Levelling the Playing Field for Women in the UK FinTech Sector – Close, But No Cigar…. | The Financial Technologist

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Preconceptions Having been raised in a robust female-dominated household, I was guilty of be...

Preconceptions Having been raised in a robust female-dominated household, I was guilty of believing that the issue of inequality in the workplace was exaggerated. I was under the impression that the working world was based on a meritocracy, and the reason that I did not get the promotions I wanted was that I simply did not deserve it - this is a ‘much-travelled’ path for women lacking self-confidence and self-belief. While it is true that I sometimes was not where I needed to be to get the recognition I felt I deserved, the majority of the time, it was that I was pigeon-holed as being too ‘aggressive’, confident, or ambitious for leadership roles – traits that were celebrated for my male counterparts. Now that I am less guilty of suffering from ‘Sancta simplicitas,’ I can view the stats below with fresh eyes and see I was sadly mistaken. I no longer believe J.M. Keynes’s statement about ‘lies, damn lies, and statistics’ and that you can manipulate stats to fit whatever narrative you crave. The truth is plain to see. The reality • Women hold only 17% of major technology roles – Eurostat • 30% of the FinTech workforce is female & only 10% hold senior executive roles – Deloitte • 44% of menopausal women in employment say their symptoms have impacted their ability to work. This is despite 80% saying their workplace has no essential support in place for them – no support networks (79%), no absence policies (81%), and no information sharing with staff (79%) - Fawcett Equality Menopause Study May 2022 However, probably the most telling stats that truly measure the gap between men and women in FinTech and, more importantly, the difference in career stage within the gender gap, come from the EY & Innovate Finance June 2022 report: • 58% of senior men agree that the FinTech industry is diverse, followed by 39% of mid-level and junior men, compared to only 26% of senior women and 12% of mid-level to junior women • 70% of senior men believe that FinTech is inclusive, followed by 58% of mid-level to junior men, compared to 35% of senior women and 25% of mid-level to junior women • 94% of women feel confident about expressing their views and suggestions at work, but only 80% think their input is acted upon. This compares to a lower 88% percent of men who feel heard, but 94% believe their ideas are implemented. The path forward Introducing new generations to tech is a crucial play by the UK Government & FinTech industry. “Upskilling and reskilling have become a key part of the UK’s dominance in tech, with 3,000 edtech start-ups having raised a collective £1.7 billion in funding over the past five years. Companies such as Academy, Code First Girls, Immersive Labs, and Multiverse are focused on enabling people of all ages to gain the skills they need to succeed in tech roles, from tech apprenticeships to coding, development, and cyber security.” GOV.UK – Dec 2022 There are other encouraging signs of steps toward inclusion where individual FinTech institutions are setting up in-house HR programmes for the menopause, and we are increasingly seeing new C-level roles created with diversity as their remit. Additionally, there are multiple groups that support women, and I am proud to be an ambassador for one of them, Women of Fintech (WoF). All fulfill the role of offering mentoring (you talk), coaching (you both talk), and advocacy (you are championed by a peer or superior), as well as plenty of networking. The Women of Fintech community is free to join; we charge our members a £10 one-off-annual fee to attend our various educational events. This £10 then funds STEM projects such as getting women back into work after maternity, support on coding courses for schoolgirls, professional training & work placements for those that are socially disadvantaged and unable to afford university, and sponsorship of events such as Pride. All our activities are aimed at being helpful to our members, from a cheats guide overview to FinTech and key glossary terms for new entrants, to lectures on ‘lessons learned’ on how to accelerate your career for mid-management, to how you deal with issues such as menopause and implementing a policy within your workplace.  The Bottomline DE&I and promoting women in FinTech is an ongoing project. We need more focus on DE&I at key industry events similar to what we were exposed to at Sibos 2022 & Money 2020 Europe, where we saw women demonstrating their expertise during panel sessions and keynotes. We need our colleagues, including those identifying as men, to be team players and advocates for us when we do well and help push us toward getting the recognition we deserve. We must also prioritise having internal company and community tools in place to ensure everyone feels supported and understood in their workplace. Most importantly, we need to have more confidence in ourselves as women and not be intimidated about striving for what we want – whether that be a promotion, new job title, pay rise, flexible employment package, or support for personal issues. The UK continues to be the most attractive destination for FinTech in Europe despite recent temporary hiccups. Investments in the sector grew by 9.1 billion in the first half of 2022, including over 1,600 firms (a number that is projected to double by 2030). The FinTech sector contributes an estimated $13.4 billion (£11 billion) and over 76,000 jobs to the UK economy, according to Trade.Gov September 2022. Therefore, we are well-positioned to be the poster child for positive change in DE&I. Women are not after special treatment or positive discrimination. We want what I was raised to believe in - a meritocracy where the best can succeed no matter their race, nationality, creed, or gender they identify as. Now is the time for action. What will you do to play your part in ‘real’ change? Read more articles like this in The Financial Technologist. Download your free copy here.
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