Investors frequently praise the fintech sector for its phenomenal rate of expansion, because fintech is causing new products to emerge quickly, changing how the finance industry works and how customers handle and understand their money.
Even though the tech industry thinks of itself as progressive and forward-thinking, there is still a significant gender gap in roles from entry-level and junior to senior management and the C-suite.
The media routinely covers the subject, and organizations that want to handle it do so. Yet we continue to observe glaringly unequal percentages of gender diversity every year. Why, then, do we not perceive a change?
Having been on both sides of the hiring table, we find ourselves in a unique situation as we approach our tenth year in the business. However, considering what we’ve seen, we can provide critical insights from our own experience to give businesses something to think about as they work to become more inclusive.
What did we find?
The ability to influence change goes hand in hand with hiring power. During the three years, we’ve worked at IFM, the company has grown a lot, and we are happy to be in a position where we can use our hiring power to fight against gender inequality in the industry.
When we went through the hiring process for ourselves, we noticed a definite gender divide in the applications that didn’t always reflect the candidates’ experience and skill sets when we offered two opportunities, one junior and one senior.
Women often applied for lower-level jobs even though their experience was better suited for higher-level positions, and the same was true for men. Therefore, we believed providing the applicant with this feedback was crucial to boosting their self-assurance and promoting a constructive critique of their skills.
Because of this discovery, we had to carefully rethink how we describe our company, the jobs and responsibilities, and the commitments we ask employees to make about their roles in our communications with the outside world. Here, we provide our top three findings:
Make job specifications clear
As a hiring manager, the first step to attracting candidates with the best skills is to make sure you know the difference between a senior and a junior and what the experience and expectations are for someone at this level.
You can tell if a candidate is overselling or underselling themselves by mapping their basic skills and experience to their level of seniority and figuring out the best way to bring this up in the interview.
Use the right language
After establishing these standards, the job application must appeal to everyone. Employers should think about how the language of the job advertisement reflects business policy and how the reader will interpret it.
We learned that some job descriptions use words and phrases men are likelier to like. We could attract a wider pool of candidates by making small changes to our job descriptions to use more inclusive language for both genders. Instead, we beg people in charge of hiring to look over their current job postings and think about how the language makes candidates feel.
Make it equally attractive to everyone
Ultimately, a job and a company’s culture should appeal to people of any gender, race, social class, or income level.
Since questions about a candidate’s well-being are the ones most likely to come up in an interview, including them in the job description is expected to draw in top prospects. Consider the guidelines for working from home, mentorship, and parental leave benefits.
Industries that men once dominated often don’t have management teams with skills that match the growing number of women in the workforce. But as workplaces change, managers need to learn how to deal with different ways of communicating and working to make them more appealing to women. The main goal of people in management positions is to bring out the best in their teams so they can make better products. The outcomes will be better the more we collaborate with our team. What, then, is the solution? As women in the industry, we need to bring more empathy to management if we want to help women get jobs and make significant changes.
We believe it’s a challenging issue, and we’re beginning to see that corporations diversifying their workforces in one way don’t always succeed. So, to make fundamental changes that aren’t limited by or dependent on outside forces, we would argue that we need to study and understand each unique process, culture, and position.
We credit some of our best ideas to the various teams we hire because creativity and doing the best work for clients can only happen when the groups disagree
Where do we go from here?
Fintech companies of all sizes concur that a commitment to diversity is a social good, but how are they presenting the case for doing so on a financial level?
You might think that the strong business reasons for having more women in the finance industry, especially in fintech, would be enough.
After all, it seems straightforward enough: more products that address specific needs plus more women working in fintech firms equals more customers. But, of course, anyone can do that math.
But a new look at how women are represented in the fintech sector for the Fintech Diversity Radar and our FDR1000 index of fintech companies shows a very different and often surprising picture.
Many of the interviewees in the study released last month were confident in the financial impact that more diversity in the workforce, culture, and thought processes can have on the bottom line.
