I believe it’s important for us to talk about breaking the bias, offer advice and help to empower and uplift each other every day, not just on dedicated days like International Women’s Day.
Women in fintech are still underrepresented, especially in leadership team positions where women make up 11% of all board members and 19% of company executives according to the Fintech Diversity Radar. The report shows that 1.5% of 1,032 best-funded private fintech firms globally are founded solely by women. Of that, they receive just 1% of total fintech venture funding.
There is clearly a diversity issue. And it not only affects the numbers on paper, but it also affects how companies are run, how people think and the decisions that are made.
Being the only woman in the room
We often underestimate how much diversity in a group positively influences ways of working. Understanding this and learning from different life experiences and perspectives allows for an inclusive culture and impactful decision making. If you are one of only a few women or even the first to step into those rooms, it can be a daunting experience. I encourage everyone going through this experience, to keep on showing up. Every dynamic we change today will make a positive impact on future generations.
In 2018, Deloitte published a report on the impact of diversity and inclusion in the workplace and suggested that companies with an inclusive culture are six times more likely to be innovative. That’s massive!
Changing dynamics is important. When we offer genuine interest into understanding the people we work with, we are able to collaborate, challenge and offer feedback in a more constructive way. This is the way we break bias. In my view, if we create environments of forgiveness and trust, we can also influence others and build stronger relationships. I believe this will enable us to create inclusive dynamics for not only women but for everyone.
You can do it!
I often wish there was more advice readily available for me when I started my journey into fintech. My previous role – which was in the alcohol industry – didn’t prepare me for the diverse and technical world of fintech. But it has taught me an important lesson and challenged one of my own, and business-wide, bias: you don’t have to be from fintech to work in fintech.
Moving into fintech taught me that I can learn new skills and gather the knowledge I need to succeed. I also broke my own insecurity when it came to asking people for help. I always felt embarrassed to do that – what would they think if I didn’t understand the technical term? Would they think less of me? I learnt to accept that I don’t have to be perfect.
I’ve always felt that I had to be perfect. I had to do a great job and make sure everyone was happy all the time. I felt I had to be whatever people wanted. Which is impossible. Instead, I have learnt to have more compassion for myself. And that’s a lesson I’d like to pass on – any decision taken from a place of courage will be scary and vulnerable, so be kind to yourself through the journey.
If you hold your head high and your heart open you will be able to overcome anything. Don’t let fear make your career choices. I’ve learnt that when I approached my insecurities with humility, the teams would be more than willing to teach and collaborate with me.
You can learn anything you put your mind to and be kind to yourself, first and foremost.
Another piece of advice I have for anyone looking to move into fintech is to go to conferences and network. There are webinars, conferences and dedicated websites to all the ins and outs of the industry. Take your time and learn. And don’t be afraid to ask for help!
You need to get out there and find out what your thing is. Because fintech is huge, and there is so much there for you to discover.
This International Women’s Day, I’d like my takeaway message to be twofold: be kind to yourself, and learn that having more voices that are different in the room is better for everyone.
Happy International Women’s Day!