bias corporates, International Women's Day, #breakthebias

Article provided by Annette Evans, VP of People & Culture – Global Processing Services

Fintech is inexorably linked with innovation, open-mindedness and collaboration.

These ingredients are the lifeblood of our industry, so you would be forgiven for thinking fintechs are pioneers of diversity. Sadly, whilst much progress has been made, this is far from the case.

GPS recently sponsored the Diversity for Growth Report in partnership with Findexable which uncovered a surprising picture of an industry suffering a woeful lack of diversity, particularly when it comes to female representation.

There were two statistics which leapt out at me when I read the findings. Firstly, there is a consensus that a lack of gender balance means men’s ideas dominate every stage of the fintech value chain. Secondly, rapidly scaling companies are struggling to balance diversity commitments with the challenges of building teams in new regions at scale and speed.

This is at odds with fintech firms who seem to agree that a commitment to being fully inclusive makes good business sense. And they are absolutely right. It is well-documented that well-managed, diverse groups outperform homogenous ones, and that diversity leads to a higher collective intelligence, better decision-making, and accelerated innovation.

Beyond that, it makes clear commercial sense. It is statistically proven that having more women in technical positions leads to more customers because they develop products specifically with women in mind.

Breaking the Bias

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias and in my opinion, to truly break the bias we need fintech leaders to be more open-minded about where the talent they hire comes from. If we continue to recruit from the same talent pool, we cannot be surprised to see the same talent at mid and senior levels and wonder where all the women are.

Change is happening, but real change takes time. We are starting to see a new generation of diverse talent enter the talent pool and work their way up the ladder. This will, of course, eventually diversify talent at a more senior level, but it may take a decade or more to see a real difference in the demographics of fintech boardrooms.

In the meantime, I encourage businesses to see this International Women’s Day as an opportunity to review their business culture. If you have a low number of women at your company in senior and technical roles, it may be time to ask questions around why so few women choose to work there. In doing so, you may potentially identify an environment where women are not given enough opportunities to shine, or a culture which unconsciously favours those who already fit the mould.

Those who fail to ask these difficult questions risk losing out. After all, women understand how women think and what they need, so you need women in your team if you want to try and build and sell a product to women.

Knowing bias exists is not enough to make a change, and significant change will not happen overnight. But by being accountable for our own bias, examining business practices through the #BreakTheBias lens, and taking incremental steps towards real representation, the fintech industry can be a leader of diversity as successfully as it leads in innovation.

This International Women’s Day, I urge all fintechs to take an objective look at their teams and ask themselves this question…Are we part of the problem?

Meet our 100 incredible leaders breaking the bias & calling for societal change this International Women’s Day

As part of our #WeAreBreakingTheBias campaign, we will be sharing the thoughts of over 100 leaders who are calling for societal change for women. We hope you will join us so we can amplify why we should all #BreakTheBias for gender equity.