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Inclusion and Belonging Focus: Developing and Implementing Initiatives with Measurable Impact - Part 2

Kanarys Staff


In an effort to create more inclusive and equitable workplaces, the financial services industry has embraced a range of DEIB initiatives, but they must be undertaken on an ongoing basis with continued commitment and impact. These initiatives reflect a growing recognition of the importance of diversity in driving innovation, fostering better decision-making, and ensuring fair access to financial services. While financial firms are implementing various strategies to attract and retain diverse talent, cultivate inclusive cultures, and address systemic disparities, they must be done with metrics and impact in mind. Only then will these initiatives reshape the industry and contribute to a more diverse and inclusive financial landscape. 

Here’s a framework of inclusion and belonging initiatives that financial services firms can undertake:

The strength and longevity of any DEIB strategy requires having measurable results and impactful outcomes. That begins with leadership accountability and metrics. Making an impact means holding leaders accountable for fostering an inclusive and belonging culture within their teams and departments. Establish clear metrics and goals to measure progress and regularly report on diversity data, such as representation at different levels, promotion rates, and employee engagement scores.

Creating and establishing an environment of inclusion and belonging begins with self-assessments. The centerpiece for these initiatives, self-assessments present your employees with the ability to share more about themselves in a confidential space.​ This is to assist your team in finding ways to create areas of belonging as well as use the data to create conversation that would lead to more inclusive policies of these populations.​

Another area is employee resource groups (ERGs). These can provide a supportive community for employees from diverse backgrounds, but they need to be done correctly. These groups can serve as a platform for networking, mentorship, and professional development opportunities. ERGs can focus on various dimensions of diversity, such as gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, and more.

It goes without saying that training and education are paramount. Industries across the board can improve their training and education around inclusion and belonging, as 67% of the total workforce Kanarys’ surveyed reported their organization has done a good job providing educational opportunities that promote DEIB. Provide diversity and inclusion training programs for all employees to raise awareness, foster empathy, and promote inclusive behaviors. This training can cover topics such as unconscious bias awareness, cultural competence, allyship, and creating an inclusive workplace. Additionally, financial services firms can offer educational resources and workshops that focus on relevant topics that promote inclusion.

In terms of building and retaining talent, diversity recruitment programs are a given, and implementing targeted recruitment programs that aim to attract diverse talent is important. This can involve partnerships with universities, job fairs, and networking events that specifically target underrepresented groups. Firms can also establish relationships with organizations that focus on supporting diverse candidates in the financial services industry.

Conversely, mentorship and sponsorship programs can play a significant role in the retention, development and growth of your workforce. Develop mentorship and sponsorship programs that connect diverse employees with senior leaders who can provide guidance, support, and advocacy for career advancement. 69% of the total workforce Kanarys’ surveyed reported feeling adequately mentored or sponsored. These programs help address barriers and promote equal opportunities for underrepresented individuals within the organization.

One area that’s gaining more attention is pay equity and transparency. Conduct regular pay equity audits to identify and address any disparities in compensation based on gender, race, or other protected characteristics. Financial firms should strive for pay equity and ensure transparency in compensation practices to foster a fair and inclusive work environment. More importantly, pay transparency can help to promote perceptions of pay equity by creating a culture of fairness and transparency in the workplace.

Something that deserves more attention are supplier diversity programs: A diverse supplier is a business that is at least 51% owned and operated by an individual or group that is part of a traditionally underrepresented or underserved group. Implementing supplier diversity programs promotes the inclusion of diverse suppliers in the procurement process. Financial services firms can set targets or requirements for contracting with diverse-owned businesses and actively seek out suppliers from underrepresented groups. Having a supplier diversity program not only provides a way to better their community and support overall economic equity, but also gives them the opportunity to partner with businesses they might not otherwise engage with.

“Spread your wings” as they say, and internal initiatives that promote an inclusive environment can certainly expand to community engagement and philanthropy. By engaging with local communities and supporting initiatives and organizations that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, financial services organizations have the opportunity to actively share their beliefs and initiatives with others that extend beyond the workplace.

The financial services industry holds immense potential to drive positive change through inclusion and belonging initiatives. By actively embracing and implementing strategies that prioritize diversity recruitment, employee resource groups, training programs, mentorship, pay equity, supplier diversity, leadership accountability, and community engagement, financial firms can create inclusive workplaces that attract and retain diverse talent, foster innovation, and ensure fair access to financial services. Through these initiatives, the industry can not only transform its own internal dynamics but also contribute to a more equitable and inclusive society at large, ultimately strengthening trust, resilience, and sustainable growth in the financial services landscape.

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