding to build a DEI programme.
- Continuously Review
Once you’ve established and executed a strategy, ensuring it is embedded in your approach, companies should measure and monitor diversity and engagement. While measurements can change from business to business, metrics should show an improvement on a yearly basis. Companies can improve their resourcing strategy by introducing more objective, transparent, and inclusive talent reviews. They should also consider implementing a sponsorship programme to support the career progress of underrepresented colleagues.
- Internal Reporting
Financial services professionals must ensure their departments align with their firm’s vision and strategy. The strategy should be embedded to ensure that businesses are moving forward in a positive way. Employees should be encouraged to speak up when they witness bias at play, ask questions and challenge others to drive positive change. Consider providing employees with an internal reporting channel that provides anonymity to reporters. Alternatively, certain employees may prefer to make reports in person.
- Share Successes
Highlight your DEI achievements within and outside your company. If your organisation has made improvements, take a moment to share your successes and reiterate them. These improvements will not only inspire employees but will also encourage teams to build on previous achievements. If a strategy has been implemented effectively and businesses are in a position to celebrate and publish their DIE efforts, they can lead by example. However, these successes do not guarantee that future efforts will be as effective. Keep engaging, reviewing and reiterating programmes, ensuring that employees attend regular training and give feedback.
- Attract & Retain Talent
Today, employers’ policies on diversity, equity and inclusion are vital determinants of whether or not to work for a company. Companies that consider and welcome all backgrounds help create a more effective workplace. A well-defined programme will help attract and retain talent. Besides moral and ethical considerations, DEI programmes are shown to increase revenue and profit. However, leaders must monitor these programmes paying close attention to any change in percentage. As companies create a DEI culture, staff retention will increase, helping improve overall productivity.
Specialist payment providers should monitor the maturity of their programmes. Low maturity signifies that a company and its leaders have more work to do. Leaders must continuously promote and champion DEI culture, highlighting the benefits it can bring to the company culture and ways of working. They should ensure the right language is used across teams to build a comfortable environment that welcomes people from all backgrounds. Ongoing training will ensure that teams at firms and regulators have the vocabulary and skills to lead open and constructive conversations about sensitive subjects and design effective solutions.
Nonetheless, one of the biggest obstacles remains limited data. Data not only inhibits the quality of research on diversity, but it also means that companies rely on members of underrepresented groups to highlight the problem and design solutions. Pay gaps are another obstacle in the finance sector, which pay audits may help to address. Finally, there still needs to be more diversity at senior levels. This challenge can be addressed with better access to mentorship and sponsorship, helping accelerate careers.
Find out more about PayAlly’s allyship programmes here.