Gender diversity in fintech: Making a difference from the inside out

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Article by Rosie McConnell, Head of Product, IFX Payments

The Fintech industry is often admired for its unmatched level of growth. Fintechs are behind the rapid product development that has transformed the finance industry and the way consumers manage and understand their money. 

However, for an industry that is so progressive and forward thinking, there’s still a large imbalance in gender diversity from entry level and junior roles all the way through to senior management and C-suite.

It’s a topic covered frequently both by the media, and also internally by businesses wanting to address this themselves. Yet every year, we continue to see significantly disproportionate numbers in gender diversity.  So why aren’t we seeing a change?

At IFX, we pride ourselves on having a strong 40:60 female:male split – substantially higher than the industry standard.

I’m approaching my tenth year in the industry, and I find myself in a unique position, now that I’ve sat on both sides of the hiring table.  As I reflect on what I’ve observed, I can offer some key learnings from my own personal experience to offer businesses some food for thought on their mission to be more inclusive.

The applications

Hiring power goes hand in hand with the opportunity to drive change. Within my three years here, FX has gone through incredible growth and I’m proud to now be in a position of having hiring power and being able to utilise it as a tool to challenge gender disparity across the sector.

When I went through the process of looking to hire myself, I observed that when I offered two roles, one junior and one senior, there was a clear gender split in terms of applications that didn’t necessarily reflect the candidate’s experience and skill sets.

Frequently I found that women were applying to junior roles even when their experience was more suited to the senior, and vice versa with male candidates.  Being in a position of hiring power, I felt it was important to give the applicant this feedback and encourage greater confidence and constructive criticism in their abilities.

This observation made me actively relook at our external messaging about roles at IFX and consider the ways in which we are describing our company, the roles and responsibilities, and the commitment we are asking people to make. Here I outline my top three observations:

1. Job requirements

The first step in guaranteeing that you’re appealing to the candidates with the most suitable skill set is to ensure, as the person hiring, you have clear definitions of the difference between a senior and junior and what the exact experience and expectations are of someone at this level.

Mapping core competencies, skills and experience to seniority, and identifying the best way to surface this in your interview with the candidates will help you know when a candidate is being bullish or under-selling themselves.

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2. Language 

Once these clear benchmarks are set, it is then key that the job application is appealing and attractive to everyone at that level.  As an employer, consider how company policy is reflected in the language of the job posting and how this will be digested by the person reading it.

I noticed that job posts can be filled with language and phrasing that is more likely to appeal to men, and by making simple switches to more gender neutral and inclusive language, I could make our roles more attractive to a broader range of candidates. I urge those with hiring power to review their current job ads and analyse the perception the language used is giving out to potential hires.

3. Equally appealing

Ultimately a role and company culture should appeal to candidates of any gender, as well as anyone of any race or social and economic backgrounds.

Topics affecting the candidates welfare are those which are most likely to be asked in an interview so addressing them in the job posting will likely attract quality talent.  Think about the work from home protocol, mentoring and parental leave allowances.

Tailoring management

Industries which have been historically dominated by men, often lack the management teams who possess skills suited to the growing female workforce. But with workplaces becoming more diverse, managers need to learn to deal with different communication styles and ways of working to make it more appealing to females across the board.  Ultimately, for those in managerial positions, the goal is to pull the best out of your team in order to create better products.  The more we work with our team, the better the results will be.  So what’s the answer?  As women in the industry, we need to introduce more empathy to management in order to nurture female talent and drive greater change.

Looking ahead

I think it’s a complicated problem, and we’re starting to understand that businesses taking a one-size-fits-all approach to diversifying their workforce isn’t always effective. I would argue we must analyse and really understand each individual process, culture and positioning to be able to make meaningful change, that is not curtailed or dependent on external factors.

Innovation and delivering the best work for clients can only happen if the teams are actually varied in thought and I put some of our best ideas at IFX down to the diverse teams we hire.

About the Rosie McConnellauthor

In her role as the Head of Product at IFX, Rosie McConnell is responsible for establishing the deliverables and objectives for IFX’s product offering. With over 10 years of experience in the Fintech sector, Rosie plays a key role in defining and prioritizing product roadmaps for IFX as well as taking ownership for product development and the technological innovation of IFX.

