Last year, as companies across the country formed DCI plans and declared inclusion missions in the wake of public outcry over the death of George Floyd, executives at Dallas-based Apex Clearing, his parent company, PEAK6, and CustodyTM (a PEAK6 operating company), realized they had to do more.
The result was Fintech in Action, a new initiative dedicated to advancing the hiring, promotion and retention of black employees in the FinTech industry. Its founding goal was to accelerate progress, innovation and opportunities for students and professionals.
The coalition kicked off with 18 financial companies, community actors, and FinTech organizations and a $ 1.7 million investment from Apex. Their mission was to directly address pipeline issues in financial services and financial technology.
From the start, the initiative was based in Dallas, led by Executive Director Michelle Williams, who previously held leadership roles at Voice of Hope, Leadership ISD and The DEC Network.
One year later
Today, a year after its launch, Fintech in Action (FIA) celebrates its progress, while recognizing that there is still work to be done.
As the name suggests, this is an action-oriented coalition. The FIA’s plan was to prioritize racial equity in the industry by increasing the inclusion of black students and professionals and focusing on hiring, promotion and retention.
The group sought out like-minded partners who could accelerate tangible progress, forming collaborations to take concrete action to tackle systemic racism and create black equity in finance.
The organization claims to have honored this commitment, and more.
“The FIA has made incredible progress in its first year. While we have seen growth, there is a lot of work to be done to create economic equity for black students and financial professionals, ”Williams said in a statement. “This is just the beginning.”
To date, Fintech in Action has doubled its number of partners and participating companies and has served more than 250 students from four cities: Dallas, Houston, New York and Chicago. Current FIA partners and coalition members include Dallas-based GigWage, Indianapolis-based Givelify, Loop (led by Austin-based John Henry), and more.
The organization also invested $ 1 million in the Greenwood Project, a Chicago-based nonprofit that creates career paths in financial services for high-performing minority students.
The capital enabled Project Greenwood to increase its internship cohort by 160 percent. All the high school students who are part of the association are now negotiating several full-time job offers.
He takes action
“There is not a lack of talent in the black community, but a lack of opportunity,” said William Capuzzi, CEO of Apex Clearing, in a statement. “Together, with all the other members of the FIA coalition, we are investing in the future of what should be.”
Capuzzi says Apex wants to make its industry “one of inclusion for all who choose to make it their livelihood.”
“It takes more than writing a check. More than a social media post. More than words, we must act, ”he said.
The FIA says it is the only coalition to date to have achieved “considerable and measurable success” after the heyday of the Black Lives Matter movement. He considers the accomplishments of the past year to strengthen his participation as a resource for black talent in the industry.
From there, the FIA plans to continue adding more members to expand its programs and initiatives. According to Williams, this includes finding support from financial companies, community actors and others who can drive systemic change.
The focus will be on more location-based partners, those who can introduce internships, work placements, training and exposure to FinTech.
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