Diversity in Payments: Not Just A Tick-Box – It Makes Business Sense

04 July 2019 By Adam Hall

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In the fast-changing payments industry, diversity has never been more valuable or crucial. We review the state of diversity in payments, and make the business case for further change.

Workforce diversity has become a very popular topic of discussion in the last couple of years, with many high-profile stories in the news about organisations who are not inclusive, or, worse still, those that show bias towards certain demographic groups.

The truth is that diversity in the workplace is a critical business issue. It’s not something to just pay lip service to for the sake of company reputation, or purely to address ethical obligations (although those obligations are undoubtedly important). The diversity of people in an organisation can be a key contributor to business success.

In the fast-changing payments industry, we believe that diversity has never been more valuable or crucial. 

The advantages of a diverse workforce

A 2018 report from the Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD) on “Diversity and Inclusion at Work” highlights some interesting insights on the business case for employing people from a range of different backgrounds:

  • “Diversity can provide tangible and intangible benefits to the organisation, for example, employing workers with different cultural and language skills can lead to greater reach for the business…

  • “heterogeneous groups can contribute more creative ideas to the mix and give your business a competitive edge…

  • “and employers can offer more solutions to customers because of new ideas and processes brought into the organisation.”

The CIPD also argues that employee diversity can improve productivity, boost employee morale, enhance reputation and help attract and retain talent by showing that they are open and inclusive as a business.

These findings are supported by a report from McKinsey & Co published which showed that companies in the top 25% for ethnic diversity were 33% more likely to achieve profit above the industry average, more ethnically diverse boards were 43% more likely to outperform on profits and those in the top 25% for gender diversity were 21% more likely to achieve profit above the industry average.

The state of diversity in payments

In the face of such compelling evidence on the value of diversity, we must turn inwards to assess how the payments industry measures up on this issue.

The European Women in Payments Network (EWPN) recently published a diversity whitepaper based on a survey conducted earlier this year – and the results are revealing! Among the key findings were:

  • 59% do not feel the industry does enough

  • On the subject of imbalance in pay or career opportunities:

    35% regarding level of education; 30% due to age; 20% due to race and 23% in relation to language.

  • 88% felt a more diverse workforce

From first-hand experience, we can say that we’ve seen some improvements in diversity in the industry over the last couple of years, it’s safe to say that there is still a long road to travel to reach the right balance. The figures from the EWPN survey show that there is a strong recognition of the value of diversity, but that as an industry we need to gain more distance from the traditional origins, recruitment practices and perceptions of the banking sector.

Improving diversity in payments

Today’s broad and varied payments world requires broad and varied skills, with people from all walks of life. Many payments businesses are in the process of transforming themselves in the wake of legislation and technology developments, to ensure they remain competitive.

To do this, they need to think differently, adapt business models and evolve organisational structures to allow for the right mix of talent.

It’s worth understanding where to look for the most in-demand skill-sets (including overseas) and assessing what sort of leadership will help drive the company forward into the new era for their business. Casting a broad net in the recruitment process is vital, but employers must also balance this with a clear view of what – and who- they need. Talent mapping both internally and externally can be a very valuable process in supporting these aims.

And, of course, this isn’t something that companies can do once and say “great, we hit our diversity targets – we’re done!”. The payments industry is changing at an extraordinary pace and so will the resourcing demands of each company, as well as the available talent pool. Talent forecasting and working alongside specialist payments recruitment provider can help payments businesses to keep up (or even ahead of) the tidal wave of change and ensure the right mix of talent stays in place as the evolution continues.

Lastly, payments companies need to consider working practices and environments that directly support diversity. This may include flexible working options for parents, allowances for religious practices and other means of supporting the needs of their employees. This will be an important factor in recruiting and retaining talent, as well as maintaining productivity levels.


If you’d like to know more about how Headcount can help you access a more diverse talent pool, contact one of our expert consultants.