Many people talk about the importance of DE&I (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion), but women are still underrepresented in the financial services industry.
Nadia Edwards Dashti co-founded the Harrington Star Group in 2010; is a financial technology recruitment firm with offices in London, New York and Belfast.
In addition to helping over 2,000 people find jobs, she runs a podcast series Fintech Nadia: DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) Discussion Share the challenges and successes of those driving equitable change in the industry. She is also the author of “Fintech Women Walk the Talk”.
As part of our January focus on advancing fintech, Edwards-Dashti shares his insights on inclusion in the workplace and some lessons from his podcast series.
As a recruiter in the financial services and technology space, I am uniquely positioned to recognize the debilitating issues facing most workplaces. It’s our people, how we invest in them, how we support them in their career growth, and how we create an environment. It truly embraces the diversity found in people. Gender balance is rarely seen. Ideas from all perspectives are rarely shared. And it’s rare to see diverse people living together for co-creation and success.
It is this lack of perspective and opinion that is holding us back. We have grown accustomed to select demographics of society making business decisions. Then select the same group of building products that should reflect the masses. This often happens without considering what the public wants or even who the public is. We do not actively endorse this. Instead, inclusion at work is often just an agenda quote, a solitary social media post, or a passive afterthought.
We share what we have learned from specific areas of the financial technology sector as case studies of how to drive inclusion everywhere. As this is the sector that has revolutionized our understanding and relationship with money, it will also transform our understanding of DE&I, leading cross-industry efforts to build a better workplace for all. You have a unique opportunity to do so.
My personal work on DE&I in Fintech can be captured by the phrase “Walk The Talk”. However, this is neither a concept nor a viable process that applies only to fintech. Walking the Talk is for all people and all organizations that want to embed a commitment to being more truly inclusive. It’s about listening, then acting, ending the notion of silent witnesses and raising awareness of the real barriers that keep DE&I from becoming the norm.
Walk the Talk powers the conversations on the podcast series The DEI Discussions. And taking inspiration from the extraordinary voices featured on the show, I want to share behaviors that everyone can adopt, regardless of where they are in their careers.
It starts with attraction and retention
The average tenure in the fintech sector is 13 months. And when companies try to address this, they often don’t ask the right questions and shift the blame onto people leaving the company or industry. No, or did not progress at the rate we expected. Are these statements fair or accurate?
Our understanding of retention needs to change. Staff retention should not only be about keeping employees in their jobs, but getting them into the jobs they want through education, challenges, stretches, training, promotions and promotions. What can your company do to cover this even at the interview stage? And what do they expect from you when they join your company? How can you tell the story well?
Allow for fair compensation, fair evaluation, and fair promotion
After nearly 300 podcasts, I can confidently say that the systemic problems we face in financial technology revolve around fair pay, fair recognition, and fair promotion. The winners of this are businesses that are fully transparent in wages that eliminate wage disparities between demographics. Not surprisingly, this also leads to fairer and more evidence-based decision-making about career choices, focused on better promotion criteria and proper recognition of work done. will be dropped. Regardless of how our brains are wired to believe so, the loudest person on the team isn’t always the right person to take all the credit for.
Be agile with a hybrid working policy
Rather than reluctantly sticking to working from home for a few days, the best business is building trust between managers and staff so that this model can succeed. These organizations train their manager not to have to sit next to her staff five days a week. Learning how to better recognize work completed and invest in training remotely has greatly increased productivity.
Consistent communication strengthens support and trust
Creating an environment of communication that celebrates, understands, listens, and thrives is key to employee empowerment. A precise understanding of the problems people face and the exciting heights they have reached creates an open community that can learn beyond first-hand experience.
Acknowledge that there is a problem.
For years, companies denied the problem existed. And when it is addressed, it appears as an empty policy that has not been genuinely and effectively acted upon. When we see this problem as a problem, it actually starts with all of us when we all decide it needs to be solved. Rather than holding marginalized people accountable and believing they can close gender pay gaps, ethnicity gaps, leadership gaps, social mobility gaps, and promotion gaps, the winners are all Invest in engaging people with solutions.
Winners are not only leaders, they are also advocates. They open the door for their mentee, put their name forward and have their back. Each person has their own desire for success, what it means to them, and the environment that supports that success. People who ask what they look like do just that.
To me, talking is more than just a slogan. It is a call to action, a way to own real issues and drive positive change through clear steps. There is no tangible action to feel and it is limited.
After all, inclusion includes everyone. My call to action: Give everyone in your organization a stake in advancing the standing of DE&I. Real change begins to happen once we accept that this is everyone’s responsibility.