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Fintech is regarded as one of the most forward-looking sectors to emerge in the last decade. The industry has spawned a great deal of innovative business models and digitally-native challengers, as well as creating entirely new jobs.

We still have a long way to go in order to bring better gender diversity to our industry. It’s great to see focused effort on bringing the balance to empower women in fintech. From challenging the status quo through Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, learning bootcamps and innovative education and mentoring offerings, to industry events focusing on new ways to encourage more women into tech roles.

Show me the data

Globally, fintechs still lag behind and the gender gap persists. A report by the global fintech think tank Findexable revealed that only 1.5% of global private fintech companies are founded solely by women and share just 1% of overall venture funding.

The lack of entrepreneurial support and funding for women in fintech is even more pronounced when drilling down to regional statistics. In the UK, a survey carried out by EY revealed that only 45% of women founders feel that raising equity capital is accessible to them, compared to 62% of their male counterparts.

There is also growing evidence to show that gender-balanced leadership teams are more successful. A study conducted by McKinsey revealed that companies that lie in the top quartile in the gender diversity index for executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies who sat in the fourth quartile.

Signs of positive change

While acknowledging the scale of the issue, it’s great to see positive signs of change and significant efforts being made in order to break ceilings and level the playing field.

Among female junior to mid-level workers, 94% reported that they are able to express their suggestions at work and 89% feel they are motivated to perform their job role. The majority express that they are treated with dignity and respect by their fellow team members; similarly 86% in start-ups and 97% in scale-ups expressed similar positive sentiments.  Still, there are too few fintechs with female founders and far too few women are working in the industry, which feeds into the underrepresentation of women in the boardroom and senior management.

Here are a few steps organisations can take with immediate effect to begin addressing and improving the issues discussed:

1.  Flexible working arrangements and parental leave policies

One way employers can pave the way to support talented women in fintech is by ensuring they don’t have to choose between career and family or caring commitments. Flexible working hours can offer breathing space to enable a balance between work, life, and family commitments.

A survey conducted by the BBC revealed that 56% of women believed that working from home would aid their progress at work as childcare and caring duties become less of a hindering factor to working a full-time role.

However, organisations must encourage equal parental leave so it doesn’t default to women. The pandemic showed that women were disproportionately disadvantaged by having to pick up the caring responsibilities at home.

2. Mentoring, traineeships and apprenticeship programmes

Companies who spend time implementing channels to enable diverse entry level applicants to get their foot in the door are paving a way to support the next generation of female talent. This can be achieved by creating traineeship and apprenticeship programs to foster and support new entries to the workforce.

To promote a culture of appreciation and opportunities, industry leaders can provide mentorship and the framework for future applicants to follow. This is beneficial not only to newcomers, but also to experienced individuals.

We need to pay particular attention to encouraging diversity from different socio-economic backgrounds. A recent KPMG study highlighted that class is now the most significant career barrier in the UK; fintech DEI initiatives should seek for innovative ways to open up opportunities and break down career blockers.

3. Community and safe spaces for women

Fintechs should continue to provide opportunities for women to network and build connections across the industry. This can be done by subsidising tickets for women to attend industry events, and promoting female speakers. Initiatives like The Heard are a fantastic way to ensure conference organisers have easy access to talented female speakers.

There is no silver bullet to the problem of gender inequality, however companies have a part to play to improve the situation and drive the successful future of the fintech industry.

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