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Creating inclusive pathways for working mothers in fintech

We take a look at how the fintech industry can evolve to break down the barriers that limit working mothers from fulfilling their career aspirations.

While female representation in the financial services sector is on the rise, many companies struggle to establish equitable pathways for career progression among working mothers. Mothers in the workforce face significant disparities, ranging from role stagnation and lower wage growth to overt changes in how they’re treated by colleagues and senior leadership, in stark contrast to their male counterparts.

To establish the kind of workplace culture that actively supports women in all seasons of life, as an industry we must aim to foster honest dialogue around the structural and social barriers that persist today. In the same breath, we need to offer solutions that effectively address the disparities that frequently hold working mothers back from progressing in the fintech industry.

The motherhood penalty

According to a National Women’s Law Center analysis, a total of 2.3 million women left the U.S. workforce in 2020, either through job loss or stepping down to care for their children. To put this figure into perspective, before the pandemic, the rate of women actively participating in the workforce had not been this low since 1988.

Even as more women are moving into senior leadership positions, many still struggle to progress during the pivotal middle years of their careers. Navigating the dual responsibilities of work and home often feels like fragmenting oneself into tiny portions until there's nothing substantial left to offer. As the struggle to strike a balance between professional and personal priorities intensifies, it's not uncommon for women to find themselves confined to roles below their expertise or overlooked for opportunities to advance.

These experiences have been aptly identified as the "motherhood penalty," which relegates already ambitious women to a noticeable decrease in perceptions of competency and job commitment. As a result, this leads to reduced chances of securing career advancement or employment altogether.

Overcoming biases and the associated punitive costs that mothers and other caregivers face requires changing gendered norms and attitudes about motherhood while also recognizing the many strengths and unique talents these women bring to their respective roles. For example, these strengths include the ability to offer diverse perspectives, empathy, mentorship, leadership, adaptability, and the promotion of work-life balance – all of which are known to improve levels of productivity, attract talent, boost employee morale, and elevate the organization's reputation.

The positive impact of flexible working models

We’ve seen external trends such as hybrid and remote working models have a positive impact on female representation in the fintech industry as a whole. The more flexible working environment has empowered more caregivers to strike a better balance between their private and professional lives.

In addition, these shifts provide working mothers with the opportunity to create an environment that will enable them to further their professional development and become more visible, which will in turn drive higher rates of productivity across the organization.

Access to affordable childcare remains one of the biggest challenges for parents who work outside the home, and the repercussions of this can be seen across the globe, with many companies citing childcare as a reason they're seeing employees leave. While the rates vary by region, working parents on average spend around 27% of their household income on childcare, which is not only a challenge for families but particularly for single parents.

Employee resource groups (ERGs) for parents, such as Paysafe’s Families network, can provide broader support to working mothers and caregivers. These groups offer valuable space to share ideas about overcoming the hurdles we typically face as working parents and shine a light on experiences in the workplace.

ERGs are not only a great way for employees to interact with colleagues in similar situations and establish a sense of community, but they also enable employees to collaborate on solutions that enhance workplace policies and create an inclusive environment for all to thrive. These groups can be utilized as a vessel to impart internal policy changes that provide elevated support for working mothers and caregivers on numerous fronts.  

In essence, true flexibility in the workplace should be authentically adaptable, aiming to create an inclusive environment where each employee can thrive both professionally and personally. Therefore, meaningful dialogue plays a crucial role in understanding the unique needs of individual employees, including working mothers and caregivers, and tailoring solutions that best suit them.

Creating inclusive pathways

Offering internal and external affinity networks as well as enhanced management support are also essential for mothers to flourish and succeed within the workplace. Managers can achieve this through opportunities that foster professional development and provide access to mentors.

Another solution is to call for broader advocacy around motherhood in the workplace by improving recruitment practices to give candidates with gaps in employment a fair chance as well as creating accessible and transparent promotions and performance appraisal processes.

Promoting male and female senior role models who work flexibly while taking care of their families can be a powerful way of confronting harmful stereotypes. As an industry, the more we do this, the more impact we can have over the long term in breaking down the barriers that limit working mothers from fulfilling their career aspirations.

To conclude, creating an environment that empowers mothers to balance their personal and professional aspirations in a culture that embraces flexible working is imperative. This approach should also be bolstered by family-friendly policies alongside access to employee resource networks to dispel preconceived notions about the role of motherhood in the workplace.

If we coalesce in the present, we will see more women feeling confident that they can have a sustainable and successful career, supporting working mothers in our industry for future generations.

To learn more about working at Paysafe, visit the Paysafe Careers page.