FinTech has been regarded by some as a disruptive force in the financial services sector. Has FinTech impacted women in the sector in any way? Are women in FinTech coping with the changes?
Singapore held its very first FinTech Festival on 14 – 18 November 2016, and only about 15% of its attendees were women. At the conference “Women in Tech”, moderator Sharanjit Leyl asked speakers Erika Irish Brown, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Bloomberg LP; Susan Hwee, Head of Group Technology and Operations, UOB; and Ruth Polachek, CEO and Co-Founder, FinCheck what they thought women could contribute to the FinTech sector.
Brown shared that Bloomberg is still in the process of driving inclusion and creating a conducive work environment for women, especially in management positions. They have made a public commitment to strive to maintain having 30% of women in senior roles. Polachek shared that her women targeted non-profit organisation, She Codes holds 30 events every week to bring women in tech closer as a community.
Women are Just as Talented
Every sector needs to move with the times. Women have equal opportunities in education and talent development. And in the FinTech industry, talent and experience are of particular importance.
“Male dominated industries are showing an increase in the number of women,” commented Polachek. “There is an incredible rate of growth [in Tech], like other industries…the number of women [in the workforce] are also increasing.”
FinTech should not be left behind. Women should encourage each other and consider FinTech as a possible career path as there are tremendous opportunities for them to excel.
Gender and Diversity—Challenges?
“[Diversity] is a need-to-have. It’s a business imperative and that’s how we have approached it in Bloomberg.”
It is important to look at the talent that diversity offers, especially for larger companies, as Hwee shared. It should not be a gender imperative, but a business imperative.
Job descriptions can be gender biased, and this can affect the number of women that apply for certain jobs. There isn’t a shortage of talent in the world, but rather the interest, so women who are interested in attempting to step into FinTech should be encouraged to pursue their interests to grow female talent in this industry.
Women also have issues they need to juggle; family life and social stigma, but it’s about taking the first step. With She Codes, there is strong community support for women who are in the industry—it supports women who are already in the workforce, and other women who are interested can gain exposure.
Similarly, Bloomberg is attempting to open women up to the possibilities from a younger age through various sponsorship and mentoring programmes; to try and cultivate the next generation.
Women Increase Profits
Statistics have shown that women increase profits for organisations. “More women in leadership positions add 6% to the profitability of a company,” shared Leyl. In FinTech, there isn’t much difference.
When an organisation or company has diversity in employees, it increases the chances of profits. Why? In general, having staff who come from diverse backgrounds create a platform for more discourse in conversations and facilitates the innovation process, challenging norms and leading to better decisions being made.
Women and Innovation
“Women are people. In many households, women happen to be the CFOs.”
Most of the innovations in finance revolve around consumers and women can contribute from the inside of the organisations as they are also consumers in their right. There are opportunities within the business community that women can explore.
UOB’s Lady’s Card, for example, runs on the tagline “The Men Don’t Get It” and to some extent, they don’t. Women understand what makes other women tick, and if innovation is going to revolve around how consumers spend (of which women tend to spend more on shopping and lifestyle products), then women in the sector would be able to contribute to the development of FinTech.
The impact of diversity on innovation is in the creative idea. Create a product that measures gender diversity impact on business. Diversity makes you think outside the box and increase creativity that can boost the productivity of the business.
Benefits for Women are a Two-Way Street
- Women can see what female consumers may want better. There are problems that women can help to solve and contribute to the community.
- FinTech is a growing industry that has many opportunities for women to explore.
- Having access to technology can enable women to juggle their responsibilities in and out of work.
The Singapore FinTech Festival 2016 was held at Singapore Expo Hall 1 & 2 from 14 – 18 November 2016. The above article was based on the conference dialogue:
WOMEN IN TECH
Global FemTech leaders discuss what women in tech mean in the new economy and share the opportunities & challenges in finding & nurturing the right female talent in the tech world.
Sharanjit Leyl, News Presenter, BBC
Erika Irish Brown, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Bloomberg LP
Susan Hwee, Head of Group Technology and Operations, UOB
Ruth Polachek, CEO and Co-Founder, FinCheck
Read also: Female FinTech Founders: Women Who Created Kickass FinTech Companies
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