Building a Diverse Workforce from Seed Stage
I know what you're thinking: the accompanying image to this post hardly represents diversity. I'll tell you what it does represent though.... Scott Tindle and Max Rofagha are the brains behind London-based Finimize, and are huge advocates of having a diverse workforce.
Unlike many start-ups in today's FinTech industry (which as a result of the intersectionality of the two sectors, i.e. finance and technology, faces far greater diversity challenges), Scott speaks to SheCanCode about why Finimize are prioritising diversity early-on. In my time I've heard many start-ups argue they are either too young, too busy or too strapped for cash to make diversity a priority; and funnily enough its always the ones with the highest growth (e.g. Peak), loads of experience under their belt (i.e. HiperFabric) or with the most support (Finimize just closed a £450,000 funding round backed by Passion Capital) that tend to contact me at the early stages of their business to ask for help on how to diversify.
This picture represents two men who are paving the way for diversity in technology by being intentional, thoughtful and responsible; not because they need to comply with rules or conform to pressure, but because they believe that it is an 'imperative business decision' that will allow them to reach their target market more effectively. Here's a start-up to watch, or better yet, work for.
Scott, over to you.
Finance and technology are, perhaps, two of the most imbalanced fields when it comes to gender diversity. I experienced this in finance where, despite I’m sure what were the best efforts of management, the trading floor remained overwhelmingly male. When I moved into the startup world 18 months ago, the lack of gender diversity in certain areas (predominantly development/tech) was equally as stark.
Undoubtedly, there are numerous theories as to why this is the case. Clearly, it’s crucially important to make industries accessible and desirable to every different type of person from the earliest possible opportunities (which is one reason why organisations like SheCanCode are so important). But as a busy co-founder of a fast growing startup I, for better or worse, can’t spend much time contemplating the why. I need to hire people now! And I want a diversified workforce.
Diversification is good for many reasons but one major, practical one is that it naturally makes the team more representative of the people we serve. Just as hiring a young person gives a company an edge on making their product more appealing to a younger crowd, hiring a female creates product input that makes our products more appealing to females. The last thing we want to be is some macho-sounding finance company. In fact, females are more likely to undertake financial planning than men and, in a typical household, it’s the female that usually takes responsibility for the planning aspect of the family’s finances. Since we’re building a financial guidance platform, it makes a tonne of sense to have females be an integral part of the team that are building it.
This is what I think is interesting about this whole issue. We don’t want diversity just because our team photo looks more P.C. and we can tick a box – we want to hire them because they will make our company better! It’s an imperative business decision.
But herein lies the problem. Finding females to hire is difficult (especially for a tech role). In previous hiring rounds, males have outnumbered females by a factor of more than 10:1. A recent computer science graduate I spoke with said she was one of three females in her cohort of more than a hundred people. The message to young females has to be that there are lots of jobs for you in tech – you just need to put yourself in a position to get them. I hope more and more females consider proper computer science, tech, coding, etc. training as there is a challenging, fulfilling, vibrant and fun career waiting for those that do.
Scott Tindle is the co-founder of London-based fintech firm Finimize.
Finimize publish a daily financial news email that covers the two most important stories of the day in just 3 minutes and with no financial jargon. It’s sophisticated yet accessible format has helped the company grow to over 60,000 users. Finimize has recently completed a seed fundraising round led by Passion Capital and is in the process of building a personal financial guidance platform called Finimize MyLife.