Christos Amyrotos – Change Management and Training Consultant, Netpremacy
Christos has previously worked as a Sexual and Gender Identity Trainer at Barnado’s, helping staff to become more inclusive of LGBTQ+ staff, students and their families. To celebrate Pride Month 2021, he’s put together some key things to understand about Pride and how we can all take steps to show our support for the LGBTQ+ community.
What is Pride?
Pride events are known around the world to be colourful, loud, fun and quite frankly a good day out! However, it is important to remember that Pride was not always about dancing and singing whilst wearing a rainbow top. Pride started as a riot in New York City in 1969. In the 1960s, homosexuality was still illegal in most of the United States of America and many LGBTQ+ people were arrested or brutally beaten when police officers would carry out raids in known gay bars. On 28th June 1969, however, outside the famous gay bar, the Stonewall Inn, in Greenwich Village, New York, for the first time, people said enough is enough and fought back against a police raid.
In the early hours of the 28th of June, the gay community of the Greenwich neighbourhood started a riot that lasted for five days and led to the creation of the gay liberation movement, which eventually helped to form laws to protect LGBTQ+ people. Stormé DeLarverie, a self-proclaimed ‘butch lesbian’ is known as the person who started the riots by resisting an arrest. Marsha P. Johnson was also one of the first people to throw rocks at the police officers during the riots. Marsha, a queer black person, unfortunately, had to identify as a drag queen even though she was a trans woman due to the stigma around trans people at the time. She was an activist, fighting for the rights of the community and today she is classed as a pioneer who helped the uprising of the gay liberation movement.
The following year, on June 28th, people returned to the place where the riots took place and proudly marched down the streets of New York. This was considered the first Gay Pride Parade. Today, June is considered Pride month to honour the Stonewall riots of 1969 with people celebrating the progress made for LGBTQ+ people around the world. It reminds the world that the fight is not over until everyone feels safe to express themselves freely. Pride events and parades are held annually all around the world with some of them such as NYC Pride and London Pride lasting a whole weekend.
Pride and Businesses in the 21st Century
Over the years, we have seen a lot of corporations getting involved with Pride, showing their support for the LGBTQ+ community. In the last decade or so, companies have celebrated Pride in numerous ways. By releasing special edition Pride collections with some of the profits going to LGBTQ+ organisations, getting involved with Pride events and making sure that they celebrate their LGBTQ+ staff. However, it is important that companies ensure that LGBTQ+ staff feel safe and valued all the time and not only during Pride month.
Here are some of the ways companies can help:
Encourage the use of preferred pronouns. In the last few years, we have seen local authorities and private companies beginning to add preferred pronouns to ID badges as well as staff email signatures. This is a big step towards making everyone feel included.
Pronouns, for many people, are assumed based on stereotypes such as someone’s name, the clothes they wear and the way they present themselves. However, for people who might be going through transition or those who do not identify with the pronouns they were assigned at birth, using the wrong pronouns can be a triggering point and very painful for them. Many people do not identify as male or female and they prefer gender-neutral pronouns such as they/them. Allowing people to use their preferred pronouns will help not only to raise awareness but making society more inclusive and accepting of non-binary and gender-fluid folk. Only in the last few weeks have we seen social media companies such as LinkedIn adding pronouns on people’s profiles. Although not mandatory, having the option to add your preferred pronouns on a social media platform like LinkedIn is a great step towards becoming a more inclusive society. Companies wanting to make their LGBTQ+ colleagues feel more welcome could definitely encourage the use of this on LinkedIn, in email signatures etc.
Take a clear, positive stance on equality and diversity. In addition to encouraging the use of pronouns, many organisations are taking a clearer stance on Equality and Diversity. Examples include using new application forms which allow candidates or existing members of staff more sexual and gender identity terms, so people can freely express the one they identify with. Giving people the chance to openly state their sexual and gender identity will lead to this becoming the norm where people can freely express themselves without fearing that they will be ridiculed or worrying about how to bring the topic up.
Across the globe, it is slowly becoming more acceptable to identify as LGBTQ+. However, there is still a long way to go to ensure that everyone feels safe and comfortable to just be themselves. Until then, it is important to remember that although Pride events are more colourful and peaceful in recent years, Pride started as a riot for a reason and we should try to support our LGBTQ+ colleagues however we can.
