This article originally appeared in Innovators Magazine on 8 March 2017 as a part of our International Women’s Day 2017 campaign.
It’s no secret that there’s a shortage of women in fintech. Echoing ratios found in traditional financial services, women lead just 5% of European fintech companies, with only 7% of fintechs worldwide employing female executives. However, in light of increasingly widespread acknowledgement of the value of women in fintech, there is a real, positive push from within the community towards diversity.
Let’s talk about why more women should be in fintech, and how we can get them on board.
Diverse teams deliver
It’s something we kind of knew all along, but diverse teams tend to get better results. “This is particularly important for fintechs,” Aline Vedder, Director of Communications at Acton Capital Partners , explains. “A diverse body of talent reflects a fintech’s customer base, which helps drive successful results.” But it goes beyond that: “myriad studies already confirm that diverse teams perform better,” she adds. Agustin Cahyaningtia, Brand Manager at Holland Fintech, agrees. “Diversity is beneficial because it blends perspectives. It helps fintechs to identify bigger opportunities and broadens their view on how to face challenges.”
Women also bring unique talents to the table. “Fintech is all about collaboration, a natural spot for women” says Ank van Wylick, Partner Advisory and FinTech Lead at KPMG.
A sentiment echoed by Figo‘s Head of Regulation, Cornelia Schwertner, “Fintech needs chaos fighting and empathetic thinking… Women often excel in these skills – perfectly filling in the gaps of fintechs struggling with growing pains.”
A better understanding of the market
Gemma Godfrey, CEO of Moola, puts it perfectly: “For a company to be successful, it must understand its customers. Without women, you’re not representing half of your target market.”
Her sentiment is echoed throughout the fintech community. For Diana Biggs, a fintech expert and consultant, drawing more women into fintech “isn’t a PR or CSR exercise” – it solves a business problem. Leah Marie Zeppos, a Country Manager at Holvi, expands, “If your team is all male, you’ve excluded half the population, and with it, half your potential market”. And while women still earn less, they drive 70-80% of consumer purchases and control the household purse strings. As Leah says, failing to understand women isn’t just bad business, it’s a “grave risk to take in product development”.
An exciting place to be
Of course, it’s not just about what women can do for fintech, but what fintech can do for women. “Prospects to win big, be innovative and change the world should make fintech super exciting for women,” acknowledges Marta Krupińska, Co-founder and General Manager at Azimo.
Anne Hakvoort, Attorney at FG Lawyers shares Marta’s optimism. “It’s extremely energising to be part of one of the world’s fastest growing industries,” she says. And it’s not just about the excitement of working at a fintech – “women can be at the helm of making a real change in the financial sector, as well as the regulatory framework around it.”
Actively seeking out women to join your team is a great start. Leah Marie suggests ensuring that women are on your tech teams, in management and in the voice of the company. Diana encourages men and women to develop “a stronger understanding of unconscious bias, and what attracts male vs. female employees”.
The startup world is dominated by young guys, which is often reflected in hiring processes. “What would your (un)conscious reaction be to a careers page featuring a twenty person team consisting only of men?” asks Laura Gottwald, Head of HR at Spotcap. “Women do not want to be an anomaly in the workplace, which is why it’s important for them to see and meet other women during the recruitment process.”
It’s important to acknowledge that men and women communicate differently. Diana asks, “are you saying you want to hire more females, but still selecting candidates who exhibit typically male characteristics in interviews?” If so, she says, you’re likely missing out on some incredible hires.
Culture & flexibility
As women, our societal roles and responsibilities differ to those of men. Francesca Aliverti, PR & Communications Manager at Holland Fintech, underscores the necessity to develop family-friendly HR policies that help secure a positive career-family balance for women.
Paulina Tenner, Founder and Director of GrantTree, is passionate about company culture. “When it comes to retaining women, it’s every single company’s responsibility to create a culture that’s wholesome and friendly – not just to women, but to all team members,” she explains. However, it’s imperative to properly invest in cultivating a healthy culture – “it’s much more than just a generous maternity leave policy and flexible working hours,” Paulina says.
Role models & networks
Devie Mohan, Co-founder & CEO of Burnmark, emphasises the importance of a female network within fintech. “Position women as role models. Share the successes and challenges that female entrepreneurs face. Build support networks of successful women in the field,” she posits.
“In the majority of meetings and fintech events I attend, the audience is 80% male, and 9/10 speakers are men,” Francesca recounts. “We can start by making sure there are female speakers on every fintech panel.”
As finance veteran and fintech expert Barbara Lampl says, the question isn’t why should more women be in fintech, but why not? Women bring an amazing array of talents to fintech, diversifying ways of leading, thinking and working. They help to develop a more holistic understanding of markets and business, ultimately sharpening fintech’s impact on the world. Fintech’s unique offering of a dynamic, exciting work environment – as well as growing initiatives to attract more women – make it an exciting time and place to be female.
Keeley Reynolds is the Global Head of Communications at Spotcap and is passionate about attracting women to the Fintech industry and better supporting their growth and development.
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Originally published March 9 2017 , updated March 5 2020