Supporting diversity, equity and inclusion at Nova Credit

Our mission “to inspire and facilitate the flow of human diversity” is based on the premise that the world thrives on the movement and collaboration of people.  We’ve built our values on this idea and focused on technology that makes it easier and fairer for a global community of newcomers to the U.S. to get access to financial services.  That’s not enough.  The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery were a forceful reminder to us that even with our stated mission, we must be  proactive and responsible agents of change.  Today, we are publicly sharing our team’s commitments to advance an inclusive workplace and fintech industry.

The starting point for our plan has been an honest and open look within.  In our own industry, financial services has long had a troubling relationship with ethnicity and race.  The dramatic exclusion and violence towards Black Americans historically through redlining has created lasting inequalities today. Black and Brown Americans continue to be subject to discrimination, have access to only more expensive or cumbersome financial services, and are disproportionately represented in the unbanked/underbanked segment.  The technology industry as a whole also has a history of under-representation of BIPOC talent, with dramatic, discriminatory consequences in terms of biases or product development

With this context, we spent several weeks in conversations as a team to develop a sustainable framework and set of actionable next steps we can take as a company.  We’ve broken our efforts into four focus areas for the remainder of 2020, with a set of specific objectives for each.

1. Inclusion: listening and learning about anti-Blackness

Novans are eager to grow and we recognize that the starting point for action in anti-racism lies in learning and developing a shared vocabulary about how we can each make strides to foster an inclusive, anti-racist environment.  

Some specific end-of-year objectives include: 

  • Listen and learn as a company.  In the coming weeks, we are facilitating a set of company-wide conversations on racial equity and social justice.  This includes creating space and opportunity for informal employee-led conversations, as well as a series of dialogues and workshops facilitated by Equity Based Dialogue for Inclusion (EBDI), an external leader in the DEI field and also a Black-owned enterprise. 

  • Create a sustainable Allyship Network.  We have created a formal, company-sponsored Allyship Network as a forum for active education and engagement. The Allyship Network will be an ongoing means to curate content and promote future anti-racism initiatives and opportunities.

  • Elevate Black voices.  We pride ourselves on an ad hoc speaker program that has featured a diverse group of industry leaders, including Black leaders or speakers on financial inclusion and its impact on Black communities.  We will continue to recommend diverse participants for Nova Credit panels and industry events, as well as develop new means for spotlighting Black achievements and voices.   

2. Diversity: improving our recruiting of Black and Latinx individuals 

As we look to grow the diversity of talent in our company, we are making foundational investments to ensure that we are able to attract and identify the best talent, regardless of background. 

Some specific end-of-year objectives include: 

  • Improve Black and Latinx representation in our applicant pool.  To increase the number of qualified Black and Latinx applicants for Nova Credit career opportunities, we hope to strengthen our partnerships with the Black and Latinx communities locally in San Francisco and New York while also establishing our own university recruiting program aimed at developing long-term relationships with young talent to support the recruitment of Black and Latinx professionals across every stage of their careers.

  • Revisit recruiting approaches.  We’re championing equal opportunities for all applicants by reviewing processes in all areas of our recruiting funnel. These steps include adding new procedures to ensure no applicant is hired without being interviewed by a diverse panel and continuing existing processes to avoid bias or exclusion, such as reviewing job description language for inclusiveness and maintaining clear, objective rubrics for cultural and competency assessments.

  • Measure our progress. We solicit voluntary surveys from applicants and employees to ensure that we can measure and hold ourselves accountable to developing a workforce more representative of our broader communities. 

3. Equity: setting up all Novans to succeed, regardless of background 

We are revisiting some of our key operational practices to foster equitable opportunities for all and to address areas where we may have defaulted to approaches that favor more privileged backgrounds.  

Some specific end-of-year objectives:

  • Revisit decision-making approaches.  We have engaged the entire team on a review of our internal decision-making processes to ensure that as we’ve grown, relevant voices continue to be heard (especially those that may be less likely to speak up), team members are empowered to move fast and that we are making the best decisions we can as a company. 

  • Increase professional development opportunities.  We are also creating additional resources and stronger guidelines to support Novans in their professional development.  These include more structured tools and training for conversations around growth, mentorship and how to best make use of our existing professional development budget.

  • Ensure equitable compensation practices.  Last year, we reviewed our compensation practices and developed an updated methodology that centers on objective benchmarking and avoiding individuation or bias.  We will continue to base our compensation decisions on this approach and look for additional opportunities for improvement as part of our annual compensation review. 

4. Engagement: ensuring we all share the load 

We seek to build a culture of allyship and ownership, where those of greater privilege also step up for the inclusion and equity of others. 

Some specific end-of-year objectives include: 

  • Foster industry-wide accountability. We’re proud to have joined the Fintech Equality Coalition, a collection of companies seeking to actively fight racial inequality and better serve underrepresented groups within our industry.  The group is a starting point for holding our companies and industry accountable for enacting real changes.

  • Set expectations across the team.  We’re calling on our entire team to engage in DEI efforts as part of their professional development and will consider individual progress on “Nova-building” initiatives in compensation and promotion reviews.  Additionally, the entire leadership team will engage in trainings to ensure long-term learnings on allyship and addressing systemic inequity are incorporated into strategy.

  • Be transparent in our commitments and progress.  Finally, to hold ourselves accountable, transparency in our commitments and our progress is of paramount importance.  That’s why we’re publishing this description of our plan and will continue to share data and progress updates with our team and with the community going forward.    

We cannot be true to our mission without doing more to achieve racial justice and equality.  This plan is Nova Credit’s start—but only a start—on our commitment to achieving this goal.  We are committed to continue listening and continue to take action as we all seek to combat racism and inequality in our society.