Flag photo by Cecilie Johnsen on Unsplash
Using data to make informed business decisions
Back in April, we brought together key players in the FinTech start-up space for a closed roundtable. CTOs, Heads of Data and Heads of Engineering spoke to Netpremacy and our partners at Looker and Google about data areas they wish to improve in their businesses.
We discussed the challenges that arise when using data to drive smarter business outcomes and how to address them. Here’s what we learnt.
What data challenges do leaders in FinTech face?
Despite a universal understanding amongst the group of data’s value and an appetite to use it to its full potential, several barriers are getting in the way of making this happen.
A lack of data transparency. Thanks to a wide range of data sources, environments and a reluctance to open up data to everyone, it can be challenging to centralise data in an accessible, meaningful way.
Getting started in making more data-driven decisions. Many companies have large amounts of data but are unsure how to capitalise on it and make educated business decisions based on their findings. There is pressure to do more with data, but the myriad of potential can be overwhelming.
Creating a data-driven culture. Even where there are data analytics tools in place, they are just part of the picture. How do companies make sure that end-users not only understand how to use the tools at their disposal but use data to drive what they do? How do they encourage everyone in the organisation to take a more data-centric approach to understand the business better and use insights to improve customer experience?
Driving adoption of self-service data. Data queries and requests to the technical team can cause bottlenecks and block gaining valuable insights in customer activity, product opportunities and more. How can businesses encourage non-technical users to discover these insights for themselves?
Modernising reporting across teams. Many companies in the FinTech space are struggling with updating the way that their teams are creating reports. The spreadsheet culture is still predominant in many workplaces. It causes a loss of data and leaves room for human error. It also slows down the reporting process due to the manual importation of data.
So, how to solve them?
Here are just some of the ideas we discussed with our panel, Looker specialist Colin Murphy and Matthew Yeager, EMEA Technical Programme Lead, Startup & VC Ecosystem at Google.
Get buy-in by solving the right problems and speaking the right language. As well as being Google’s EMEA Technical Programme Lead, Matthew Yeager has plenty of experience in the start-up arena, with multiple start-up successes to his name. His advice, when at the start of a business journey is to ‘ask yourself, what problem am I trying to solve here? For example, how can I manage my cash flow better? How would knowing more about my data help fix this problem? Use language that resonates across the business. You need to be able to describe problems and possible solutions in a way that appeals to the right people at the right time, from investors to the C-Suite, and everyone in between.’
Do your research. Don’t just rely on your data, use other research data sets to learn more. Google has a free open data set for you to go and explore. Finding out what people are searching for will help you produce a product that fits a gap in the market. Read what others, such as challenger bank Monzo, are doing with their data to get ahead.
There is no such thing as too much data, but stop waiting for ‘perfect data’ to get started. It is vital to have a working theory with a data set. The more data you have, the better and more valuable insights you are going to get. Throwing away data can harm your analysis and outcomes. However, waiting for the ‘right’ or ‘perfect’ amount is fruitless. Use the data you have right now, and keep collecting more to ingest and improve your model.
Let the platform do the work for you. Another piece of advice from Matthew was to stop trying to write ‘pretty code’. No investor is interested in machine learning code or how good it looks. Investors only want to know what problem you are solving. Save time by using tools to analyse data quickly.
Create a model that allows anyone in the organisation to gain data insights. Move away from a model where the technical team is writing a requested query to answer one question at a time by empowering the end-user and reducing bottlenecks with tools like Looker. For example, Monzo’s non-technical staff self-serve 85% of BI queries without consulting the data team with their BI solution built on Google BigQuery and Google Cloud Platform.
Bring non-technical colleagues on the data journey with you. Ease colleagues gently and at their own pace. Start an end-user with a dashboard, then go beyond that dashboard to build out their own visuals, insights and more. Train your new starters on tools like Looker so they understand data is as much a part of their role as their technical colleagues’. Be open to and appreciate their feedback and ideas, don’t be overly prescriptive. They will use data in a way a data engineer/scientist wouldn’t, but that can be where the real insights happen.
Integrate technical and end-user teams. Encourage a spirit of data-driven working and a feedback loop by bringing together technical and end-user colleagues. Technical colleagues can upskill and help their non-technical colleagues, and non-technical staff can give insight into the practical application of data insights. By working side-by-side, teams can work together to get better results for customers and the business, truly driving innovation.
