Article

The Win-Win of an Inclusion and Diversity Programme

Marta Izquierdo

Head of European Marketing

IG

IG is famous for pioneering spread betting but less well known for the example it sets to other fintech companies in its commitment to fostering a culture of inclusion and diversity in the workplace. Here, Marta Izquierdo, Head of European Marketing, explains IG’s strategy, its features and the benefits to both staff and the business

The fintech industry, as with any other sector, faces a gender and diversity challenge. Recent research has shown that women only make up 29% of the people who work in the industry, while those women that do find work there often go on to face discrimination in terms of pay, career progression and representation in the board room. But the picture is changing and, although progress is slow, a growing number of companies are working to eliminate the barriers that prevent minority groups from moving up the career ladder.

One of the big problems in fintech is the lack of representation of women at the higher levels of companies. Fortunately for me at IG, this is not a problem, where I have been lucky to find that they are a diverse and inclusive company. It is IG’s stated company policy that “a well-managed and diverse workforce brings creative energy to our business”, and it is quite telling that our chief executive and chief marketing officer are both women. Also, I have just been appointed as head of European marketing.

Glass ceiling

Having women represented at board level is key to helping the careers of other women in the company, and so break the so-called ‘glass ceiling’ that prevents them from being appointed to the highest roles in the company. Women are well represented in the marketing sector as a whole, in particular at entry level, but as you go up the company hierarchy the number of women tends to fall away. But representation also helps other minority groups, such as LGBT+ and the race and ethnicity groups. Seeing someone in a senior role who looks like you and feels like you is inspirational and empowering, as you feel that with hard work you too can achieve that success.

Power of networks

It is also important that companies foster an inclusive culture. IG is committed to supporting people from diverse backgrounds by encouraging the creation of global employee networks, such as IG Open, IG Black and IG Inspire, which is a women’s network. Each group has executive sponsorship, a formalised annual plan of activities and dedicated funding, all to encourage people to develop their careers and benefit from a variety of learning and development resources, ranging from on-the-job coaching and mentoring to webinars, secondments and Board exposure programmes.

Diversity and inclusion are, yes, the morally right policy for any company but, more than that, they are also right from a business perspective. In your work as a marketer, you will know that your audience is not homogenous, and it makes perfect sense therefore to bring different perspectives and experiences to the table, and so bring the best possible marketing experience for your diverse range of clients.

Make your pitch

So, what to do if your company does not have a culture of commitment to diversity and inclusion? This is where you can deploy your well-honed communication skills as a marketer to get buy-in from senior management. You have to pitch your ideas to them, explaining why the company needs a culture of diversity and inclusion, and setting out the benefits this would bring.

The support of the senior management can come in the shape of funding, which is useful, but much more important is their actual involvement, attending meetings or taking part in the events you have organised. Then you also need them to blog about their involvement, not just once, but many times, as part of a sustained communications strategy. In this way, the network is seen to have the support of management, gains credibility in the eyes of company staff and ensures the success of the group.

Go for it

Many women suffer, as I did, from the impostor syndrome, of feeling unqualified and that you’re not the right person for the job. Fight against this: if you want the job, and you think you are ready for it, go for it. Don’t think that just because you’re a woman or you are black this will count against you: most likely you will be one of the few to apply and that makes you more interesting to the hirer. If you know your craft, then you will be able to explain how marketing needs diversity because the client base and the audience are not homogeneous. What you can bring to the table is your experience and knowledge, making your marketing and communications more authentic. You never know: you could be the missing piece in their hiring puzzle. If not, at least your managers will know you are interested in taking on new projects and challenges.

Tips on how to set up a work group network

  • Get in touch with networks of other companies to get advice.
  • Establish a group like-minded individuals and allies, but be inclusive even within the network: for example, a women’s group should also have men.
  • Set up a committee, to help out with the work involved in managing the events, the micro-site, writing the newsletter, administration, etc.
  • Devise a communications plan using social media to advertise events and activities, write articles and to seek support from senior management.

This article is based on an interview, available on podcast here