Diversity is not only important from a social sense, but also a business sense. Studies show that diverse teams generally perform better, and lead to more profitability.
Why then do financial institutions often struggle when it comes to diversity? The answer could be that executives need to widen their professional networks, according to a recent op-ed in American Banker.
Author Malia Lazu argues that bank executives need to take deliberate steps and become more tied to diverse networks. “Listen to your bank’s managers and employees of color,” she writes. “A lot of a bank’s diversity sits in the branches. Management and employee resource groups can work to create a safe space for them to share their experience and ideas.
Employees of color are the experts in how a company can improve when it comes to race. Explore your company’s assumptions when using terms like cultural fit, relative experience and appropriate education. These could actually be a barrier to attracting and retaining talent.”
Lazu also suggests bank execs host listening sessions with people — customers, community leaders, partners — “who may not always agree with you. Constructive criticism and outside-the-bank thinking is what’s needed to innovate ways to attract and retain talent.”
By taking deliberate steps towards inclusion, banks and financial institutions can create more diverse — and more successful — organizations.