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DLA Piper gets a head start on diversity

Recently at DLA Piper Tower in Auckland, a high-powered panel discussion was held on the ‘Future of FinTech Leadership’, for Techweek19.

We know that new models will up-end the way we do business. Disruption will revolutionise financial services offerings. This is where the other ‘D-word’ on everyone’s lips enters the frame. What does diversity mean in the Financial and Capital Markets Sector? How does it apply to customer-facing processes, transactions and ever-more-interactive software?

“It’s to do with the people we do business with,” says DLA Piper Partner Katie Carson. “This is the New Age of demographics, and customers are changing, globally and locally. From 2038, people from Māori, Pacific and Asian descent will make up more than 50% of the population. But right now, the boards of our big institutions reflect the society of their founders. That society is disappearing.”

"We need to bring ‘cognitive diversity’ into sectors,” says Katie Carson. “People who can use both the left and right sides of their brains in this new era. One example, given by panellist Carmen Vicelich, is someone in a technical software coding role. They may be outstanding at coding, but lack empathy for the product end-use of their work. The FinTech sector (as well as Law) needs to reach a much more diverse group of people."

A useful new way of regarding diversity was described at our discussion: instead of a ‘cultural fit’ when hiring, look for a ‘cultural add’. That cultural add has a cognitive benefit – it introduces a constant injection of fresh perspectives.

“Diversity is everywhere, inclusion is not. We are actively looking at ways we can address this at DLA Piper." says Carson. DLA Piper believes diversity initiatives need to be more than quotas and buzzwords. Sectors including FinTech can leapfrog into where the future market awaits. “The key,” says Katie, “is recruitment: getting people on board (not just on your board) who will improve your offering as well as build a better society.”

Katie Carson leads DLA Piper’s FinTech initiatives in New Zealand.

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