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Diversity in fintech – A look at the status quo

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, it’s time to take a look at diversity in fintech from the perspective of female representation in the industry. With both finance and technology being traditionally male-dominated fields, we’ve typically seen a similar make-up in the fintech industry. However, this has slowly been changing, with a number of external factors creating a foundation for more diversity in the sector.

The pandemic and the ensuing hybrid and remote working models have clearly had a significant impact on diversity within fintech. Women, who traditionally carry the double burden of work and home responsibilities, and who have often had to choose between the two, are widely reported to have been the biggest beneficiaries of these new approaches. The more flexible working environment has empowered them to better balance their private and professional lives. And while these remote and hybrid working models weren’t introduced to support women in the industry, they have created an environment that will allow them to further their professional development and become more visible, which will in turn also attract new female applicants.

Another external factor that should not be overlooked is the current cost-of-living crisis and increased global migration resulting from the war in Ukraine. These macroeconomic influences have seen women become a larger part of the user base for fintech services, which has before also been dominated by male consumers. This is also expected to play a significant role leading to fintech companies carefully considering their female audiences when enhancing existing products and services and developing new ones. Consequently, more women will be involved in their development.

We’ve seen these external trends have a positive impact on female representation in the fintech industry as a whole. Additionally, there are certain roles that have historically attracted women. These roles tend to rely on softer skills, and this trend seems to be continuing on an upward trajectory. Examples of these roles are marketing and client servicing teams, which continue to attract female talent, along with risk, compliance and finance, which also have a fair representation of women. And with the industry’s increased focus on regulation and security, these teams have more opportunities to grow larger. Considered from this point of view, gender diversity in the fintech industry seems to be at a good level and progressing well.

However, there are other areas where the industry needs to put more focus in order to overcome a persistent challenge in attracting women. First and foremost, women are still under-represented in the more technical, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) based disciplines like security and product development. The preconceptions around these consistently male-dominated areas put women off pursuing careers in tech, which means there is a clear need for action to break the vicious cycle where the male dominance has continued far longer than the industry would like. This is reflected clearly by a push within the tech industry across the board for more female representation. At Paysafe, we as also see a crucial need to attract and retain a more diverse workforce in these areas and provide women with opportunities to progress into senior tech roles within the business. To help achieve this, we work closely with our learning and development teams.

To overcome the current lack of diversity, the industry as a whole should encourage women to participate in fintech. This would be most effective if STEM would be made more accessible to young girls early on in their education, which can only happen in collaboration with the education industry. Women need to feel empowered to embark on a tech career path. One way the fintech industry could support this effort would be to showcases more successful female role models in technical careers. The more we can do that, the more impact we can have over the long term in attracting women into these roles and dispelling the preconceived notion of being a male-dominated field.

In the shorter term, reviewing recruitment practices and adapting them for a female audience will be key. Fintech businesses can start by evaluating the way they are communicating job opportunities and whether they make a conscious effort to appeal to women just as much as to men. Training on unconscious bias and transparency about any family-friendly practices or policies which are embedded into the workplace will also help interviewers in the process. At Paysafe, we take these areas seriously throughout the full employee lifecycle. This helps us to not only reach more diverse candidates but retain them throughout the process, onboard them as employees and provide an inclusive workplace where they can progress in their careers.

As an industry, we need to put the spotlight on more women in technical areas and create role models. This will inevitably help us improve diversity in the long term. Fintech companies also have a role to play in better communicating what skills are valuable for a career in fintech and the variety of roles we have available. If we act today, we will see more women feeling confident that they can have a sustainable and successful career in our industry.