Diversity in Fintech

Mar 17, 2021

I was incredibly proud to have been named one of the Top 100 women in fintech by fintech

Magazine recently. It was brilliant to see the incredible women I was listed with who have

worked so hard to disrupt the market and make a hugely positive impact on the industry. It

also triggered some other thoughts I had about why we tend to see a disproportionate

amount of women in this sector.

A study last year revealed that less than 30% of the UK's fintech workforce was female. The

same study also found that whilst less than 30% of the fintech workforce is female, only 17%

of senior fintech roles are held by women.

A traditional banking workforce can confidently understand their gender and ethnicity pay

gap without too much problem, but a fintech on the other hand may struggle due to

educational opportunities around STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics)

and attitudes towards gender bias. Traditional banks will have a mixture of expertise that

attract a diverse pool of talent from marketing to customer service, relationship management

and back end technical workers. But fintechs see more of a split of a general banking

workforce vs a much higher proportion of technological workers including; gamers,

developers and operational teams which is generally a more male dominated environment.

By representing and serving women, fintechs have the opportunity to bridge the gender gap

in investment, retirement, and economic status. The case for change is clear, but gender

imbalance in fintech is still quite evident. fintechs can lead the way and become a beacon of

accomplishment for other businesses, from startups to big global enterprises, in financial

services and beyond.

The Treasury Select Committee launched an inquiry in 2017 into the barriers women face

within the financial services industry. Initiatives like this are vitally important as there is a

clear need to understand and tackle the challenges of finding diverse talent in financial

services and the barriers which prevent women from setting up their own businesses or

progressing to senior levels within companies. fintech is a highly skilled sector, driven by

people that understand the gaps in the financial market. Such understanding and knowledge

often comes from having experience at a senior level in finance and most of those positions

are still filled by men.

Juggling family and work life puts intense pressure on female entrepreneurs who often prefer

more certainty of hours compared to a start-up culture with longer hours, anti-social work

patterns and associated stress. Businesses need to understand this and offer flexibility

where they can – not just to women but to men as well.

Then there’s the issue of STEM skill shortages among young women, which is often vital to

entering the fintech sector. Although coding is now included in the UK’s computing

curriculum which helps children leave school prepared for life in a digital economy, gender

gaps still persist. STEM education is a massive factor in influencing younger people from all

walks of life to develop their knowledge of these key sectors of Science, Technology,

Engineering, Mathematics and even Arts (STEAM).

It has taken an enormous amount of hard work for incumbent financial institutions to start to

embed inclusion and diversity within their recruitment processes and policies. fintechs can

learn from this to really push for the change – from proactively seeking more women

candidates to apply for jobs, scrutinising the impact of interview processes and the way job

descriptions are written, creating flexible family policies, and setting explicit targets and

measuring against them.

As new businesses are built and grow, so do new cultures. From the outset at Loqbox, we

have developed opportunities to create an inclusive culture that is open and respectful and

that values diversity. This has come from the leadership and direction of our Co-Founders

and Co-CEOs Tom Eyre and Gregor Mowat, but is also a business wide expectation set

around accepted behaviors and treating our entire team with equal opportunities and

encouraging everyone to be the best they can be.

However, for the more established fintechs, change will mean taking the time to really

understand their own culture in the business by talking to colleagues and new members of

staff. It is this insight that can be used to identify the problems and their root causes and

start to shift the way fintechs adopt these core diversity and inclusion approaches.

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