Despite FinTech being a modern industry, the gaps within the sector concerning LGBTQIA+ communities are evident now more than ever; last year only two Chief Executives amongst FTSE 100 companies were open about being LGBTQIA+.
The barrier to promotion or advancement for gay and lesbian professionals is so prominent, one-third of LGBTQIA+ employees have hidden or disguised their identity to avoid discrimination at work.
But FinTechs have an opportunity to set a precedence and become an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community. We explore why diversity in this sector is so important and how these disruptive banks can be more inclusive.
The Opportunity For FinTechs To Be Better
Diversity has been a continuing battle for the financial sector. Despite support for the LGBTQIA+ community making giant strides, there are still pay discrepancies between heterosexual and homosexual employees. Research found that LGBTQIA+ female-identifying workers were ‘at the bottom of the list’ regarding both expected and received salaries.
This is why FinTechs must begin to actively promote a culture of inclusivity and strive to create LGBTQIA+ policies that allow a diverse workforce to thrive. These policies and cultures are directly linked to higher company value and profitability.
Christer Holloman, Founder and CEO at Divido, is an openly gay FinTech leader who realised his leadership lacked the very thing he describes he is meant to be ‘good’ at. He believes change must start at the top, accepting that a more prescriptive process may take longer.
“I understand how far diversity was from my mind when I was trying to raise money and hit revenue targets. That’s why founders and teams need someone or something external to challenge them and keep them accountable at the earliest possible opportunity.” Christer Holloman, Founder and CEO at Divido.
Why Diversity Is Necessary
The diverse representation within FinTech is crucial to create products and services that align with the modern world. Encouraging entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds can address gender, cultural and ethnic divisions in the provision of financial services.
Having an inclusive and diverse environment allows for a wider perspective to be integrated when brainstorming, problem solving and developing new business ideas. Not only is there data to suggest diverse businesses are more successful, but consumers also want to be mirrored in the companies they engage with, creating loyalty and long-term value for businesses.
“LGBT business owners always have been an essential part of the engine that makes the US economy run and therefore deserve an equal place at the table”, Justin Nelson, Co-Founder and President of National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC).
Shining Daylight on LGBTQIA+ Equality
Led by LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs Rob Curtis and Billie Simmons, Daylight is the first U.S. fintech specifically designed for and by the LGBTQIA+ community. Their goal is to bridge the gap towards equitable banking, connecting members to the right financial management tools, insights and best practices from LGBTQIA+ experts.
“This feels like the most important work that I’ve ever done because we’re solving a problem for a community that I am a part of and a problem that I myself have experienced”, Billie Simmons, Co-Founder and Chief of Staff.
Many support groups also champion a diverse and inclusive tech environment.
With the tagline, “Queer, Inclusive and Badass”, Lesbians Who Tech is the professional network for LGBTQIA+ people working in tech. Committed to visibility, intersectionality and changing the face of technology, over 40,000 leaders joined their virtual Summits in 2020, making it the largest LGBTQIA+ professional event globally.
Out In Tech is the world’s largest non-profit community of LGBTQIA+ tech leaders, connecting 40,000 members with the tools to advance their careers, grow their networks, and leverage tech for social change. With a mission to ensure all are seen and heard, they envision a tech industry where LGBTQIA+ people are empowered and well represented.
How Can Businesses Become Better Allies To LGBTQIA+ Community?
Most LGBTQIA+ employees do not feel truly included in the workplace. But there are many ways to grow a culture that is inclusive of this community.
- Develop clear policies – companies are now developing zero-tolerance policies on homophobia, biphobia and transphobia discrimination. Go the extra mile to include LGBTQIA+ specialised benefits, such as appropriate healthcare coverage and equivalent spousal benefits such as adoption/surrogacy support.
- Provide training – training is used as an effective way to educate everyone on LGBTQIA+ issues and identities. This should be supported from the top, with consistent messaging, practical tools, questioning bias and real-world opportunities to put the training into practice.
- Set up a network – create a safe place for LGBTQIA+ colleagues to meet up and share opportunities and challenges in their day-to-day working life, improving issues that directly affect those within the community.
- Champion visible role models – appoint authentic leaders to promote and support LGBTQA+ inclusion. FinTechs need to make visible commitments to LGBTQIA+ equality through speaking at events, writing internal communications and sponsoring ally programmes and the LGBTQIA+ network.
“Role models are important in the tech sector to embrace a way of working that isn’t dictated by standardised norms. If you do not see your identity represented in your industry, the net effect is one of not being welcome, which is dangerous for personal career development and the progression of the industry as a whole”, Becky Butler, Sales Development Team, DueDil.
When an environment is created where anyone can be themselves, performance is sustained and individuals thrive. If you are looking to grow your FinTech to be more diverse and inclusive, get in touch. Not only are we a trusted partner to help you along the recruitment process, but we can also connect you with our network of highly skilled, diverse talent.