Fintech Futures: Pressing for Progress for Women in Finance

The Government Equalities Office (GEO) has pushed for transparency around the gender pay gap, asking all companies with 250 or more employees to report their own pay gap by 4 April this year. As new research by PwC suggests, that parity would see women across the UK paid £90 billion more every year; the need for change is abundantly clear.

In response to the issue, we set out to learn more about what some of the UK leaders—both men and women—in the field of finance, tech and fintech felt about the topic and its wider concerns. What we found was a remarkable determination to reject the status quo and to press for progress.

Changing corporate culture

Considering the benefits that change offers, big names such as HSBC pro-actively call on diversity to bring progress to their business model.

Diana Biggs, head of digital innovation at HSBC for the UK explains: “Difference drives innovation: at HSBC UK, we actively seek different ideas, backgrounds and perspectives because it creates business value, it helps us to innovate and it enables us to better serve our customers.”

Instilling confidence in generations to come

Yet, more must be done. With fewer examples of female leadership to look up to, it is less likely for women to aspire to senior positions themselves.

Devie Mohan, co-founder and CEO of Burnmark, believes in the importance of being a mentor and gravitates toward groups on social media that support women in the industry: “At one stage in your career, you need that. You need to find like-minded people with a similar background to you, who can help you climb up that ladder.”

Encouraging leadership

In order to truly demonstrate the importance of female leadership, the influence on the success of businesses—as well as the finance industry as a whole—must be shown.

Helene Panzarino, MD, Rainmaking Colab FinTech London, is keen to sing the praises of females in senior positions: “We now have proof that having women in a business from the top down has a positive financial, creative, and market impact.” She continues: “Diversity in my own team sets the best example and putting the women forward for advancement roles, high profile projects, speaking and mentoring opportunities enriches not only their professional lives but the lives of women and men who they influence and support.”

Sparking conversations

As pioneers of change, women need to carefully consider how we talk about the issue. I am personally proud to work for a company that encourages its employees—male and female—to take on leadership roles. We do this by discussing opportunities using language that inspires women around the business to know that the senior positions are there for them.

Being inclusive

Normalising the language around women’s participation in leadership is a step towards a larger goal: positioning equality as a collective problem, instead of a woman-exclusive initiative. It takes the involvement of all people—both women and men—to move from conversation into implementation.

Bobby Lane, accountant at Blick Rothenberg, comments: “Over the years, our accountancy practice has helped many start-ups and fast growing companies. If the business idea is great and the founder has the talents to build a business, they will be successful. Clearly ambition and drive regardless of gender should be celebrated.”

We still have a long way ahead of us. Changing corporate culture, encouraging and mentoring the next generation as well as bringing our businesses closer to gender parity will take time. But as the leaders in our niche, it falls upon us to press for progress, and be the role models that most of us never had.

Originally published on Fintech Futures on 8 March 2018.