EY - Jamila Abston

Jamila Abston is making financial inclusion a business imperative in NYC

With society’s renewed focus on racial equity, financial inclusion has become a must-have for banking and insurance providers. Financial regulators expect firms to use their technology and innovation dollars to solve for equitable access. Jamila Abston has been working with companies to develop a new way of doing business — for both their employees and customers.

Why does financial inclusion matter?

Financial inclusion means giving more people access to bank accounts, investment opportunities and insurance products so they can improve the lives of their families and communities. Among the communities that haven’t had opportunities to expand their wealth are underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, women, LGBT+ individuals and the elderly. These communities have sometimes had difficulty gaining access to financial products, but change has been accelerating since the events of last year.

How are financial services firms putting inclusion at the top of their agenda?

Finance executives are assessing the racial equity of their internal processes to see how well they are doing with the journey of a person, from when they’re hired to when they retire, or they choose to leave. They’re looking at recruitment and retention, education and training, and promotion policies. Our clients are also expanding traditional corporate assessments to include more specifics on gender, culturally diverse people and different educational backgrounds. They are also reviewing their products and services to ensure they promote and create access and equity to underserved communities. 

What are businesses doing to support positive change?

Companies are developing policies that guarantee diverse candidates are interviewed for each opportunity, as well as diverse interviewers are involved in every process. As promotion opportunities arise, they’re making sure a diverse person is in the pool. “There’s nobody qualified; there’s nobody available” is no longer an excuse. Every part of the business is involved in these changes, from ensuring diverse suppliers are employed to seeking diverse leaders for board seats. Diversity of opportunity and thought will help create more inclusive financial products and services and ultimately open doors to a new era of business. 

Jamila Abston is an FSO Americas Financial Services Risk Management Partner with Ernst & Young LLP (US).





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