While there are some positive signs of progress being made on equality and diversity in the FinTech sector, still more needs to be done.
A recent report by EY and Innovate Finance, Changing the face of UK FinTech: focusing on gender diversity and equality,’ reveals that significant barriers still exist when it comes to female equality.
The report showed that among junior to mid-level employees, 63% of female respondents believe their gender impacted on how they are perceived professionally. This contrasted with just 27% of men who felt the same.
As well as this, 42% of the men surveyed claimed to have negotiated on their remuneration package, compared to just 32% of women. And of those who negotiated on their compensation, 69% of men received all or nearly all of what they asked for. This contrasted with just 51% of women.
Sujatha Rajesh, Senior Client Partner Asia-Pacific and Rohini Lingambhotla, Engineering Leader from Altimetrik, a digital business enabler, explore why more women taking leadership positions within the FinTech industry is so important and look at what more can be done to attract women to key leadership roles.
Unconscious bias and lack of role models contribute to the lack of female boardroom representation
The Fintech industry is traditionally perceived to be a male-dominated industry, particularly so at a leadership level. Many male decision-makers will hold an unconscious bias due to their having lived out their career in a male-dominated industry. There’s also a sense in which, what you cannot see, you cannot become. Without female role models in positions of leadership, showing that women can be successful FinTech leaders, it is hard for young women to know how to emulate that career trajectory.
Without women in positions of leadership, there is a danger that the perspectives of women are lost. Women are known to have strong emotional intelligence, and to understand the intricacies of the communities in which they find themselves. But with a patriarchal system and with men continuing to make the financial and business decisions, there will be limited FinTech offerings specifically targeted toward women.
And if men are designing those FinTech products, how can they truly meet the needs of the female consumer. Women bring a different perspective, and so having a greater representation of women in leadership teams will enable more significant female wealth generation.
This presents an economic opportunity
When we build business solutions for women, we enable wealth generation by women. And if you teach a woman, you find that knowledge is more transformative because women are more likely to pass on that knowledge to future generations. As well as this, women are often community minded so are more likely to pass on that knowledge to those outside their family circle so that entire underprivileged communities can be transformed.
By bringing in more women to top roles, you will find an increase in diverse and creative ideas, because the greater the diversity, the greater the spread of perspectives and personal experiences, and therefore ideas.
Understanding the female workforce is vital
We need to work within our organisations to understand our female workforce. Why are they thinking of taking a career break, and what personal reasons prevent them from applying for leadership roles?
Women need to be enabled to see that their professional purpose and personal commitments are both vitally important and that it is possible to do both well. But this mindset change needs to take place among male leaders as well as female employees. The entire industry needs to recognise that women can successfully do both.
Culture change needed
When thinking about what the FinTech industry can do to address a lack of female leadership, there has to be a focus on the top leadership level.
If women can see that there are senior female leaders, then more women will naturally want to come and work for you as they can already see opportunities exist for women within your organisation.
This means FinTech companies need to be putting in place the right environment and culture that supports female employees.
At Altimetrik, we have pioneered our WINGS and Rebound programmes specifically aimed at building up women in our workplaces. Our Wings programme launched in 2021 and aims to help women grow in their careers, as well as helping them find balance in their personal lives. We provide networking opportunities and support groups, as well as training to help hone their leadership skills.
As well as this, our Rebound scheme aims to help women living in India, who have taken a career break from the tech industry and would like to return and upskill in the latest technological developments.
We have also recently launched a mentorship programme specifically for women, where women are mentored by senior leaders (both male and female). As the future unfolds, and we see technology tools replace the need for developers and programmers, the STEM workforce will need to develop the human skills that machines cannot replace. Therefore, through mentorship, we hope women will build their business acumen, learn how to carry out sharp analysis of trends and emerging markets while holding on to the emotional quotient and customer empathy, which is often found to be a more robust skillset for women than men.
We truly believe that if women are provided with the right tools and circumstances, they can grow in confidence and progress in the workplace.
What the FinTech industry doesn’t need is lip service. A level playing field is needed, and initiatives that help women achieve their full potential are vital for the future of FinTech.
About the Authors: Sujatha Rajesh is the Senior Client Partner for Asia-Pacific and Rohini Lingambhotla is the Engineering Leader at Altimetrik.