October 26, 2021

Over the last few years, many companies have addressed or ramped up their commitment to DE&I, implementing initiatives, setting targets, creating employee groups, and hiring dedicated D&I personnel.

In episode 11 of IYB by Get-Optimal, Nadia Edwards Dashti – Chief Customer Officer at Harrington Starr – acknowledged that “the level of interest and change regarding DE&I over the past five years has been phenomenal.”

Nadia told host, Daniel Fellows: “When we founded Harrington Starr [a global specialist in Financial Services Technology and Sales recruitment] in 2010, I was a huge advocate of trying to get the conversation around DE&I to the forefront but these weren't words our clients were using.

”It’s been incredibly positive to see that we are talking about DE&I but this is why I now say that it’s time to walk the talk.”

During the 20-minute episode, the tech recruitment veteran revealed that “my mission right now is partnering with people across our industry to change the perception of the financial technology (Fintech) and financial service industry and attract those who wouldn’t think of a career in the industry but also to help us, as an industry improve.

”We need to authentically be inclusive rather than say we are inclusive without the policies, procedures, actions, and loyalties that are needed. It’s been a fascinating journey – helping clients make the change with lasting results.”

Host Dan couldn’t help but wonder “what do you think is making people say now is the time to make the change around DE&I?”

Nadia said: “I think finally people are making the connection between success in their business and real inclusion. Historically companies could not understand that their success was linked to DE&I. They had DE&I on their agendas in board meetings, but often at the bottom as the last point.

”Whereas now DE&I is number one on the agenda because companies are realising that if they want to increase productivity, they need to have staff who are happy and engaged day in and day out. And for people to want to give their all, must feel included.”

The co-founder and managing director of fintech recruiter, Harrington Starr, who is in the middle of writing a book called The fintech women who walk the talk: Driving change for workplace gender equality was keen not to get carried away stressing that “there are still businesses that haven’t made the change.”

Nonetheless, Nadia struck an upbeat note when talking about DE&I in the Fintech and financial service industries because both “are steeped in change and always challenging the status quo and pivoting. There are so many in these sectors who have been agile and managed to pivot and build products that the world needed.”

Dan wanted to know what we can learn from companies leading in DE&I? In response, Nadia shared how “lots of businesses are reaching out and saying they are setting up a DE&I committee. [...] The fact that these organisations are deciding to bring these committees together in a space of safety – doesn’t matter what your title is, speak your truth – is a phenomenal change.

“Others are recognising how important language is and trying to reduce bias – this is a smaller step but every small step takes us further forward.”

Touching on these steps, Dan heralded the launch of DE&I committees but reminded listeners that this “doesn’t mean job done and you can go off to the golf course. DE&I has to permeate every part of your business.”

Catch episode 11 of season two of Inside your Brand over on Get-Optimal’s YouTube channel.

Nadia Edwards Dashti’s book The fintech women who walk the talk: Driving change for workplace gender equality will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in January 2022.