D&I: How to go from words to action
Whilst fintechs are in the forefront with regards to innovation, they are behind when it comes to diversity and inclusion efforts. A group of MBA students from London Business School (LBS) helped one fintech to start to change that.
The London Business School MBA students behind the project (from the left to right): Massimo Attinà, Maria Macarena Cossa, Maria Gabriela Zarama Gonzalez, and Nir Duek.
According to a report from Candidate X, only 16% of fintechs have a BAME (Black, Asian, and minority ethnic) CEO and almost none have a woman of colour as a CEO. Another study from Deloitte Insights states that the global fintech founder community is still dominated by men, with women making up just 7% of the total pool.
The good news is that a number of organisations are making strides in the right direction to increase awareness about the topic with several Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) initiatives being launched: Hotwire launched F in Fintech, a global initiative to tackle the lack of diversity in fintech; the Fintech Diversity Radar is the first global platform gathering progressive data on women in fintech; Women in Finance is supporting the finance industries in their mission to move the dial on diversity and inclusion.
A more hands-on example is how LBS helped one fintech find four MBA candidates to help them become the sector leader in D&I by developing an actionable strategy and a two-year initiative roadmap. This was done through LBS’s LondonCAP programme, where students get to work on real life business challenges.
The team analysed the industry’s efforts and the global best practices of the leading players in D&I to learn what are the initiatives and the policies that can help drive such change. One of the main outputs of these studies is that the model of a successful D&I strategy engages and involves all the employees across levels, increasing employees’ contact with women and minorities, and tapping into their desire to look good to others. Furthermore, they also found that a D&I strategy can only work if they engage at the core of the business, its culture and values.
Following the global best practices analysis, the team analysed the D&I as-is situation at the fintech. The analysis was a useful exercise that helped to develop three main learnings, applicable for any fintech planning to formulate a D&I strategy:
Communication is key
- The firm had a lot of awareness about the importance of D&I for the company at the senior level; however, juniors were not aware of it.
- To ensure successful strategy deployment and junior staff involvement, companies should communicate, internally and externally, their D&I values and objectives.
Culture vs. design
- According to the employees, D&I is going in the right direction in the firm. However, when asked the reason for it the most common answer was “luck”.
- This highlighted the difference between culture and design. Although a good culture is needed to make a D&I strategy successful, a clear set of policies, rules, and procedures ensures that D&I remain the focus of the firm even in case of cultural shifts or change of people.
The importance of meritocracy
- The last point was about the importance of meritocracy in the workplace. When people understand and agree on a clear promotion policy, they tend to feel more included. This also applies to recruitment, where the need to remove or limit biases and have a diverse set of interviewers can help reach that goal.
After the benchmark studies and the internal analysis, the LBS team developed a series of 17 prioritised initiatives and assigned them to an 18 months timeline to help the project implementation.
The D&I strategy was submitted in May 2021 and is expected to generate the first tangible results by the end of the year already, when five to eight initiatives are expected to be completed.