When it comes to fintech real diversity is a long way off. Even by the standards set in the wider finance and technology sectors. That is the key, often shocking, finding in our report, the first output of the Fintech Diversity Radar to build a global diversity benchmark for fintech.
Whether as company founders, CEOs, senior executives or on the board of directors, women are not seen and rarely heard. Of the 1,032 fintech firms, only 17 were funded solely by women. They received just one percent of total fintech venture funding.
Less than six percent of CEOs are women, as are less than four percent of CIOs or CTOs. In many ways, fintech appears to be repeating the behaviors of traditional finance, with added digital spin.
The new ‘one percent club’ for women founders and venture funding identified in our report may be a blow for fintech’s evangelists, but these women are to be celebrated and amplified, nonetheless. What’s more, western markets appear to be outpaced by fast growing regions.
Africa has the highest proportion of female board members, and with the Middle East, hosts the highest share of female CEOs, for example. Dubai, São Paulo, Buenos Aires, and Lagos are all emerging as female fintech hotspots, while women-founded companies in Latin America, Asia-Pacific and Africa outperformed their male counterparts on median funding per company.
Behind it all, the number of companies founded by women has grown as a percentage over the past decade, with momentum shifting away from North America and Asia, and towards Latin America, the Middle East, and to a lesser extent, Europe.
As we have seen, successful female founders and female leadership are important, but elusive. But the 17 companies founded exclusively by women prove that they can thrive, nonetheless. They are:
Our results show that, in fintech, women are six times more likely to be heads of marketing than CEOs and nearly ten times more likely to be heads of HR. As a progressive industry, fintech is adopting the behaviors that have been prevalent for many years in traditional financial institutions.
It is time to redesign and reconstruct the roles of women in our industry. It is vital for women to build on their experience by taking on responsibility in financial management such as profit and loss, and to get involved in business development, sales, and C-level positions in order to excel. I personally want them to aim for roles that are pivotal in a company – if not CEO, then COO, CCO, CTO/CPO or a more empowered and commercially minded CMO.
By developing commercial skills women set themselves up for entrepreneurship and independence.