How to promote diversity & inclusion in the fintech industry?
The fintech industry in India has grown by leaps and bounds over the years and is now the third largest in the World after the USA and China. In an industry where growth is rapid and times are ever-changing, diversity and inclusion are key drivers for innovation and shaping businesses differently.
Diversity and Inclusion are no longer a new set of terms in the industry or in boardrooms however, there is a long way to go as we have just scratched the surface. Global reports suggest that only around 30% of the Fintech workforce is female, and the percentage grows steeper at the leadership level.
This clearly shows the gap companies need to fill at all levels. While most organizations across various industries have started working on their policies, there is a need for robust internal and external changes to bridge the gap.
The Financial services industry has primarily been a male-dominated one and it still reflects a major gap in present times. Studies suggest that women founders account for only 1.5% in the fintech space globally. Though the numbers are not very large, the sector has seen some steady growth in women representation. In India, there are 11 fintech firms that turned into unicorns last year, out of which 3 unicorns are led by women and many others are waiting to join the league.
It is time we focus our shift from conventional thinking to bring a change in the status quo. For an equal representation, organizations need to take steps across all levels of an organization from stem level to senior roles. Here are some steps that can help us answer how to achieve diversity and inclusion at the workplace.
Understand the root cause - unconscious bias
It's important that we as leaders, voice the unconscious bias that exists in our task force. This can be done by having a look at the current workforce representation and going to the depth of the policies. An unbiased work culture can be achieved only when there is perspective on current existing scenarios within the organization. Eliminating bias at all levels and making it a point to hear every voice can pave the way forward for an equal representation of resources across levels.
Organizations can leverage data to have deeper analysis and make unbiased decisions.
Revising hiring trends
For an inclusive environment, there needs to be a conditioning and systematic change horizontally and vertically across the organization. Organizations need to revise and include diversity as a key parameter when expanding teams. Hiring strategies and processes need to reflect this perspective shift. This will happen when we voluntarily lift, assess the applications, and be open to welcome resources who come from various backgrounds and geographies during recruitment. Remote work policies can also help turn challenges into an opportunity.
Leaders in the organization should also ensure to have a diversified hiring panel leading to have unbiased hiring and diverse teams. Having said that, skill should still remain a main parameter while deciding on a candidate.
Reports also showcase that fintech businesses usually receive lower applications from female candidates for most of the roles. This challenge can be addressed by promoting awareness of gender equality externally. Fintech communities should come together to campaign for a mind-set change.
Let's address the elephant in the room, where the room is the entire corporate arena where resources face the problem of unequal pay. Unless decision makers sitting at the extreme top of the organizations' pyramid, talk and act upon it, we will not be able to fix this issue.
It is imperative to use intricate and defined procedures in calculating the pay equity and bring a balance in the pay structure of resources at all levels. Resources should be paid based on skills and experience and not based on their gender, colour or the geography they come from. Organizations can set examples and help bring a parity industry-wide. This will in turn help companies retain top talent.
Diversity in the teams
A popular reason why organizations are looking at a diverse workforce is because of innovation and creativity. Multiple case studies have stated that having a varied and diverse team enhances ideation and leads to innovative business solutions. Leaders who are smart know the benefits of attracting and retaining a diverse team.
When different voices are heard, there comes a chance to diversify services, products and operation models. This practice also promotes individuality of a resource by valuing different opinions. In a fast evolving digital environment like ours, out-of-box thinking can help in coming up with quick and unique solutions, enhancing a brand’s business proposition.
Diverse culture - Diverse events
Today there is a need to not only have gender diversity, but an overall diverse culture celebrating ethnicity and varied backgrounds to emerge stronger together. India being a diverse land, has the opportunity to leverage the varied range of thoughts, team and culture.
To feel more inclusive, it is necessary we respect, connect and celebrate different cultures and festivals with our employees. Engaging with resources while observing cultural events can incorporate a feeling of belongingness. Being respectful, attentive, and observing such days is also said to have had an advantage over peers.
Change happens when we take the first step. Adopting these steps for a diverse and inclusive workplace can not only be beneficial for the present but aid the formation of a holistic workspace for the future. With proven research showing that diversity in business fosters innovation and improves the bottom line, D&I practices are pointing towards a success parameter for businesses. An industry-wide change and adoption can make a huge difference for times to come.