Dr. Minou Ghaffari – Senior Behavioral Psychologist at PAIR Finance 

I am working as a Senior Behavioral Psychologist at PAIR Finance. I am enthusiastic about how people make decisions and learning about the underlying drivers of these decisions. The goal of my work at PAIR Finance is to apply insights gained from behavioral psychology research to our communication with debtors. This includes developing a machine learning tool to predict which psychological strategy is favored by a specific type of debtor. Together with the data science team I am setting up models to predict different behaviors, for example at which time a message is most likely to be opened by a debtor. Before joining the PAIR Finance, I completed my PhD in Psychology, studying the underlying processes of human decision making in economic settings. With my current position, I have the opportunity to extend research findings from theory to an applied setting and contribute to reshaping the debt collection industry. 

What does diversity in the workplace mean to you?

Naturally, the definition of diversity from a psychologist’s point of view is related to people. To me, diversity in the workplace is reflected by the different backgrounds and characteristics of employees working at a company. In my opinion, the most important aspects for a truly diverse working environment are related to differences in gender, nationality, age, religion and education. To understand what true diversity means for a company, it is important to distinguish between companies who symbolically hire a diverse range of people and those who make sure that the participation of these people is equal. Only by balancing the participation, performance and compensation across all backgrounds and particularly minorities, a company can be referred to as being truly diverse. In addition to the employees’ characteristics, diversity at the workplace in my opinion is also related to offering an individualized working environment. For example, options for flexible working hours and work from home opportunities take the different needs of diverse employees into account. 

What do companies have to change or start doing to become more diverse? 

With respect to increasing the diversity of employees, there are several approaches that could be implemented by companies. First, the recruiting process could be adapted to grant applicants as much equality as possible. Every minority group is facing the challenge of being judged not merely based on their objective performance but possibly also by social stigma. In order to proactively reduce any prejudice involved in the recruiting process, companies could consider removing information related to age, nationality and gender from the application form. This way the application process becomes more objective and grants everyone the same opportunities. Second, companies could include diversity as one of their values. By highlighting diversity as a core value, every employee is encouraged to live up to the standards put forward by the company and will more likely respect the concept of diversity in their individual teams. Further, the company will more likely attract candidates who value a diverse workplace. Third, offering flexibility in terms of work from home options and on-site childcare are also important to ensure that the company is a desirable workplace for everyone, independent of their background. 

Why do you think diversity in teams & companies is important?

I experience the importance of diversity in teams every day firsthand. I mostly work at the intersection between the data science team and the management team. By employing different perspectives, I think that diverse teams have a more complete understanding of a specific problem. For example, employees in the data science team are appreciated for their more fine-grained understanding of a problem, while the management team rather focuses on the broader scope. Importantly, diverse characters within each of the teams make sure that everyone’s individual strengths are utilized in the best possible way. Diverse characters of employees are associated with a diverse skill set and prepare a company to successfully accomplish a wide range of tasks. In addition, I feel like diverse teams are more open-minded to new approaches and are willing to deviate from the norm a lot more than less diverse teams. Surely, such an open-minded attitude has a strong effect on a company’s ability for innovation and creativity. 

What does diversity mean in finleap’s ecosystem? 

I have experienced diversity to be a key principle at finleap and the ecosystem. The concept of an ecosystem itself is associated with diversity as it brings together a wide range of different companies from different industries. finleap specifically setting up a number of activities to bring the employees of the ventures together is an important step for a diverse culture. For example, regular activities such as joint lunch, breakfast and universe sessions, are very effective in fostering interaction between all employees. At these activities, you always have the chance to meet other people who came to work for one of the finleap ventures from all over the world. In addition, choosing English to be the company language encourages people from all nationalities to apply for positions at the finleap ecosystem and feel at home here. All in all, finleap including the concept of diversity as one of their company values highlights the importance assigned to diversity at this company, which reflects throughout the entire ecosystem.