We're hearing a lot about diversity and inclusion these days with them becoming important words in our industry's boardrooms.
It's not only because global financial regulators are demanding improvements to companies' agendas in this area - which they are increasingly doing - but it's also because firms are realising too that diversity, equality and inclusion (DE&I) improve their business.
DE&I is something that I'm passionate about, but I'm also a firm believer that it should not be a box-ticking exercise that's designed to appease regulators.
Instead, it must be an integral part of an organisation's culture because the business case for it is so strong.
Innovation & Productivity
Our industry is evolving at lightning speed, with tech now at the core of almost everything we do. Fintech has shaken-up the entire sector and has already re-shaped how financial services are delivered. This evolution is only going to gain momentum in the coming years.
A diverse and inclusive team is key to driving innovation and creativity, and guiding business strategies to meet the shifting expectations of a changing marketplace.
Multiple different voices lead to new ideas, the development of new services and products, the ability to diversify operations and models, and to promote out-of-the box thinking.
All the research backs this up. One top-tier report by Deloitte suggests that when people feel supported, heard, and included, their ability to innovate skyrockets by 83%.
This, of course, helps differentiate a business from its competitors and can help win new clients.
Meanwhile, a study by the Academy of Management finds that diversity in upper and lower management results in greater employee productivity, whilst firms with less diversity and inclusion were also less capable of "making good business decisions, absorbing information, and obtaining a competitive advantage."
Increased productivity means the business can develop and grow in a shorter period of time compared to others in the same space.
Recruitment and retention
If the business has diversity and inclusion as a core feature of its culture, then when it comes to finding new talent there is a significantly larger pool. It will not be about recruiting "a certain type of candidate," instead focus will be on the skills a person can bring and contribute, meaning only top talent will be hired.
It will also help with employee retention. When team members feel that their individuality is valued, they will typically remain with the organisation and enthusiastically contribute to the mission and vision of the company.
DE&I has huge advantages for business on an internal level, but perhaps most crucially, it benefits existing and potential clients. This is because a wide-spectrum of values, genders, races and ages will innately help with building better relationships - which is what our business is all about - as we promote the business effectively to those who have similar backgrounds with the intended target audience.
The business case for diversity and inclusion is clear. It means more and better innovation, increased levels of productivity, more opportunities for recruitment, higher levels of employee retention, and a better grasp of our clients' needs and wants.
In short, it's not about ticking a box. It's about competitive edge. And it's also the right thing to do. It's a win-win every time.