DEI in FinTech: Diversity in a Desert

Sowing Seeds of Change: How Adaptive Promotes Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the Finance and Technology Sectors

Adaptive was created to be the kind of company its founders would like to work for themselves, solving challenging business problems, using the latest technology, and being surrounded by talented colleagues in a professional, collaborative and innovative environment. Bringing this vision to reality demands targeted strategies and unwavering commitment across the whole business. A pivotal area in this pursuit is DEI, which is widely recognized as essential for achieving optimal innovation and client satisfaction. Acknowledging the significance of diverse talent, Adaptive, as a global entity, has the transformative power to reshape financial markets while simultaneously being an exceptional workplace for all Adaptive colleagues.

However, a difficulty we face when trying to create a successful, diverse company is that Adaptive intersects two traditionally white male industries: finance and technology.

Diversity Imbalances in Finance and Technology

The global finance and technology industries have long been dominated by white males, reflecting historical imbalances in access and opportunities. In finance, around 81% of executive roles at major financial institutions are held by white individuals, highlighting the significant lack of racial diversity at leadership levels. Similarly, the technology sector faces a pronounced diversity issue, with 83% of tech executives in the US being white, and women accounting for only around 26% of the global technology workforce, as reported by the World Economic Forum in 2021. Recent regulatory developments, such as the FCA consultation paper CP23/20, propose a new framework for Diversity and Inclusion in the financial sector. These changes are poised to impact Capital Markets participants directly, signaling a shift towards recognizing the value of DEI not just as a matter of compliance, but as a strategic business imperative. For FCA-regulated clients, demonstrating compliance with these emerging D&I standards will soon become an essential aspect of their operational ethos.

Despite these regulatory advancements suggesting a brighter future for DEI in the industry, the reality remains that our current business operates within a "desert" of diversity, and crucially, Adaptive is no different at the moment from all other players in these markets. Recognizing this challenge, we acknowledge the need for substantial effort in our DEI strategy to align with our founders' vision.

As part of our commitment to DEI, Adaptive annually sponsors an employee-led Diversity and Inclusion Festival.

Adaptive’s DEI Festival 2023

The festival is a series of keynote talks from internationally recognised expert speakers, on various topics of the DEI agenda, held annually. 2023’s festival saw talks around LGBTQ+ issues, menopause, intersectionality, men’s mental health, accent discrimination, and harassment in the workplace, whilst past years' events have included unconscious bias, hidden illnesses, ageism, neurodiversity, toxic masculinity and many more. Topics are chosen by our employee-led diversity committee as well as through employee suggestions.

All talks at the festival share a common call for collective action. Notably, in 2023:

  • “Can a Drag Queen Change the World?” by Richard Mitchell showcased the transformative impact of drag queens, promoting diversity and inspiring authenticity.
  • “From Menstruation to Menopause: A Journey Everyone Can Support” by Kate Rowe-Ham & Dr Nighat Arif stressed the importance of understanding and supporting women and menstruating individuals through their life's natural phases.
  • “What if the Road to Inclusion Were Really an Intersection” by Sean Kelly highlighted the significance of embracing diverse identities in the workplace.
  • In "Men's Mental Health” by Paul McGregor the focus was on acknowledging men's unique challenges when it comes to speaking about mental health and fostering open dialogues.
  • "Every Voice Matters: Accent Discrimination” by Heather Hansen advocated for breaking the silence surrounding accent bias by promoting linguistic inclusion. Read the full article about Accent Bias and Discrimination, here >>
  • Lastly, "Getting Uncomfortable: Let's Talk About Harassment" by Animah Kosai emphasized the need for open communication and empathy to address harassment collectively.

Diversity & Inclusion: What we learned - What surprised us

These talks serve as catalysts, inspiring attendees to actively participate in the collective journey towards a more inclusive and equitable company and society. The emphasis on understanding, empathy, and active support resonates throughout the festival, reinforcing the idea that meaningful change requires a joint commitment from individuals, organizations, and communities alike. The shared vision is not just about acknowledging diversity but actively shaping an environment where everyone feels valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and experiences. In essence, the common call for collective action is a rallying cry for unity in the pursuit of a more harmonious and inclusive world.
DEI: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in FinTech Festival
It's intriguing to note the unexpected surge in popularity for certain topics, particularly accent bias and menopause. The heightened interest in these areas highlights a keen appetite for discussions that might not always take centre stage.Moreover, the remarkably high level of voluntary participation underscores a genuine hunger within the Adaptive community for knowledge and engagement. The enthusiasm shown by those who attended suggests a strong desire to actively contribute to the conversations and initiatives surrounding diversity and inclusion. This robust involvement speaks to the relevance of the festival content and emphasizes our commitment to collective learning and growth.As an organization, realising that our staff is hungry for more is a motivating factor. It affirms our dedication to delivering impactful content and prompts us to explore new paths and topics continuously. The commitment to doing more reflects our ongoing efforts to meet our staff's evolving needs and interests, ensuring that the Adaptive Festival remains a vibrant platform for meaningful discussions and shared insights.

Enough is never enough - what's next in Adaptive’s Diversity & Inclusion efforts?

While the annual sponsorship of this event is commendable, Adaptive recognizes the pressing need for more extensive measures. We're standing at a crossroads, acknowledging that our current efforts fall short. Yet, we're not deterred; we're driven by big dreams - to lead the charge in diversity within our industry. Talking the talk isn't enough for us; we're committed to walking the walk. Our vision is clear: we aim to cultivate an environment at Adaptive where everyone feels a sense of belonging and diverse perspectives are accepted and celebrated. We're ready to roll up our sleeves and make tangible changes. Our hope? That our actions will inspire others in finance and tech to join us in this journey. Let's forge ahead, paving the way for a more inclusive future hand in hand. While the festival serves as a positive initiative, it's also a springboard for us to pursue additional efforts and enact real change, transforming our workplace into one that reflects the rich tapestry of diversity. Together, we can transition our industries from a current "desert" of diversity to a vibrant, varied, and thriving landscape.

What's next for us? Leadership, action, and an unwavering commitment to making a real difference.



If you're as pumped about what's on the horizon as we are, and you want to be part of the Adaptive team, check out our current job openings by clicking here. Join us on this exciting journey towards a more inclusive future!

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