As FinTech companies grow, so does the amount of data they are storing and collecting. This valuable, often untapped resource can be the difference between just another failed startup and a massive success. Using data to understand customer behaviour, predict trends and future demands is already the norm for forward-thinking companies.
Wherever you are on your data journey, there are plenty of powerful tools like Looker and Google BigQuery to support your company in accessing and gaining insights into data. However, as many are learning, the real challenge is company culture. Giving non-technical colleagues the technology they need is one thing, but pivoting to a data-led approach is a must if your business is seriously committed to being one step ahead of the competition.
Speak with the Experts
At Netpremacy, we have a plethora of experience working with hyper-growth companies, including Just Eat, Monzo and Deliveroo. If you’d like to get more from your data, our team of data engineers and infrastructure specialists can help. Our decade of experience in change management means that you’re in safe hands to make the cultural shift needed to change your organisation. Contact us for an initial conversation on your data strategy to start doing things differently.
Looker & Google Cloud’s data analytics platform provides more options to help you deliver more through the use of strong, fresh insights.
Monzo Case Study
Monzo refines and optimizes its fast-developing product with BI analytics based on Google BigQuery and Google Cloud Platform.
Photo by Essow from Pexels
Alastair Lumley – Digital Native & Finance Lead, Netpremacy
Last week I attended Google Cloud’s Financial Services Summit to learn from Google experts and others from across the industry on what the future holds for the Finance Industry. I discovered how Google Cloud is driving real change and helping to reshape the industry, from modernising more traditional businesses to supporting the challenger banks.
Straight from the opening keynote, Google made it pretty clear that Financial Services are a huge focus area for them. They are currently dealing with some of the largest financial institutions globally, including HSBC and Deutsche Bank. This experience is helping them to shape and evolve their cloud services to better meet the needs of the industry. This had led to them becoming the only cloud provider to develop focused and dedicated services for the Financial industry, two of which were launched at the summit – Lending Doc AI and DataShare.
Google also highlighted their three key focus areas within the financial industry; accelerating omnichannel experiences, using data and analytics to transform businesses and modernising core operations in banking and payments. These were covered in the different streams run on the day, including Banking, Capital markets, Insurance and Payments. We heard from Deutsche Bank on how cloud services have driven innovation, how PayPal used them to weather the Covid storm and how BNY Mellon constantly evolves, attracts the best talent and adapts to new challenges. You can watch the on-demand sessions here.
The key theme of the summit was how Cloud Computing is enabling the Financial Services industry to innovate and react to consumer demands and specifically how Google Cloud is the go-to strategic partner for the industry to drive this type of change.
One session I found particularly interesting covered how Google and HSBC are currently working together to make banking more sustainable and lower their environmental impact. Work so far included evaluating supply chains, identifying where they are most economical and sustainable and exploring ways to improve this. Taking experience from both sides of the table – a global retail bank with vast knowledge of supporting businesses of all shapes and sizes, and combining that with Google who understands how to problem solve using innovation….one to keep an eye on!
Another fascinating discussion was how banks are helping to improve the house buying process. The key learning was to avoid using technology for the sake of it and automate an existing bad process – we should use it to drive change. The house buying process is one of the most complex and emotionally stressful purchases you’ll ever make so a lot of focus is now going into how can this become more enjoyable and how can technology play a pivotal role in this.
There were many more sessions covered such as how we can activate a data strategy in insurance by leveraging Google’s products and its partner network to start and implement these projects, all the way through to how innovation in the financial industry can help innovation in other industries.
Financial organisations globally are leveraging cloud technologies to innovate and provide better solutions to challenges, better services to customers and become more economically and socially responsible. Google is actively helping drive this change and developing solutions focused on the financial services industry by engaging and supporting some of the largest institutions globally.
Each journey is different and will have its own goals and outcomes, but the opportunity for any organisation to transform and drive change is there. From using data to improve customer understanding, fighting against fraud and leveraging scalable cloud infrastructure to meet spikes in demands, what is important across the board is the correct support, partner and technology along the way.
That’s where Google and Netpremacy can help. By understanding what it is you want to achieve, helping define and build plans and strategies around the technology, you can reach your desired aims and objectives much faster, in a way that future-proofs your success.
To hear more about how to transform your organisation, or to register an interest in our upcoming roundtable for Financial Services, email me.