‘It Makes Us a Better and Stronger Organization’: How Money-Media’s Diversity Work Pays Big Dividends

After speaking about how their DEI efforts have transformed the organization both recruiting and retention-wise—efforts that won Money-Media a 2022 SIIA IMPACT Award—Dan Fink, managing director of the Financial Times company, spoke about the difference it also makes in the journalism they do.

“Our submission was based on how we have developed DEI among our staff, but that’s not where it ends for us. Money-Media is trying to be holistically a diverse organization. [Using] diverse sources in our reporting has been a priority. The editorial team has a committee that has worked and continues to work on these issues, supporting journalists’ efforts to build a diverse source network.

“It’s also about how you talk about this topic in your content,” Fink added. “All the companies that we serve are dealing with the same issues. They are trying to diversify their staff. They are trying to recruit and retain diverse employees, and this is a priority for many of the staff in their organizations.”

Money-Media will be sharing their secret diversity sauce in a Main Stage Showcase at our upcoming AMPLIFY 2023 summit in Washington, D.C., June 27-28—titled Measuring IMPACT: How Money-Media Is Moving the Needle on Diversity. Editor-in-Chief Hannah Glover will be headlining that talk. (Check out the full agenda here.)

It has been a six-year journey for Money-Media. Last year they hit a milestone of being over 40% ethnically diverse and almost half female. To foster this environment, they require elements such as: having at least one woman in every hiring process; being transparent with staff about company diversity metrics; posting openings on job boards that target diverse communities; building consensus among the management team on diversity initiatives; and launching an annual fellowship program for candidates from underrepresented communities.

In a Q&A conducted after winning the IMPACT Award, Fink spoke about the effort needed.

“It’s harder in some ways to diversify your source network because you’re dependent upon outside parties, and they may not always prioritize diversity the way we do. Nonetheless, saying to a PR rep, “I’ve spoken to so and so five times. Is there anybody else I can speak to?” at least gives you a chance that the next person will be diverse.

“I’m not personally a journalist, but our journalists are developing techniques they can use to try and diversify their source networks,” Fink continued. “Networking is another way, just being out there. Especially now, with in-person gatherings having been restarted, it’s easier to network deliberately to develop diverse sources.”

Here’s more from my Q&A with Dan Fink:

RL: How does the work you’ve done on diversity make you a better organization? We see all the numbers and know that it’s the right thing to do. But how do you see it play out?
Dan Fink: It makes us a better and stronger organization on multiple levels. On one level, there’s a huge body of research out there that says, diversity makes companies better because you have more viewpoints, and you appeal to a wider audience. That’s one way we benefit, especially as a news company, when you’re interpreting the events that take place in the world, and you’re reporting on them. On another level, valuing diversity is a societal force that affects an organization’s ability to recruit and retain people. Being a diverse organization makes it easier to recruit all people that value diversity. So, on a tactical level, we are also benefiting in our recruitment and retention of talented staff.

You mentioned a third level?
Yes, the third way [our diversity mission] has helped us is in a culture of responsiveness to staff. We survey our staff every year, and we take it very seriously. We have a very specific process that we use, so that we get a very high response rate and then take specific actions. It  was feedback from this staff survey six years ago that originally prompted our action on DEI. That’s the reason we are ahead of the curve. Being a company that responds to the priorities of its staff also supports a strong culture.

Makes sense. Have there been a couple of champions at Money-Media besides yourself? Or is it really just a total team effort?
It’s really been a team effort. There are certainly champions, but we made so much progress because the original champions turned into a very strong and well-functioning team effort across the board and a shared value across the organization.

How has your new commitment to remote work helped?
Robust, hybrid work has given us greater capabilities to recruit and retain diverse people. If you look at the data and research, very often it is talented, diverse people who don’t have the family wealth to support certain situations that companies have for a long time required. And so, we’re still focused first and foremost on hiring the most talented people, but having the ability to be more flexible allows us to hire the most talented people who may not have been able to meet our in-office requirements in the past. From gender to age to ethnicity, across the spectrum there’s a wide range of diverse factors. And the flexibility opens up the doors for a lot of people.

I’ve known you for a while, and I know this has always been important for you. But what gave you the push to really move the needle forward?
I would give credit to my staff. The feedback we got on those surveys was eye-opening to me. I was probably a little too idealistic in my mind and just believed the world was maybe functioning better than it was. But the feedback prompted me to take a closer and more deliberate look at the state of affairs, and it opened my eyes to the fact that much more needed to be done. When I started looking at what steps we could take as an organization, I found that there were really a lot of tools we could use to improve our diversity. And I became a champion of it myself. But it was my staff and the feedback that I got on those original surveys that prompted me to recognize that this was a bigger issue than I had understood it to be.

Can you talk briefly about your fellowship program?
We started it two years ago. It’s designed to bring diverse people into our organization and into the business journalism industry. We contacted professors from HBCUs and diverse universities with journalism programs, asked for candidate referrals, and presented to their students about business journalism and the benefits of a career in this field. They had told us that their students – like most people in that age group – have a relatively low interest in business journalism and felt that finance and the other industries we cover don’t seem relatable. They said their students want to cover social issues, sports, entertainment, luxury and culture. So we showed how impactful our work is to the economy and to the world, and to communities of diverse people. We created these two one-year fellowship positions for students right out of college. And we essentially give them the experience they need to be able to be hired in a permanent role here. The goal is that by the end of that year, the fellows will apply for and get a permanent position. But even if it doesn’t work out, they get one year with Money-Media and amazing training.

Sounds terrific. How has it gone so far?
Right now we have our second duo of fellows on staff. The fellowship positions are full-time with salary and benefits. They are one-year positions, and we have an internal program that moves the fellows around, so they work on different publications with different editors. They gain experience doing different types of reporting and develop a variety of skills. With the first two fellows, one moved on, but the other moved into a full-time position and is still with us today.

Thanks Dan. Again congratulations on the IMPACT Award!

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