At M1, we are a company driven by our mission to empower people to improve their financial well-being. Regardless of who they are or what they look like, we’re out to change how the world manages money, allowing people from all walks of life to build and easily manage wealth. Our vision – to be the leading 21st century financial institution – requires that we have strong contributions from all perspectives. And our core values, which include integrity, boldness and being team oriented, help define M1’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
To us, integrity means we do the right thing. We’d be proud if our actions are shared with our family, friends, and strangers. Everyone can count on us to act according to our values. Boldness means we want to do things of consequence. Make a difference. And being team-oriented is a commitment to making everyone feel welcome, trusting one another, and seeking out and respecting different perspectives.
While our mission, vision and values certainly capture our approach to addressing DEI at M1, we know they’re only meaningful if they are backed by real action. In June 2020, M1 Finance joined countless organizations in acknowledging that we were not doing our part to address the systemic racism, inequality and lack of diversity in our field. We rightly put a spotlight on a critical issue that deserved attention, and more importantly, demanded action. Now almost a year later, as we officially join more than 50 other companies in the Fintech Equality Coalition, we are excited to share progress to date and outline our commitment to what we have yet to accomplish.
In summer 2020, we started by establishing mechanisms to better understand the true extent of the problem and ensure all voices at M1 were represented. Specifically, we:
- Instituted a company-wide benchmarking survey to gauge M1’s understanding of DEI.
- Opened new channels for listening, feedback and ongoing discussion including company-wide Town Halls, Slack channels and anonymous employee surveys.
- Established employee resource groups dedicated to Internal Education, Community Involvement, and Diverse Hiring.
- Internal Education is meant to champion education for our employees in diversity, inclusion, communication and empathy.
- Community Involvement extends this effort to the community – specifically, the group wants to help with financial literacy in underserved groups.
- Diverse Hiring is to ensure we are sourcing M1 candidates from diverse groups, training our interviewers on their biases and ensuring an inclusive interview process.
We also acknowledged that our employee base did not reflect the diverse perspectives and demographics we need to be successful, inclusive and representative. We cannot achieve our mission to empower people to improve their financial well-being without a team that is representative of the demographics we serve. While we still have a lot of work to do in this realm, we:
- Partnered with external experts who conducted companywide empathy and implicit bias training to better equip employees with the tools needed to ensure fair and bias-free hiring practices.
- We also recently hired a Learning and Development manager who will specifically focus on DEI initiatives, building out M1’s internal education and training curriculum.
- Diversified our talent pipeline, with the goal of a more representative employee base at all levels. At the end of 2019, M1 had no Black employees. Now, Black employees make up 7% of M1’s team, a number that will continue to grow as M1 hires throughout the year. We continue to monitor and improve additional representation across different demographics, including gender. Women now represent nearly 40% of M1 Finance employees, up from 20% at the beginning of 2020. And we’re proud that 50% of M1 team members in management positions are women.
Finally, we know our efforts can’t be contained within the walls (or Zoom screens) of M1. To publicly reflect M1’s values and commitment to DEI to our users, the community, and directly through our product, we:
- Launched Community Pies, easily sharable portfolios that allow our users to invest with their values and financial goals in mind. M1 Community Pies feature groups of publicly traded companies led by Black, female, or LGBTQ+ executives and will be added to over time.
- Forged strategic partnerships with other like-minded organizations and fintechs, including the Fintech Equality Coalition.
We recognize our efforts to address the lack of diversity and inequity in fintech are just scratching the surface. While I’m personally proud of everything our team has accomplished in the last year, I know we have a long way to go. This includes adding a member to M1’s Board with a diverse candidate to ensure we have more representation at the company’s highest levels of decision-making and influence. We’re actively working on securing this candidate and will announce the news when it’s official. As we set our sights on growing to a nearly 300-person team by the end of 2021, I’m encouraged by the opportunity to build an even more diverse, inclusive and representative group of passionate M1 employees. I know M1 Finance will be better as a result.