When I first started in fintech I used to play a game. I’d see how often I could use all my fingers to count the women in a meeting or office space. Sadly, it was rare.
Have things gotten any better? Last year EY reported that male workers outnumbered female workers 2-to-1 in the UK fintech industry. There is clearly a diversity issue. And it not only affects the numbers on paper but also how companies are run, how people think and the decisions that are made.
With this year’s International Women’s Day theme focused on equity, we need to take a step back and look at the problem from the beginning. It starts with our people – more specifically, hiring them.
This is because several barriers hold women back from fintech, and one of the biggest is historical precedent. Fintech is based on two industries (financial services and technology) that are traditionally male-dominated.
Take technology; women just don’t have the numbers yet. But the good news is, change is in the air. Getting young girls interested in tech through coding has exploded, with charities like Girls Into Coding, Girl Code and Girls Code Too tapping into this excellent idea.
At Mettle, we work with Code First Girls, a provider of free coding courses for women in the UK, and have hired two new engineers from the programme. You can read all about Esther and Kasia’s journeys from careers in construction and sales to becoming engineers at a fast-growth fintech. It’s truly inspiring.
And this is what embracing equity needs to be about. Equality is the goal, equity means offering the same opportunities to everyone so we all have a chance to succeed.
This is something that I had the honour to speak about recently on the Siegel+Gale IWD panel about equity and what it means. I heard from other women leaders in marketing about how their companies are pushing boundaries to ensure equal and fair access to all.
It was fantastic to hear them highlight not just promoting more women but also hiring more women. We all agreed you need a healthy pipeline to ensure some get to the top. We also discussed how critical our marketing messages are to that recruiting and cultural shift – if your advertising is not reflective of the population, and not inclusive or diverse, you cannot expect to promote a culture of inclusivity and diversity at your company.
Ensuring our male-to-female employee ratio stays as equitable as possible is critical to us at Mettle, especially since we’ve been growing rapidly. Despite rapidly hiring, we’ve managed to do just that. More than that, I’m pleased to say we’ve increased the number of women on the leadership team, and I have two wonderful female colleagues who inspire and push me every day (and who are always up for a glass of wine to discuss these things!)
Of course, everyone needs to do their part to ensure equity and equality – men and women both. I’m pleased to say that I’ve found that at Mettle, all employees are committed to this. I’m excited about the future. It looks like I’ll be using my fingers, my toes, and more to count our great women!