As more and more investors ask companies to share the information reported to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, the realities of workforce representation of minorities and women are gaining new attention. For many firms and businesses, including those in Chicago, increasing participation by Black and Latino workers in tech jobs is a top priority.
Google, for example, has 1,200 workers in its Chicago offices; African Americans make up 2.2 percent of technical jobs. Latinos make up only 4.8 percent of these jobs in the tech-giants national employment base.
The executives at Chicago firms say they have all seen the benefits of diversity in their staffing schemes. A healthy sharing of opinions, constructive debates, and meaningful exchange of best practices are only some of the positives that come along with expanding the hiring base. Unfortunately, not all Chicagoans are optimistic. Carlton Gates, an African American recruiter for Yum! Brands based in Chicago, and a former employee of Oracle and Google, says the tech-verse has been “talking about diversity for 20 years, and not a single thing has changed.” According to Gates, there is a tribal vibe on engineering teams, where little to no cultural or ethnic crossover happens.
With all this in mind, local companies with open tech vacancies are looking for new resources and pipelines to identify talent. They are also taking measures to modify the interview processes to abate bias and address issues that might be unique to minority populations.
Deloitte and the Global FinTech Hubs Federation recently ranked Chicago among the top five global fintech hubs. FinTEx Chicago has been advocating strongly on its behalf and as such its fintech and financial services companies now comprise 14 percent of the 50 fastest-growing companies in the region.
Fintech – a double-sided industry comprising technology and innovation in an effort to compete with traditional financial methods vis-à-vis the financial services they offer – is a great way to bolster employment. Given that the financial sector has the capacity to positively affect job growth, Chicago is looking good in that area now as well. Indeed, according to a recent report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, year-over-year employment in the region’s financial sector encountered a 3.6 percent jump (which is more than double gains in the next highest industry).
When you see this kind of increase in jobs, it is also testament to the level of savviness among citizens. Startups need more than just one genius at the top. They require solid, committed workforce which is apparent in Chicago.
One example of this comes from Alain Glanzman and what he did with his startup, WalletFi, when he took it to Chicago’s second Financial Technology Accelerator program. He was told by executives in the financial industry (from banks and credit unions) at the FinTech accelerator that if he targeted financial institutions, the company would more likely be successful. As such, he changed the direction from it being a mobile app to a real company!
One aspect that makes Chicago’s fintech unique is that it features startups as well as veteran firms. And they are codependent with established firms relying on fresh out of college engineers.
This is what Chicago is doing. This is how fintech is revolutionizing the business world there.