Fintech companies are beset by racial inequality on all sides: They serve predominantly white customers, are understaffed by people of color, and are led by mostly white, male faces. Robo-investment firm Betterment is aiming to change that by spearheading the Fintech Equality Coalition, a working group that will address these many endemic problems.
“Change is needed across the board, and that includes our own industry. If we aren’t changing these inequalities, then we’re just perpetuating them,” says Jon Stein, CEO of Betterment. “Creating this coalition is the first of many steps needed to enact real and much-needed change.”
Twenty-one fintech companies say they are committed to the plan so far, including Money Lion, Cadre, and Credit Karma. The group’s mission statement is notably blunt and damning, acknowledging a raft of problems, including:
- services inaccessible to Black customers
- minimal industry discussion of Black-related topics
- panels and events that do not include Black participants
- too few black employees and leaders
- very few Black-owned or Black-led businesses
The new effort calls on member companies to publicly publish plans of action and provide regular updates on their progress. Companies have also agreed to specific actions, such as not participating in events without diverse speaker lineups.
“I know firsthand how critically important it is that we seize this moment of social awakening to implement long-term, systemic change that creates access rather than obstacles,” said Ryan Williams, cofounder and CEO of Cadre. “Those of us in the financial services technology industry have a special understanding that social and economic justice go hand-in-hand. These initial efforts are the first steps on the long and essential journey towards economic equity for all.”
Stay tuned for more on whether these efforts bear fruit.