woman holding tabletWritten by: Özge Çelik, Head of Product at Papara

Innovation and growth should not come at the expense of creating a truly inclusive sector where women can advance their careers.

Since I began my career in financial services 20 years ago, significant progress has been made in fostering an environment where women are encouraged to enter and thrive in roles that used to be occupied by men. However, there is still work to be done.

The fintech sector is projected to become a $1.5 trillion industry by the year 2030. To ensure that gender equality keeps pace with this growth, transparency about the current state of play is important. With women currently making up 30% of the fintech workforce and only 10% holding board seats, fast-growth companies must commit to genuine and sustained efforts to foster gender parity, rather than simply paying lip service.

Nurture talent at entry-level and throughout careers

Fast-growth fintechs are characterised by their focus on innovation, but this should not be limited to products. Fintechs must think of innovative ways to upskill women entering the workforce and throughout their careers; for instance, internships or training courses to equip women with the skills needed to work in fintech. This will not only help firms train female talent to suit the needs of their growing businesses but also invest in a pipeline of female talent the sector desperately needs.

Beyond entry-level, opportunities for mentorship and professional development are crucial to retaining female talent in the long run.

A culture that works for women, not against women

It is well-documented that women are hugely impacted by unaccommodating workplaces. In a high-growth environment moving at a rapid pace, an employee-first culture is a must.

It starts with checking in with your staff and building an environment where they are supported from day one. This can begin with ‘buddy’ or mentorship schemes which allow experienced members of the team to support newcomers to adopting inclusive workplace policies around parental leave.

Women are not a monolith – so it is important to review the needs of your staff on an individual basis and accommodate them accordingly.

Diversity makes business and economic sense

A more diverse workforce will lead to more innovative solutions and products that reflect a wider customer base. For example, a product team with female representation is more likely to build an inclusive product that considers the needs of women.

We also know that gender diversity is tied to the performance of fintech firms overall, especially when they are encouraged to take up executive positions. At a turbulent time when firms are facing various pressures across the market, investing in female talent should be a top priority.

There is no set blueprint for achieving gender equality in the fintech sector. Tech companies must accept that there is still progress to be made when it comes to attracting and retaining much-needed female talent into tech roles and take proactive steps to remedy this gap. As a sector already holding a vast array of growth and opportunity, empowering women and championing equality we will help us to reach new heights of innovation and success.

About Özge Çelik

Özge ÇelikOzge Celik has over 20 years of experience in the payments and financial services industry. She started her career at Akbank. In 2007, she joined BKM – Interbank Card Center, and in the following 14 years, she held various positions in business development.

She is currently working as Head of Product at Papara. She and her team oversees the entire product life cycle, from defining product strategy to orchestrating product launches.

She is passionate about payment systems and the newest technologies.