Lorna Martyn, Head of Technology, Fidelity

8th November 2021

This week Lorna Martyn, Head of Technology for Fidelity Investments Ireland and WMB Diversity Ambassador highlights how ‘Role models are incredibly powerful catalysts for progress. Seeing what is possible inspires us to reach further, dream bigger and make aspirations achievable’.

Please describe your role at Fidelity Investments Ireland.

I am Head of Technology for Fidelity Investments Ireland leading over 1000+ technology professionals who develop superior quality innovative technology solutions for the Fidelity business.

I am also co-regional leader for Ireland where the regional leadership team are responsible for all aspects of running the business in Ireland including talent development for 1400 associates, associate experience, our brand and the day-to-day operation of the business in the region.

Can you put into context, the size and scope of Fidelity for our readers?

Fidelity Investments is one of the largest and most diversified financial services companies with an unmatched combination of products and services. It was founded and is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts.  Our mission is to inspire better futures and deliver better outcomes for the customers and businesses we serve.

Privately held for 75 years, Fidelity Investments employs over 52,000 associates worldwide who are focused on the long-term success of our customers.

Fidelity focuses on meeting the unique needs of a diverse set of customers: helping more than 38million people invest their own life savings, 22,000 businesses manage employee benefit programs, as well as providing more than 13,500 institutions with investment and technology solutions to invest their own clients’ money.

As a WMB Magazine Diversity Ambassador, how important is it to have role models?

Role models are incredibly powerful catalysts for progress. Seeing what is possible inspires us to reach further, dream bigger and make aspirations achievable.

Each of us who have benefited from the ground broken by others have an obligation to share that knowledge, break down barriers, provide experiences, advocate for others, and enable the next generation of role models who will in turn perpetuate further role models.   At Fidelity we call this ‘paying it forward’ and it is core to our culture.  The impact of role models is also the inspiration for my “Be What You See” video series on LinkedIn.

Research reveals that the crisis has affected women disproportionately – How necessary is it to focus on inequality in any recovery and resilience plans?

I’ve read a lot of research also that demonstrates the disproportionate impact of the Pandemic on women in terms of losing jobs but also needing greater flexibility due to greater demand on them for childcare, elder care etc.

I believe companies are now at an inflection point ­­­– how, where and when we work is changing.  This is a unique opportunity to design for inclusion in all practices and policies.

For example, greater flexibility and hybrid working may benefit women and other diverse populations (e.g. neurodiverse, differently abled) in ways that the traditional office didn’t support. Similarly, research around managing hybrid and fully remote workforces is highlighting greater needs for many leadership traits that are often regarded as more feminine (e.g. empathy, humility, resilience, create psychologically safe culture etc..) – skills that were referred to as ‘soft skills’ are now in my opinion ‘essential skills’ and a great opportunity for women to come to the forefront of leadership in greater numbers.

Why is diversity and inclusion important in your business?

Fidelity serves a diverse customer base in the US and ensures strong connections with the communities where we operate worldwide.  There is a clear business imperative to have an employee base that is reflective of our customer base, and to understand our associates who, in many cases, are Fidelity customers too. The company has grown through ongoing innovation in its’ 75-year history and the research shows that diverse teams are more innovative and diverse companies are more profitable.  Fidelity’s customers are multi-generational and our products cater to the needs of a diverse set of customers from personal investors to businesses with employee benefit programs to newer business segments like Healthcare and Digital Assets.  From an Ireland perspective, although we don’t sell products in the market, our D&I credentials are core to attracting and retaining exceptional talent.

What kind of initiatives at Fidelity help attract and/or retain employees?

We attract, develop and retain employees through a combination of our culture and the exciting work we do at Fidelity.

At Fidelity, we consistently review our policies and benefits to ensure we are attracting, developing, and retaining the best talent.  In addition to fundamental benefits of base, pension and healthcare, all associates in Ireland are eligible for a very competitive annual bonus.  We also have profit sharing programs through internal shares, education funding assist, fully funded training and certification programs as well as a flexible benefit program that associates can use to pay for a range of activities.

Focusing on our employee experience, we have health and wellness programs, strong support for communities of practice (COPs), employee resource groups (ERGs) and funded sports and social groups.  We have an exceptionally strong CSR (Corporate and social responsibility) strategy focused on STEM education and employability which enables our associates to give back. Through our CSR program, Fidelity Cares, we support a range of education programs in schools and universities including Access to Education programs in several universities. We regularly run our work experience program for transition year (TY) students called ‘Root2STEM’, we support TY programs such as ComputeTY in DCU and we recently part funded a new ‘Our World’ program for Junior Achievement Ireland.   We also partner with organisations such as Business In The Community to positively impact our local communities including green and sustainability initiatives and, this year, our associates have actively fundraised for Age Action and Downs Syndrome Ireland.

Last year, as a response to the pandemic we introduced ‘Relief Days’ – 40 hours of additional paid holiday to help our associates support their wellbeing and the wellbeing of others whether that was helping family, for unexpected family responsibilities, or just taking a mental health break.   We repeated this offering in 2021 and continue to add new benefits such as a work-from-home allowance to contribute to any additional costs incurred while our associates continue working from home.

