Diversity refers to a wide range of visible and non-visible characteristics; it’s about valuing variety, welcoming a range of backgrounds and opinions and embracing the benefits that differences bring. We believe that a diverse set of people on stage and in audiences will make events better.
That, in turn, can change our industry for the better.
Financial services and technology impact society as a whole. So the people talking about that impact should reflect society. If we want to change the world we need a good cross-section of humanity to help us chart the course.
What’s so important about events anyway?
Visibility matters. When you look at the senior ranks of our trade and see white men in suits, it says to those who don’t meet that description that this isn’t an industry where they can thrive and be a success.
Here’s some facts:
- According to a recent blogpost on Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI), “Of CEOs at venture-backed tech startups, only 3% are female; fewer than 1% are Black; and fewer than 1% are Hispanic.”
- According to Pitchbook, women only account for 2% of venture capital funding for their startups
- Just 7% of partners in the top 100 VC firms are women, according to research by Crunchbase
We need to change that. Being visible at events raises an individual’s profile, which helps them win that promotion or attract much-needed funding.
We want the best people speaking at our event. It just happens that they’re all white/male/straight.
Many of these events are organised by people who are not industry experts. So when they s look for speakers, they look at previous events, influencer lists, or they ask people who make noise in the industry. Those people tend to be overwhelmingly male. Who then recommend other men. Not out of some organised conspiracy, but because like recommends like. Then the next conference is filled with the same type of people and the cycle continues.
I hate quotas. I don’t want to be the ‘token woman’ on stage. Nor do I want to go to events where some people have only been invited to make up the numbers.
The Pledge isn’t about imposing quotas. No one wants to attend an event to listen to people who do not add to the conversation or offer insights for further discussion. All speakers should be considered for speaking slots, with that criteria, no matter what their background. The purpose of the Pledge is to nudge organisers to cast their net a little wider and look beyond the ‘usual suspects’.
Diversity and inclusion don’t lower the bar – they raise it. When you have to compete with a group of people from a wider set of environments, and not just with your own tribe, then you’ve got to up your game. More people from different backgrounds brings greater diversity of experiences and knowledge, which is more interesting for those in the audience too.
This is a distraction. We should be focusing on getting more women into the boardroom.
You can’t decouple the two. Being visible, having a high profile, being an industry ‘name’ – these are the things that open doors for people, help them to take that next step in their career, or to gain investment to grow their business. Get women and other underrepresented groups on the stage and you help them to find their place at the top table. And, importantly, this is something you can do something about – starting right now.
A study by McKinsey found companies which commit to diversity are more successful. Giving female and minority ethnic talent the mic at our industry events can help to build a diverse pipeline of leadership talent. That’s good for everyone.
We want FinTech to be better. Making events better is one small way we can do that.
Convinced? Sign the pledge.