International Women’s Day: are financial services innovators supporting gender equality?
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, which is marked around the world on March 8, is ‘DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality’.
Its aim is to recognise and celebrate the women and girls who are championing the advancement of transformative technology and digital education. This is undoubtedly a vital mission from both an inclusivity perspective and an economic point of view.
According to the United Nations (UN), digital gender gaps drive widening economic and social inequalities and shave billions of dollars off the GDP of low- and middle-income countries. The UN is also concerned about gender inequalities in digital skills and access to tech.
Are women represented in key fintech roles?
Zooming into the financial services tech sector, our specialist area, it’s clear there’s much more to do to bring about opportunities for all. For instance, a recent interview with Cashflows CEO Hannah Fitzsimons in Fintech Magazine highlighted that just 5.6% of fintech CEOs are female, dropping to 4% for CTO and CIO roles.
Research shared by Statista appears to back this up. It found that globally 91.88% of software developers are male, and in major tech brands like Dell and Intel, women account for 30% of the workforce.
Interestingly, during the interview Hannah described how she was seeing increasing numbers of women exploring roles in financial inclusion, driven by goals that have a positive impact upon people’s lives.
This observation very much chimes with the content of a Marqeta livestream last year on financial inclusion whose panel comprised founders of startups such as Carla Hoppe, from Wealthbrite, Nina Mohanty, of Bloom Money, and MoneyMatiX’s Tynah Matembe.
A key theme of this session was the need to involve target audiences in the design and development of fintech products to ensure a relevant user experience.
Another panel member Payal Dalal, Senior Vice President of Mastercard’s Centre for Inclusive Growth, spoke passionately about the work her team had been doing to empower garment workers in Global South nations, and how modern mobile wallet technology is being deployed to give women more control over their salaries.
An industry responds. But is it enough?
Across the financial world there are a range of public and private initiatives aimed at improving historic gender imbalances.
One of these is HM Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter, which is a pledge for equality across financial services. Businesses that sign up to the Charter are required to promote gender balance by making a senior executive team member responsible and accountable for gender diversity and inclusion.
Firms should also set internal targets for gender diversity within the senior management team and publish annual progress against such targets, amongst other measures.
According to the Government, as of 2022 more than 400 businesses with some one million employees had signed up to the Charter, with 78% of companies on track to meet their gender equality targets.
The financial services sector itself is also attempting to raise awareness of alarming gender inequality, which has been exposed by findexable’s Fintech Diversity Radar. It found that just 1.5% (that’s 16 out of 1,032) of the world’s best-funded private fintechs were run by women – echoing Hannah’s comments above.
In an effort to combat this entrenched problem, there are numerous Women in Fintech networks striving to amplify the importance and benefits of a more inclusive financial services sector. Independent industry body Innovate Finance’s Women in Fintech Programme publishes an annual ‘Powerlist’ to shine a light on the women making an impact on fintech and financial services.
The initiative has an awards component with categories acknowledging achievements in leadership, investment, marketing, technology and more. If you’re interested in this issue, you might want to register for Innovate Finance’s upcoming Women in Fintech Powerlist 2022’s ‘celebratory event’ on March 16 in London. Full details can be found here.
As for wider economic trends and their impact of diversity, we return to Hannah’s interview with Fintech Magazine. She believes a new pro-competition regime promoted by the UK Government will prevent Big Tech swallowing up vast swathes of the payments innovation landscape, enabling smaller fintechs to thrive, which in turn will potentially inspire more women to join the sector.
Tell us about your gender equality achievements
As International Women’s Day approaches, it’s clear there is much more to do to improve gender equality in financial services and across the tech sector. To play a constructive role in that endeavour, we’ll be blogging about the role of women in fintech throughout the year.
And if you’re a like-minded financial services innovator who is prioritising inclusivity within your organisation, we’d love to hear from you. We could feature you in this blog series. Contact us today by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org