There’s no doubt that our world is becoming more diverse. Across many industries, traditional gender stereotypes are falling by the wayside at a heartening pace, and research into diversity and inclusion is gaining positive ground.
This is driven in part by governments who have taken an active role in promoting female leadership, but also, by the rise of women in the workforce, a narrowing of gender pay gaps, and demographic shifts – such as women marrying and having children later.
It’s also encouraging to see several countries who have enacted legislation that mandates female participation on corporate boards.
“15 countries now have binding quotas for female participation, including India, Malaysia, and Pakistan, while 9 countries have non-binding quotas including Australia, and the UK1.”
However, while affirmative action and non-binding quota targets are important, they still need to be backed by more focused strategies to increase female participation. This includes an evaluation of workplace cultures, mentorship, recruiting, and training. In fact, recent research by McKinsey in 2020 supports this need.
“The proportion of women in the C-suite has only grown to 4% from 2015 to 2020, the number of female senior vice presidents has only increased 5% in the same period2, and roughly 2% of global venture dollars goes to female founders.”
In the fintech world, the situation is similar.
“In 2020, Deloitte reported that only 7% of global fintech founders are female3.”
The irony however is that according to the World Bank, women control more than US$216 trillion in wealth and according to Nielson, and women are responsible for up to 89% of purchasing decisions. This proves there’s immense social benefit for all stakeholders and the economy at large if female participation increases.
Our vision for females in fintech
As fintech has been famed as the crucible of creativity, disruption, and innovation, LU Global believes the sector needs increased participation from females to continue its growth trajectory.
“Fintech is a unique arena that not only requires knowledge in technology but also a melting pot of skills including innovative thinking, problem-solving, marketing, and creativity, not forgetting a great measure of agility to meet evolving market needs and respond to new situations. Therefore, representation from varying backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints makes for a more enriching experience for all industry stakeholders,” said, said, Joanna Tang, CEO LU Global
While it has been said that the pandemic could make this transition a greater challenge, we believe that companies with diverse staff are critical during times of uncertainty. When it comes to adjusting long-held internal processes and implementing recovery plans in the face of adversity, we believe a diverse set of voices are needed to drive change.
Our optimism is driven by our passion, and belief in the blueprint that technology has provided us which now allows for greater flexibility for female workers. As technology and fintech continue to advance rapidly, we’re proud to champion long-term change for women who are eager to pursue a career in this sector.
How to achieve more female participation in the world of fintech
At its heart, gender equality needs to be shaped by the very forces and movements that are bringing about an equal world. However, a more concrete set of steps can, and should be, taken to remedy some of the ingrained obstacles to female leadership in fintech.
The chief among these is enhanced attention to recruitment processes as many women find applying for a senior fintech role daunting. This perpetuates a vicious cycle whereby women remain under-represented.
This is supported by a 2018 study by LinkedIn that revealed that women are 20% less likely than men to apply for a role after viewing it on their platform4.
“At LU Global, we’ve been focussed on how our recruitment process is structured, what language is deployed in job outlines, and how our interviews are conducted in order to ensure our employer brand is open to both men and women equally. We also believe female-led fintech firms should play a role in identifying skills, and providing equitable access to training, mentorship and growth opportunities. ” said Janet Huang, HR Director, LU Global.
This is important to us at LU Global because we believe as female leaders, both in the fintech world, and those working for traditional financial institutions, have the ability to raise awareness, sensitivity, and recognition, and they stand to bring about much needed change.
Strategic partnerships will also play an important role. It speaks to the need for stronger internal communication between the women’s markets, and the fintech-focused teams inside the banks, and the need to incorporate gender-intelligent approaches at the beginning stages of potential partnerships.
“I believe senior-level executives, financial service providers, fintech associations, and even regulators should be a powerful role model for aspiring new female entrants. There’s an immense need for mentorship programs and other forms of dialogue and exchange to raise awareness of the need for more women in fintech. Female-focussed networking events, hackathons, and accelerators are just some examples of how we can foster a more gender neutral environment. Strategic partnerships with female-focussed financial institutions also offer an opportunity to attract female customers at scale,” said Ye Tingting, COO LU Global.
The bottom line
In the post-Covid era, diversity in the workplace is poised to acquire yet another tailwind. As work-from-home, and flexible family-friendly work arrangements are adopted more widely, many companies now accept this move as a win-win for all stakeholders.
Some might say, fintech is still in its relative infancy stages, however, as more and more legacy banks partner with fintech companies, it’s clear that fintech is a competitive sector that will continue to take shape as technology unfolds. Therefore, fintech leaders and founders bear a social responsibility to encourage more female participation and leadership.
“At the end of the day, the overarching goal should be to build businesses that are robust and responsive to the audiences they serve – women of course are now a big part of that audience,” said Joanna Tang, CEO at LU Global.
Most importantly, success in this area is a win for all.
Fintech companies stand to gain from more innovation and profitability by tapping into a more representative market, legacy financial providers can deepen their value to their existing female customer-base and acquire new female digital savvy sub segments, and for society as a whole, the increased representation could lead to more resilient economies and societies.
“At LU Global, we look forward to seeing the fintech industry with a vibrant and inclusive culture with equal representation from all genders and we’re certainly sowing the seeds in our own capacities and building a tide of positive change,” said Joseph Lim, Head of Business Development and Partnerships at LU Global.
- McKinsey, Featured Insights, Women in the Workplace, 2020
- Deloitte, Insights, Women in Fintech, by Alaina Sparks and Jim Eckenrode, 2020
- LinkedIn, Gender Insights Report: How Women Find Jobs Differently, 2017