Nurturing Diversity, Never Settling for Less
Our team is constantly learning more about what it means for our product to serve everyone. We firmly believe that our work to create and promote housing affordability will always be intertwined with the reality facing Americans. Today and historically, Black Americans and members of other marginalized groups face a reality of structural disadvantages that create barriers to participating in the Fintech industry and fully benefitting from Fintech products. This is our pledge to do more to break these barriers down. We’ll do more by acting in meaningful and direct ways, and taking an honest look at what needs to change within our organization. Like the other members of the Fintech Equality Coalition, we are ready to understand and deconstruct our role in upholding a system that yields different options based on identity and has never been designed to uplift Black voices or careers.
In the last three years, we’ve seen hyper-visible outcomes of systemic racism against Black people and other BIPOC in the forms of mass conflict and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, a travel ban that targeted faith, the separation and confinement of thousands of families and children at our borders, and police brutality against Black people that has placed our country under an international microscope. These are not new issues by any means, they’re just now showing up on camera. These past three years have seen every marginalized group pushed further towards the margins. Enough is enough.
This systemic racism has touched Fintech uniquely in that technology-based financial solutions have always been billed as a way to democratize access to important knowledge and actionable solutions. Education around financial management is a key step to social mobility, but today the average Black household holds one tenth of the wealth of the average white household. Black Americans are twice as likely to be denied credit than white Americans.The average white American family has 31 days of liquid savings on hand, while the average Black American family only has 5. Fintech was supposed to be the solution of all solutions, one that created true equality. We as an industry have not delivered yet.
Looking Inward-Our Current Demographic Information
If we’re going to get better, we have to be honest about where we are today. We believe that any legitimate effort to confront systemic challenges faced by BIPOC communities must start with transparency. We’ve chosen to disclose where our demographics stand in hopes of providing an example to our industry and increasing accountability across organizations large and small. As of this writing, Rhino is 78 people. Our co-founders are two white men and two South Asian men. Our senior leadership team is made up of four white men, one white woman, and one South Asian man. Our total employee demographics broken down by gender and race can be found below:
What this means
We’ve got lots of work to do. We’ve set goals not only to increase the number of BIPOC employees on our team to further reflect the diversity of this country and our home of New York City, but to also increase the number of BIPOC employees in leadership positions. Additionally, we’re pledging to audit our professional development practices to understand how we can elevate more women to leadership positions within our organization. Out of eight current director positions, one is filled by a Black employee. Out of our 22 current manager positions, 16 are men. Out of those same 22 managers, every racial identity is represented except for Black. In a country where Black people make up 14% of the population (27% of the population of New York City), we must do better. We’re also prioritizing geographic diversity and understanding how we can respect and cultivate remote work communities in their most inclusive form.
With that being said, we know we can do better. We’re still a small organization. What excites us most is that by taking action now, with a team of 78 people united in this goal, we have the chance to see true progress by the time we get to a team of 500. And while it’s odd to feel like we’re getting a headstart on work that is long overdue in the larger picture of this country, our entire team is committed to making the change within our organization first.
How we’ll address this
Admittedly, this work is still in progress. Part of our commitment to the Fintech Equality Coalition is the continued reporting of our progress in regards to these initiatives to other organizations who have opted to collaborate on a shared accountability system. We think this reflects the true nature of this work as ongoing, living, breathing, and heavily reliant on collaborative learning. Here are all of the things we’ve done, are doing, or will do:
- Monthly convening of members of our team to hear feedback related to identity-based experiences at work
- Employee led ‘Courageous Conversations’ anti-racism workshops
- Opt-in Slack channels solely dedicated to inclusivity in the workplace
- 1:1 workplace accountability partners
- Establishment of Employee Resource Groups
- A full audit of current hiring practices that includes diversifying recruiters and platforms leveraged by our team
- Hiring-specific implicit bias training
- Understanding and exploring how “identity-blind” hiring can increase diversity
- Incentivizing employee referrals that create diversity on our team
- Tailoring education and experience requirements to socioeconomic realities
- Employee mentorship “Oxpecker” program
- Maintaining equity as a core value of career path planning and individual development
- Establishment of function-specific subcommittees to address organizational blind spots
- Commitment to diversifying our external consultants
- Professionally led team-wide implicit bias training
- Providing resources and education programming around the history of racism in our industry, multifamily housing
- Ongoing commitment to nationwide public policy work that protects financially vulnerable renters, including the successful passage of Renter’s Choice legislation in Cincinnati
- Providing opportunities to volunteer and get involved outside of Rhino-related work
- Matching employee contributions to Black Lives Matter, The ACLU, The Advancement Project, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and more change-oriented organizations
Before we put our heads down and get to work on the steps we’ve outlined above, it’s important for us to note the difference between variety and diversity. To us, achieving variety is not success. Having different types of people in the same space is not enough. What we need is different types of people who sit at the same tables, who work together, who share stories and experiences with one another, and who have access to the same opportunities no matter what they look like. We are prepared to leave status quos behind to do this because true diversity is creating a workplace where there are no outsiders. Creating and protecting diversity is not only the right thing to do, it’s a differentiator. Diversity brings wide-ranging viewpoints that jumpstart innovation, challenges old ways of doing things, and connects us in a genuine way to all of the communities we aim to serve with our product. That is what will set us apart. Stay tuned for more from Rhino.