Putting aside the performance benefits of diversity, which are well known, diverse teams can do a lot more to attract talent, keep talent, and get employees involved significantly as the demand for skills expands globally.
Why is diversity such a complex topic?
The research, which is mostly about how women fit into the fintech industry, finds that fintech founders have to deal with specific and complicated problems. Interestingly, the difficulties persisted across all regions:
Due to the lack of gender balance, many executives at fintech companies agree that men’s ideas dominate at every step of the fintech value chain. As a result, growing companies need to find a balance between their commitment to diversity and the challenges of building teams rapidly and at a large scale in new places.
When it does exist, data and best practices for benchmarking and tracking progress are sparse and inconsistent. Even though the structure of developing fintech organisations makes it easier to adapt, the resources needed to meet diversity goals often get in the way. Even with these problems, the study finds an excellent way to deal with diversity and shows how to turn diversity promises into actions and results.
Sofia Nunes, co-founder and head of diversity, equity, and inclusion at unicorn BaaS cloud banking platform with headquarters in Germany, says that intentional diversity starts at the very beginning of a business. “We were quite explicit about the kind of diversity we desired in the workplace and how significant it was to us.” When it came to hiring, onboarding, and creating an inclusive atmosphere, we paid close attention to this. We were aware of the advantages for the business. ”
Jumo, a provider of financial platforms, is working hard to ensure that the company’s diversity is reflected in its product development in Africa, which has a higher percentage of women-led fintech businesses than anywhere else in the world.
“We are aware that belonging, diversity, and inclusion make us stronger.” JUMO is a better place to work because it embraces diverse experiences, perspectives, and ways of thinking, which not only helps us produce better products. The company’s ESG and Campus Lead in South Africa is Jade Potgieter.
Where’s the money heading?
Even though the efforts of individuals are admirable and provide evidence that should make the whole sector change, a “diversity stampede” is still unlikely without the money to support it.
According to the Diversity Radar study, women in fintech are a new 1% club. Only 1% of venture capital funding worldwide goes to companies started by women. And even though we should be 200% proud of their accomplishments, maintaining the status quo is not an option.
We require targeted investment to overcome the herd mentality and ensure diversity in fintech firms from the start.
“We require targeted investment to overcome the herd mentality and ensure diversity in fintech firms from the start. We think diversity is a powerful force for performance. Because diversity fosters creativity, innovation, and market awareness,” Stine Jersie Olsen, Head of Investor Activities for Growth and Impact in Denmark, said in a statement.
To change, pay attention and learn
The research also touched on the fourth topic, which is the role of culture in fostering the success of employees from different backgrounds and skill levels. This topic is frequently discussed but much more complicated to implement (especially in large-scale businesses).
“We employ flexible working methods. We don’t work in a nine-to-five setting. This has been designed and cultivated to give us the freedom to work at our peak potential when it suits our productivity rhythms,” explains Jade Potgieter of JUMO.
AZA Finance is another African fintech company that runs specialised programs focusing on type, role, and aptitude. The company is now setting up mentorship programs to help it achieve its goals.
Premo Ojokojo, AZA’s Head of People Operations, states, “We’re clear on the final result.” We’re searching for younger women who want to learn more about engineering, software, and product management, particularly in the technical fields of product and engineering.
True diversity requires more than corporate declarations of intent, and it is a responsibility that extends far beyond the confines of the HR department. It needs commitment and leadership from executives to create an inclusive culture where, for instance, all questions are treated seriously regardless of who asks them or where they come from within the organization.
One of only 65 companies in the FDR1000 index of 1000 best performing fintech firms with a female CEO, Global Processing Services (GPS), based in the UK, stated, “I think the listening forum was vital to getting to the bottom of where some of the main areas for development are.”
In conclusion, fintech is an industry that is growing rapidly and is attracting more women. However, there is still a long way to go in terms of gender diversity. The fintech industry needs to continue to try to attract and retain more women in order to create a more diverse and inclusive industry.