Working for gender equality in the UK FinTech sector
The importance of diversity in the financial services industry has recently received increasing attention. We’ve covered these developments on our blog, including in our articles ‘Measuring Inclusion in the Financial Services Industry’ and ‘New FCA Policy Statement’, both published earlier this year.
Attention is now broadening to include diversity within the FinTech sector. This month, EY and Innovate Finance collaborated to publish a report on gender diversity within the sector (the Report) and what can be done to support women working in FinTech.
The FinTech sector
Given the importance of the FinTech industry in the UK and the great prospects it offers for the wider UK economy, the UK Treasury has shown keen interest in understanding what the future of the industry might look like. fintech industry. In this capacity, he commissioned an independent study, which resulted in the Khalifa Review. This review highlighted the lack of available talent and diversity as the main risks to the prospects for FinTech development. He suggested that better engagement with skilled workers at all levels and of all genders, races and ethnicities will support the continued growth and development of the industry.
Following the publication of the Khalifa Review, EY and Innovate Finance jointly published the report following a survey conducted between July and September 2021. As part of this, 240 industry players were interviewed, six focus groups were created and 15 senior executives participated in a roundtable to capture a broad and representative demographic of respondents.
The report highlights a number of disparities between men and women working in the FinTech sector. For example, it demonstrates that companies led by a female leader have reduced access to equity and debt financing. The report also identified that female employees are less inclined to negotiate their salary and bonuses, which could lead to or contribute to a gender pay gap in the industry.
What can employers do to change this?
As one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK, the importance of supporting women in the FinTech workspace is coming under greater scrutiny. The current ratio of men to women in the sector is said to be 2:1. In a sector where talent shortages and diversity have been identified as the greatest risks to development and growth, it is important that FinTech companies introduce new ways of working to help women advance in their careers in the sector. Ultimately, conducting business in a way that is aware of diversity and gender in the workplace can only help companies by giving them a wider pool of talent to choose from.
The report goes on to make a number of recommendations, focusing on four key areas.
- Support women founders in the growth of their business
The report explains that women leaders face more challenges when starting and growing their businesses because they have access to fewer resources than their male counterparts. Removing these resource barriers for female leaders provides an opportunity to rebalance the foundations from which all FinTech businesses can grow, making the sector more vibrant and robust.
To address some of these challenges, the report notes that supporting male champions, such as investors and industry leaders, can be key to demonstrating the value that women bring to the sector. This confidence in its female staff and support from the male contingent has the potential to positively filter through an organization as employees are encouraged by the example set by their leaders.
2. Create more inclusive work environments
The report highlights the importance of fostering a more inclusive work environment. This is an issue that is not limited to the FinTech sector as it is often a reason why employees decide to leave their position in any industry. However, due to the speed at which the FinTech sector has grown, existing work environments may no longer be suitable for everyone who works there. Employers can seek to change the nature of their working practices by updating HR policies and procedures (as well as talent management and reward processes), ensuring that appropriate support is in place for all part-time and full-time workers, and ensuring that flexible working arrangements are in place. instead of catering to a more diverse demographic of workers.
3. More robust and targeted recruitment and career support programs
FinTech employers should also consider assessing their recruitment practices to consider workplace gender and diversity early in their employees’ careers. By implementing changes at the recruitment stage and engaging with students considering a career in FinTech, there is an opportunity to further embed these changes as employees progress through their careers. It can also influence the attitudes and behaviors of existing employees. For example, companies could introduce a mentorship program between existing employees and students or newcomers to allow employees to share their thoughts and create a more open and collaborative work environment.
4. A data-driven business case for change
The report encourages employers to collect and use diversity data. Diversity data allows employers to collect information on wages and benefits as well as working conditions, in order to identify the differences that exist. Diversity data has proven to be a valuable resource in other industries where it is used to gain real insight into the workplace and how certain conditions can be improved for the benefit of the business and its people. . The data collection process can also provide employees with an anonymous opportunity to raise concerns about certain aspects of their role or the operation of the company, when they might not feel they have the possibility of doing so.
While the report acknowledges that some progress has already been made, it concludes that there is a positive opportunity to do more to improve gender equality in the sector. In addition to adopting the recommendations set out in the report, employers in the sector can offer training sessions and seminars to all workers at all levels to educate them on the benefits of working for gender equality and the benefits that might encourage. Such sessions can not only help raise awareness of the importance of gender equality, but could also create a forum for discussion between individuals, opening up the conversation beyond its current boundaries. This can encourage workers to reflect on their own attitudes and behaviors that could lead to positive changes at work.
The key message is that in a fluid and fast-paced industry, it’s important for employers to adapt to ensure top talent is recruited, retained, rewarded and supported. Without it, any progress towards gender equality will lose momentum and the UK’s prominent position as a leader in the FinTech sector could lose its stellar reputation, along with a strong pipeline of current and future talent. .