International Women’s Day represents a good opportunity to explore the experiences of women in fintech, and the trends in gender differentiation in the industry. While the number of women in leading fintech roles is growing, the stats remain extremely low compared to their male counterparts, with research showing that only 1.5% of global fintech firms are founded by women. However, with a 50% female lead team, Jen Badger, Co-Founder and Operations Director of WhisperClaims discusses the importance of encouraging diversity in fintech, which could ultimately lead to more productivity, growth in the industry and better outcomes for both employees and businesses.
Encouraging Diversity in Fintech
Fintech is one of the largest and fastest-growing sectors in the global and UK economy, and is predicted to reach $188 billion by 2024. The industry is constantly evolving and has grown exponentially over the years – driving the need for skilled talent across multiple areas; from software development, data science, product management and digital marketing.
For businesses to remain competitive in the talent market and relevant to their customers, it is equally crucial to promote diversity in fintech, in addition to having a varied skill set. A diverse talent pool provides more access to different points of views, skill sets, creative visions, and approach – which from a business perspective – is crucial to create products and services that suit the modern world. Yet, inequality remains, with the average gender pay disparity in the finance industry being 25%, and only 30% of the whole workforce being female.
Overcoming Barriers to the Industry
In order to close the gap on inequality and drive diversity into fintech, barriers need to be removed in order to encourage women into the industry. The COVID-19 pandemic initiated a transition to remote and/or hybrid working, which has proven to the fintech industry that staff can be just as productive and efficient from home. Flexible working conditions have opened up opportunities for a better work-life balance, improved mental health and stress management, by giving employees the choice to work remotely or in an office. It also enables some women – for example, mums or carers – to return to work or work in a way that enables them to be the most productive.
Furthermore, the shift to remote working has expanded the range of roles that do not require staff to be office-based, providing people with opportunities to apply for roles regardless of location. This has given employers access to a larger pool of talent that inevitably promotes diversity in the workplace.
Another positive trend is the changing attitude of the technology industry towards the well-being needs of staff as a priority in recent years. This has led to a greater understanding of how people perform in order to create an effective working environment that promotes creativity, collaboration, productivity and positive outcomes. And for women who are already in the fintech industry, more females are standing up and flying the flag to inspire others to consider the STEM industry as a career path. Combined with the rise in social media and an increasing number of female industry peers, more women are being given the opportunity to be both seen and heard. Ultimately, seeing is believing – as for example, female students are more likely to study STEM when they are assigned a female professor instead of a male one – proving the importance of having relatable role models in the industry.
STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers have traditionally been male-dominated, but it is refreshing to see the work that is being done by educational bodies, industry peers and the Government to actively promote STEM roles to females, whilst also educating employers on how to build workplace environments that enable female workers to thrive.
Furthermore, a workforce that includes women can bring a diverse range of skills and perspectives that will ultimately improve how a business works, leading to greater output. By creating a culture that not only encourages women to enter, but to also thrive once hired into the business, is crucial. This can include ensuring that the work environment is inclusive where all employees can make an equal contribution, or giving women a platform to share ideas and opportunities to be executed.
Whilst continued research needs to take place into what workplace needs women require – as well as wider acknowledgement of behaviours, infrastructure and language within society that disadvantages women – it is clear that having flexible working practices and an open framework that allows the team to communicate their specific needs, has led to female team members having access to benefits that enable them to maximise their contribution to the success of businesses. This has obvious benefits, not just to the employee, but to the business as a whole, where they are able to retain the skills of the people they have already invested in and are able to present “softer” benefits that differentiate us when they are looking to recruit.
The fintech industry is re-shaping the future of finance, and this digitisation of services creates opportunities to build more inclusive and efficient financial services, and promote economic growth. But in order to create inclusive services, the workforces behind the businesses must also be inclusive – especially to stand out in the competitive job market to attract the best talent.
Over 2023, and beyond, more businesses need to start taking action to address gender imbalances in the industry. One way to achieve this is by drafting policies that protect and nurture diversity in the workplace, ensuring equal treatment for all employees, irrespective of their gender. As well as this, building appropriate flexibility can help employees to thrive and make contributions within their organisations, which will inevitably lead to delivering more female-friendly workplaces, while at the same time, bringing positives for employers. The more organisations that take this diverse approach across the sector as a whole, the better.