With a decade of industry experience under her belt, Rosie began her career at WorldPay in 2012 before joining Thomas Cook Money in 2018 after which she joined IFX.

Her goal for the year ahead is to drive IFX’s expansion of payment global coverage whilst prioritising traceability and transparency of funds. She is also working on adapting IFX’S virtual iban offering so that the product offers greater level of flexibility and transparency.

Rosie is a passionate champion of value-led change in an industry that is predominantly dominated by men, through helping to advance the Women in Fintech agenda as well as working towards maintaining a cognitively biased team which relies on people from all backgrounds and experiences working together.


Online banking businessman using smartphone with credit card Fintech and Blockchain concept

Championing women in fintech 

Online banking businessman using smartphone with credit card Fintech and Blockchain concept

Article by Rosie McConnell, Head of Product at IFX Payments 

Whilst FinTech as an industry is often viewed as a beacon of progression, the reality is that even at a time where gender equality and the advancement of female talent is top of most business agendas, the stats show a different image.

Reports revealed that less than 30% of the employee base is made up of women, with less than 20% of them occupying executive positions, and fewer than 5% are CEO’s.

So whilst FinTech businesses are undoubtedly transforming the financial services sector, and the future of many consumer experiences such as online banking and payments, it is clear that as a sector there is a lot of work to do on the gender equality front.

Looking back over my ten year career in the Fintech sector, at every step, female role models have played a key part in my development. In my first role I worked under both a female manager and COO who were pivotal in helping me navigate the workplace, my career and the industry, whilst teaching me to maintain authenticity and find ways to put my own mark on the work we were doing.

This level of support and female-led mentorship set me up for success by giving me a strong foundation and resilience to continue pushing boundaries and to recognise the unique value that I could bring to my role. I strongly believe that positive advocacy, female C-suite representation and effective mentorship, can move the needle and help FinTechs retain, champion and cultivate female talent.

But before we can really start making a change, we’ve got to try to pinpoint why even amidst the massive focus on advancing gender diversity, the problem still exists. We’ve seen that the number of women in Fintech has remained low whilst the industry has only continued to grow.

Something that has come up repeatedly is that for many women, a career in Fintech means making difficult prioritisation decisions in other areas of life. Something that I took from my female mentors was that for them, whilst pursuing their professional successes, a consideration always had to be made as to how to juggle work and home duties and overcome personal barricades that perhaps their male counterparts had not experienced.

In particular, the discourse surrounding working women having children often remains largely negative and, as such, a moment in my career that I found particularly profound was when a speaker at a conference openly encouraged those of us in the crowd to have children. It was inspirational to hear the positives rather than the hindrance motherhood presents, highlighting how it can make you a better decision maker, more focussed and generally able to prioritise more as your time becomes more valuable. But speaking positively about women balancing a family and a career should be the norm, not an exception.

As employers we should endeavour to make this balance easy, especially within financial services careers which have historically made it difficult. We need to see changes to policies which allow greater flexibility and acceptance of blended working so that female employees not only feel included, but championed, something which hopefully the pandemic has kickstarted.

That being said, encouraging women to pursue careers in Fintech should not be about preferential treatment or a driving force for male-critical discourse to take place. Rather a cultural and a mindset change that is flexible, creative and inclusive.

I will forever be grateful for the guidance and support I received early in my career and now in my role as head of product at IFX. And whilst there is no quick-fix to boosting the number of women in FinTech, it is important to remember that cognitive diversity not only in gender, but personality types, backgrounds, ages, race, ultimately encourages better teams and as a result better products.

Rosie McConnellAbout the author

In her role as the Head of Product at IFX, Rosie McConnell is responsible for establishing the deliverables and objectives for IFX’s product offering. With over 10 years of experience in the Fintech sector, Rosie plays a key role in defining and prioritizing product roadmaps for IFX as well as taking ownership for product development and the technological innovation of IFX.

Rosie is a passionate champion of value-led change in an industry that is predominantly dominated by men, through helping to advance the Women in Fintech agenda as well as working towards  maintaining a cognitively biased team which relies on people from all backgrounds and experiences working together.