We have specific initiatives focused on attracting new talent – for example, we run regular ‘Returner’ workshops to attract candidates with technology skills who are seeking a return to work after a period out of the workforce.    We also seek out gender balanced candidate slates for opportunities and have diverse interview panels to remove bias from hiring processes.  Fidelity started recruiting technology apprentices four years ago recognising that there is a great pipeline of talent who don’t necessarily have the opportunity of a university education or prefer a more hands on learning experience.  On the business operations side of the business, we fund ‘Fidelity Scholars’ – school leavers who we employ on a permanent basis and support and fund them in completing a business degree.    These actions marry with our award-winning immersive technology graduate program ‘LEAP’ and our business operations graduate program ‘YOU’.

Recent data shows that 1 in 4 ISEQ20 companies have no female representation on their Leadership Teams – What’s your opinion on this?

A homogeneous leadership team whether it is all male or all female is a missed opportunity in my opinion for any business.

Diversity around the decision-making table (whether that is on the basis of gender, ethnicity, or other lived experience) leads to better decisions and better business outcomes.

In support of this I share two statistics that I regularly include in conversations in support of diverse teams – the first is from the United Nations where 87% of participants at peace talks identify as male but where there is diversity, the solutions are more durable and, secondly, from McKinsey research in 2018 where they cited companies with gender diverse teams are 21% more likely to be profitable.   It is also important to remember that your customers usually aren’t a homogeneous group so having representation and understanding of the ultimate customer base drives greater innovation and better decisions because you can potentially walk in the customer or employee shoes and test decisions through multiple lenses.

My own technology leadership team is gender balanced and, in my experience, bringing the broadest range of perspectives to the debate leads to better decisions and outcomes.   Consumers and potential employees now look at a company’s green and sustainability credentials and their inclusion record and legislation like the gender pay gap will further highlight companies who are not inclusive.    On a positive note, I see a marked change in my industry where companies are looking for more diverse candidates, but change is slow and company cultures may in some cases need to change significantly to be inclusive enough to retain female talent but getting more women to the top table with the impetus and power to drive change is a necessary step.

Do you believe some companies play ‘lip service’ when it comes to D&I and that their initiatives are only skin deep?

I’d like to be optimistic and say no company deliberately sets out to pay ‘lip service’ to D&I, however many in my opinion underestimate the effort, education and systematic change that is necessary for an organisation to be truly inclusive.   Some companies focus solely on diversity but no matter how compelling it sounds, that will not work unless the processes and policies are also inclusive.   Support from the top is vital and we all need to continuously educate ourselves as leaders otherwise we may unwittingly undermine the culture.   Many organisations have introduced unconscious bias training and while this is welcome and useful it should not be considered a panacea for all or a one-and-done solution.  At Fidelity, we also introduced ‘Conscious Inclusion’ training which is incredibly powerful if you start to think about all the ways you can be consciously inclusive in every policy and decision.  Our leaders are challenged to make small behavioural changes and encourage others to do the same as we focus collectively on thinking and behaving in a more inclusive manner. This approach taps into the individual power and influence that all of us have – regardless of our roles in a company.

Fidelity Ireland has engaged with the Irish Centre for Diversity and recently attained the Bronze level accreditation as ‘Investors in Diversity’ (IiD) – this is the only accredited benchmark for certifying commitment to Diversity and Inclusion in Ireland.

To be truly successful, companies need to stop thinking about D&I as an initiative or a program and take a longer-term view and think of D&I as part of the culture and embedded into how the company operates.

Here in Fidelity Ireland, while we are delighted to now have an independent benchmark of our inclusive culture, we see it is a starting base to build on.

Has the last year been one big challenge or are there some ‘silver linings’?

Everyone has had their own unique personal experiences over the last 18 months – positive and challenging.  If I consider only the world of work, it has been a considerable time of change and while many people have faced personal, family and health challenges, the pandemic has forced us to think seriously about digital skills, infrastructure to support productive work and collaboration in new non office settings.

The Pandemic has pushed the narrative on where, how and when we work in a way not experienced by many before in their working lives.  In working practices, flexibility is at the centre of the conversation and the debate rages on as the pandemic sustains.

During this time, I also experienced some personal silver linings in my work life over the last year. Firstly, I’ve been at home more so more connected to my local community and have discovered many great benefits on my doorstep that I drove by daily in pre-pandemic times.  I’ve helped the planet by the significant reduction in air miles and mileage across the country, and I’ve taken more time to send a gift or note or to make a casual phone call to my family and friends in the middle of the week – that was unheard of before working from home gave me back commute time.  I’ve had to be more deliberate in how I connect with my colleagues across the organisation, and this has surfaced deeper connection and conversations about what really matters, how everyone is doing rather than the usual quick summary courtesy and down to business meets that were more customary in the past.   In meetings, we’ve all had our democratic space on the screen and that has resulted in new voices and new opinions coming to the fore.    While I look forward to the many hardships, fears in the community ending, I genuinely hope that sense of comradery and democracy in how we interact sustains in our working life regardless of where we might be situated.

Can you share one important lesson/observation/mantra that will inspire others?

One of my favourite quotes is “Be yourself, everyone else is taken” from Oscar Wilde – I think this applies to all facets of life both personal and professional.  This year marked 30 years in the technology business for me and what I’ve learned is authenticity is the key to longevity.  I’ve made some good calls and some not so good decisions, but I can live with the outcomes because the decisions were made based on the best data and from a place of authenticity.