How the financial technology sector can correct its gender imbalance
As fintech continues its rapid and unprecedented growth, gender imbalance remains a prominent industry issue.
Emulating the failures of the traditional finance and tech sectors, fintechs are missing the opportunity to offer genuine support and accessibility to female professionals.
The statistics paint a bleak picture. In terms of recruitment, just 30% of fintech professionals are women, according to an article by Business Today. However, fintech’s gender imbalance is not an issue rooted in recruitment alone. When looking at foundership, a 2020 report by Deloitte found that female-founded start-ups generate 50% less capital from their funding rounds than their male counterparts.
These statistics highlight fintech’s failures across the board. Wholesale changes to fintech’s recruitment, management and support systems are required in order to adequately address the sector’s gender imbalance. Despite this, female figures in the industry are becoming increasingly vocal about the ways in which companies can make a difference.
Here are ways in which real improvements can be made:
Avoid recruitment bias
Starting with recruitment, companies need to address the foundations of their talent acquisition process. Companies across the sector are not just failing to hire enough women, but also completely failing to attract female talent.
Recruitment issues begin with the ways in which jobs are presented. This includes adopting more inclusive job advertising and working with recruiters to ensure a diverse array of talent is attaining access to the role. Additionally, incorporating a diverse interviewing panel can help to ensure that female talent is assessed as fairly as possible.
Consulting with a diverse panel of interviewers also plays a key role in ensuring that any unconscious biases are combatted. By comparing several unique perspectives, it helps to prevent ‘Mini-me Syndrome’, in which managers or interviewers favour candidates who are as similar as possible to themselves in terms of age, gender, mentality or sector experience.
Until firms take action to prevent bias and inequality in recruitment processes, women will continue to seek roles in other, more inclusive, industries.
Create a safe workspace
Creating a safe workspace is vital in the retention of female talent. All employees need to feel comfortable, included and respected irrespective of their gender. Creating a safe workspace involves ensuring all members of the workforce can share their issues or grievances.
With fintech being a predominantly male-dominated sphere, it can often be more difficult for female professionals to speak up about workplace issues. Hosting talks and seminars offering female perspectives can help to ensure all voices are heard and represented. This is important in preventing women from experiencing ‘Imposter Syndrome’ – a psychological condition in which an individual doubts their competence and struggles to recognise their merits. Preventing ‘Imposter Syndrome’ plays a key role in helping women find the confidence to apply for senior roles across the industry.
By promoting female voices and addressing their concerns with genuine brevity, it helps to support women throughout the workforce. In turn, this plays a vital role in encouraging women to remain in, and progress through, the fintech landscape.
To increase the number of female fintech professionals, companies must begin ensuring that a culture of understanding and education is instilled from the top down. This helps to promote an allyship process, in which everyone plays an active role in the inclusion, support and growth of others, helping to eliminate daily micro-inequalities and aggressions.
Examples of allyship include speaking up when you witness micro-inequalities or aggressions (even if they are not directed at, or directly affect, you), finding the time to share experiences of inequality and developing a deeper understanding of how they can be avoided going forward, and staging internal workshops to develop a greater understanding of personal needs and identities in the workplace.
Directly conducive to creating a safe workspace, promoting allyship requires holding regressive or exclusionary behaviour to account, with the end goal being an environment in which all members of staff are educated and keen to support each other. Removing the elements of toxic masculinity that are prevalent in both the traditional finance and tech sectors will ensure that women feel the allyship of their employers and co-workers going forward.
While the majority of fintech’s gender issues require exhaustive change and overhaul, a simple, but hugely important, step that all companies could take is to increase the visibility of their female leaders. By highlighting the tireless work of females across the industry, it provides visible role models for women interested in entering a career in fintech, and those women already in the industry who are striving to become VPs or CEOs.
To consider fintech a realistic career path, women need to see more examples of their gender achieving success across the sector. Championing female fintech leaders and ensuring that they are visible throughout the corporate structure can play a pivotal role in encouraging women to take their first steps into fintech, slowly but surely working away at the gender imbalance.
About the author:
Pamela Mead is VP of design at UK-based financial service provider SumUp.
Pamela has spent the last 15 years building design teams and practices at companies including Delivery Hero, HERE Technologies, Telefónica, and Yahoo!.