Let’s talk about Diversity
Joe Roche / 10th November 2020
Diversity is quite rightly being talked about a lot across the world at the moment, including within the FinTech sector.
Having grown up in Leeds, itself an incredibly diverse city, and having attended an inner-city state school, I have always found myself part of many cultures and involved with people of varied backgrounds and upbringing; be that celebrating religious festivals or carnivals, playing football, or listening to live music or talks.
It was therefore distressing to find myself working in sectors which struggle with diversity. First business support services working with directors of UK companies, then legal services working for a global law firm, now in FinTech working for FinTech North. All of which had and have their own struggles with diversity.
Why is diversity important? It’s important to inspire; to highlight success, say to the next generation that you can achieve great things. It’s important for leadership; nothing ensures the right business decisions like a leadership who think about business problems differently to each other. It’s important to represent the society in which we live and work together.
As Engagement Manager, it’s part of my job to ensure that we have as much diversity as possible across our speaker line-ups, however regrettably I find that this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Reaching out to organisations for speakers to populate our FinTech events sometimes causes me dismay, all too often speakers nominated, and therefore those likely to be senior representatives, are white males.
It’s important to acknowledge my own failings here; that my own network could and should be more diverse. I have worked in business development across the North for 4 years, looking back at that time there is definitely more I could have done to engage and network with more diverse groups. Doing exactly that is a change I will make to my own approach going forward.
In the medium to long term – if FinTech North can platform more diversity, then hopefully more people will be inspired to pursue a career in FinTech, and diversity in the sector will improve.
How can I address the issue in the short term? We have plenty of events coming up, including open opportunities for businesses in the North West to participate in our Virtual Manchester Conference. Reach out and help us make our events even better!
FinTech North is and always will be an open and collaborative events platform. In the past, FinTech North has hosted a dedicated Women in Tech Forum and our Chair Chris Sier has spoken at length on the topic of Diversity in FinTech. However, it is certain that we need to do more, and to do that we need to pull together with the industry to address the problem. To borrow a resonant phrase when it comes to championing diversity and inspiring the next generation; you can’t be what you can’t see.
We want to hear from women working in FinTech and running FinTech businesses. If you are a FinTech, or an organisation working in the Northern FinTech ecosystem, and you have a story to tell on diversity – we want to hear from you. If you are a Northern FinTech business owner of ethnic minority descent, we want to hear from you. If you work in FinTech and identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community, we want to hear from you. If you have a relevant business or initiative you are working on, we want to hear from you. Please reach out, please get involved with FinTech North, help us meet this issue head-on and continue to inspire future generations.
I’d like to share with you an article written by Tech Nation’s Jem Henderson; https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/doing-diversity-inclusion-right-jem-henderson-she-they-/ – Doing Diversity & Inclusion Right. Jem’s article eloquently summarises the state of play with diversity within UK Tech, and contains some brilliant statistics that inform the business case for ‘baking in’ diversity.
Joe Roche, Engagement Manager, FinTech North