Fintech has opportunity to hire diverse workforce

Startups more likely than established firms to tackle diversity

Apr 2, 2019 @ 2:15 pm

By Bruce Kelly

Financial technology companies are in such a hurry to get work done as soon as possible, they may be overlooking an extradordinary talent pool, according to Jason Young, the CEO of Mindblown Labs, an education technology company.

Mr. Young kicked off the 2019 Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. diversity summit in New York Tuesday with his comments. He was interviewed by Finra CEO Robert Cook.

Is the business case for diversity and inclusion widely discussed at financial technology firms or startups, Mr. Cook asked.

"I don't think it's discussed nearly enough," Mr. Young responded. "However, I think there is a tremendous amount of opportunity."

Silicon Valley has been widely criticized for its lack of diversity in general. In recent years, large firms have issued diversity reports, revealing that women and minorities hold a lower percentage of the jobs at those firms.

Mr. Young noted that financial technology companies have an opportunity to have diverse workforces because many are still in their infancy, and conversations about diversity occur at young, small firms "much more than they would have happened at any large financial institution when they were at a similar stage."

"There's a lot of opportunity there but I think there is a lot more work that needs to be done before we fully realize that opportunity," he said.

A financial technology startup has "lofty goals" and its emphasis is on getting work done as soon as possible, he said. That translates into "a lot less emphasis" on job applicants' hairstyles, he said.

"The cost is just too high to discriminate, or even just to fail to provide the opportunities and the level of inclusivity that allows me to get not just the best people but extraordinary people that can help me get to the next level," said Mr. Young.

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