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14 steps to make any business more diverse and inclusive

By Valerie Moran of PFS, a FT 100 BAME Leader in Tech

Diversity and inclusion topics took centre stage ahead of the recent 50th annual World Economic Forum gathering at Davos 2020. World Leaders were joined by delegates at the annual think tank in Switzerland. Startling figures from the World Economic Forum suggest it could take 99.5 years for the world to bridge the current gender gap.

Ecomm’s Valerie Moran photographed in the Solstice Art Centre, Navan. Photo: Barry Cronin

It’s difficult for me not to feel a responsibility toward the fintech sector’s statistics as a FT 100 BAME leader in tech in the U.K. The latest performance indicators in the industry from RBR London show that in Europe, spending has grown to €3.9 trillion annually on payment cards, the industry in which my company operates. The U.K., France and Germany lead the growing tendency toward these digital payment methods. I expect growth like this will come with a growing number of business development and employment opportunities for women in financial technology.

Let’s not wait almost a century for real progress. These are the steps I followed to hire more women and ethnic minorities.

  1. Implement a “come to work as you are with no labels” mentality across every level of the enterprise and get all departments involved.
  2. Fintechs worldwide should recognise that, as Deloitte explains, diversity and inclusion statistics are not where they need to be in the sector. Encourage boards to change their thinking on this topic to enhance your company’s competitive edge.
  3. Choose employees based on their qualifications and never based on skin colour or the nature of any diversity.
  4. Encourage and recognise the differences among your employees.
  5. Open your mind to the idea that diversity can be good for business: 2017 McKinsey research found that “companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams were [21%] more likely to experience above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.”
  6. Create an environment where cultural variety and neurodiversity are celebrated and where diverse teams can share their ideas.
  7. Cultivate a collective mindset, vision and passion for your industry as personal strengths in your company.
  8. Truly wish to see more inclusion in the world.
  9. Nurture change, and avail of every opportunity to get your message to a wider audience. I have found speaking engagements to be an excellent way to spread messages as, invariably, there will be several journalists in the audience who will report on the event.
  10. Always start with education and implement robust training modules in the organisation around diversity and inclusion.
  11. Treat diversity as a growth strategy. I’ve observed a direct correlation between an enhanced presence of diversity and inclusion and an increase in revenue year over year.
  12. Encourage the next generation of change makers in society and the government to make their world a more equal place.
  13. Consider why minorities may not be in high-paying jobs and what you can do about it.
  14. Encourage and give your support to mentoring programmes, and allow different departments to become involved. This has been a hugely rewarding experience for me since I heavily implemented this model in 2017.

Initially, after I finished school, I thought about nursing and radiography as career options. My parents convinced me otherwise. I went on to study several programming languages and became a systems analyst. It is fascinating to see how STEM employment increased by an incredible 79% between 1990 and 2018 in the US.

I believe the diversity and inclusion debate and STEM are inextricably linked. In 2020, more than ever before, there is an opportunity for leaders to make a significant impact not just in fintech, but also in multiple industries. Let’s face it: Fintech as a whole is far from being a leading light in the diversity and inclusion conversation globally. According to Deloitte, about 5% of the founders of companies selected for the 2017 FinTech 50 were female. For many years, I was often the only woman or person of colour in the room. More than anything, I have discovered that people are gold and every employee in fintech should be encouraged to reach their potential and to treat their section like a mini-business. In my experience, when you encourage everyone in an enterprise to be entrepreneurial, this creates a very dynamic and diverse environment filled with ideas, creativity and camaraderie.