Gender diversity in fintech: Making a difference from the inside out
The fintech industry is often admired for its unparalleled level of growth.
Fintechs are behind the rapid product development that has changed the financial industry and the way consumers manage and understand their money.
But for an industry that is so progressive and forward-looking, there is still a huge imbalance in gender diversity from entry-level and junior roles all the way through to senior management and the C-suite.
It is a topic that is often covered both by the media and also internally by companies that want to address this themselves. But every year we continue to see significantly disproportionate numbers in gender diversity. So why aren’t we seeing a change?
At IFX, we are proud to have a strong 40:60 female:male ratio – significantly higher than the industry standard.
I’m approaching my tenth year in the industry, and find myself in a unique position, having sat on both sides of the hiring table. Reflecting on what I have observed, I can offer some key learnings from my own personal experience to give companies something to think about in their mission to be more inclusive.
Employability goes hand in hand with the ability to drive change. During my three years here, FX has gone through incredible growth and I am proud to now be in a position to have hiring power and be able to use it as a tool to challenge gender gaps across the sector.
When I went through the process of hiring myself, I observed that when I offered two roles, one junior and one senior, there was a clear gender distribution in terms of applications that did not necessarily reflect the candidate’s experience and skills.
Often I found that women applied for junior roles even when their experience was more suitable for the senior ones, and vice versa with male candidates. Being in a hiring position, I felt it was important to give the applicant this feedback and encourage greater confidence and constructive criticism in their abilities.
This observation prompted me to actively re-examine our external messaging about roles at IFX and consider the ways we describe our company, the roles and responsibilities, and the commitment we ask people to make. Here I outline my three best observations:
1. Position requirements
The first step to guaranteeing that you are appealing to the candidates with the most appropriate skills is to ensure that you as the recruiter have clear definitions of the difference between senior and junior and what the exact experience and expectations are of someone at this level.
Mapping core competencies, skills and experience to seniority, and identifying the best way to highlight this in the interview with the candidates, will help you know when a candidate is positive or underselling themselves.
Once these clear standards have been set, it is important that the job application is appealing and attractive to everyone at that level. As an employer, you should consider how the company’s guidelines are reflected in the language of the job advertisement and how this will be digested by the person reading it.
I noticed that job postings can be filled with language and phrasing that is more likely to appeal to men, and by making simple changes to more gender-neutral and inclusive language, I can make our roles more attractive to a wider range of candidates. I encourage those with hiring power to review their current job postings and analyze the perception the language used gives to potential employees.
3. Equally appealing
Ultimately, a role and company culture should appeal to candidates of any gender, as well as anyone of any race or social and economic background.
Topics that affect candidate welfare are those most likely to be asked in an interview, so addressing them in the job posting is likely to attract quality talent. Think about the homework protocol, guidance and parental leave money.
Industries that have historically been dominated by men often lack the management teams that have skills adapted to the growing female workforce. But with workplaces becoming more diverse, managers must learn to manage different communication styles and ways of working to make it more attractive to women across the board. Ultimately, for those in leadership positions, the goal is to draw the best out of your team to create better products. The more we work with our team, the better the results. So what is the answer? As women in the industry, we need to introduce more empathy to management to nurture female talent and drive greater change.
I think it’s a complicated issue, and we’re starting to understand that companies that take a holistic approach to diversifying their workforce aren’t always effective. I would argue that we need to analyze and truly understand each individual process, culture and positioning in order to make meaningful change, which is not limited or dependent on external factors.
Innovation and delivering the best work for clients can only happen if the teams are truly diverse in thought, and I put some of our best ideas at IFX down to the diverse teams we employ.
About the author
In her role as product manager at IFX, Rosie McConnell is responsible for establishing the deliverables and targets for IFX’s product offering. With over 10 years of experience in the Fintech sector, Rosie plays a key role in defining and prioritizing product roadmaps for IFX, as well as taking ownership of product development and the technological innovation of IFX. With a decade of industry experience under her belt, Rosie began her career at WorldPay in 2012 before joining Thomas Cook Money in 2018, after which she joined IFX.
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