Fintech has a gender diversity problem — here’s how we tackle it

Diversity can both empower individuals and spark feelings of inclusion across society. It encourages different perspectives and promotes tolerance and understanding amongst workplaces. And in business, quite rightly, the topic has entered the mainstream.

Take the engineering industry as an example, where gender equality figures are showing an encouraging steady upwards trajectory. In law, female representation across the world is also reputable. Both show gender equality is slowly, but surely, moving in the right direction, but sadly in financial technology (Fintech), the same is yet to be realised.

A report by Innovate Finance found women still account for less than 30% of the Fintech workforce, with less than 20% in executive positions. By 2026, the industry is estimated to grow by 20%, hitting the $324 billion mark in value, meaning that the gender gap will soon widen even further.

But how can Fintech continue to progress and thrive if it isn’t a desirable industry for all? Clearly, the industry needs to do more. The question is, how?

1. Make first impressions count

It’s important that Fintechs are wary of language used when drafting job descriptions. They must be careful not to shun potential female candidates by using stereotypically male-associated creative titles that inadvertently stop women from clicking on job adverts. Using neutral descriptive language that appeals to all, such as ‘People Lead’ or ‘Sales Executive’, throughout is wise.

On average, most men apply for a job when they meet 60% of the criteria listed on a job description. Meanwhile, most women only apply if they meet 100%. With this in mind, ensuring a condensed list of ‘nice to haves’ and ‘must haves’ is beneficial to ensure this outdated pitfall is eliminated.

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2. Build a reputable brand

Studies prove that not having a strong brand strategy can reduce a company’s turnover by as much as 28%. Recruiting and hiring is essentially selling a brand to potential new hires. So it’s vital Fintechs speak directly with candidates, getting across key brand messages, as well as clearly outlining the company’s ethos and values, and explaining how working for the business business will enrich their working lives.

Having reputable PR is another top tip for Fintechs. Strong reviews and recommendations through online platforms – like Glassdoor – prove invaluable. And it’s vital these reviews demonstrate a company culture that respects and values women, no matter their level in the business.

3. Don’t get stuck in your own echo chamber

The ‘perfect culture-fit’ does not exist. And if Fintech leaders become stuck trying to find it, they risk attracting and hiring more of the same people every time. This doesn’t add to culture, rather it makes businesses become echo chambers.

Instead, Fintechs should look to hire candidates that add new skills to their organisation. This will drive productivity, as different experiences create interesting discussions and ideas that spark innovation.

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4. Celebrate diverse skills

So-called ‘soft skills’ are often found in female candidates. These skills enable a greater ability to dictate the workforce’s pace by placing a greater focus on empathy and understanding. This is because they are essential for any corporate environment, boosting productivity and improving business-wide communication – ‘softness’ does not equate to weakness by any means.

5. It starts from the top

And finally, Fintechs must be prepared; if they’re happy to talk the talk, they’d better be prepared to walk the walk. But this must come from the senior leadership as anything implemented from the top will always trickle down.

It’s the responsibility of leaders to educate their workforce, challenge their recruitment strategies and external recruiters, and implement policies that overwhelm unconscious bias. Only then will we see a force for good occur in the industry addressing the very real gender diversity problem in Fintech.

Written by Nabilah Hussain, head of FinCrime at 3S Money

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