Women in Fintech: The Status Quo in 2022 and How They Can Push Businesses Forward
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Financial technology (fintech) has become one of the most innovative and forward-looking industries in 2022. Germany in particular demonstrates high growth potential. As early as 2016, a study by the German Federal Ministry of Finance (Bundesfinanzministeriums) predicted an increase in market volume to €97 billion, which corresponds to a growth rate of 167%.
For a business sector that is so strongly focused on the future and aims to break with traditional structures, one would expect that the issue of gender equality would not be a major issue. But fintechs are still lagging behind in terms of women in leadership positions, especially in Germany.
In celebration of today’s International Women’s Day, we will dedicate this week to this year’s motto #BreakTheBias and break with prejudices against women in the fintech industry. To start the conversation, we interviewed female founders and financial experts as well as Pentonians, who have all shared their views on equality in the finance and tech industry.
In this article, we explore the status quo for women in fintech, what companies can do to counteract gender inequality, and how women can effectively drive innovation and business success.
Traditional banks as a (not so) good example?
Fintechs see themselves as the banks of the future.This may be true when it comes to innovative functions and user advantages.
But the study “Women in Financial Services 2020” by Oliver Wyman has shown that the share of female executives at management level was a mere 14%. Traditional banks, on the other hand, had a share of 23%.
Even if traditional banks are slightly ahead, they are still far from being a good example. And despite fintechs having a technical edge, they still need to rethink how they can effectively address the issue of gender equality and emancipation in the workplace.
Diana Biggs, Global Head of Innovation
Shortage in leading positions
Even in 2022, women are comparatively rare in the management positions of fintechs.
The Fintech Diversity Radar by Findexable shows that just 11% of board members are female and – if we look at fintech CEOs – only 5.6% of seats are occupied by women.
Even when it comes to the Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) or Chief Technology Officer (CTO), which are indispensable in the innovation-driven field of financial technology, fewer than 4 % are women.
Differences during foundation
However, these discrepancies do not only occur in the staffing of existing companies. The Fintech Diversity Radar revealed that only 1.5% of fintechs worldwide were founded exclusively by women. Moreover, they receive only about 1% of the total global fintech funding.
It is also noteworthy that worldwide only eight companies founded by women have more than 1,000 employees – five in Asia, two in Europe and one in Latin America.
The USA set the bar high
Germany is lagging behind
Studies and statistical surveys have shown that Germany does not particularly excels in terms of gender equality in the fintech industry – in fact, quite the opposite is true.
Germany lags far behind in terms of gender diversity: in a comparison of the women’s share in the decision-making bodies of the largest listed companies in Europe, Germany was in fourth-last position in 2020, well below the average of all 27 EU countries.
Still looking for a job in fintech? You might find the right one at Penta.
How women can drive fintechs forward
Various studies have shown how higher gender diversity can have a significant positive impact on fintechs and their economic success. In the following, we would like to take a closer look at some of the benefits for companies.
Better and more diverse products
The lack of female representation in the industry impacts the quality and diversity of the industry’s products and hurts it right at the foundation.
Fintechs are missing out on a huge opportunity due to the often one-sided product perspective, as Joanne Bradford, president of US fintech Honey, also commented in the “Women in Financial Services 2020” study:
“If you consider the percentage of women who make household financial decisions, and you take a look at how much of the world’s discretionary income is controlled by women — then you’ll understand the untapped potential of our economic power. There are fintechs doing well, but they’d do a lot better if they addressed the needs of women in their products and in their workforce.”
Better KPIs through gender diversity
A series of studies summarised in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index back in 2014 showed that teams with increased diversity achieve their goals to a greater extent and also find more creative solutions.
Another McKinsey study also found that gender diversity led to 15% higher returns on average. The extent to which other factors were influential here is unclear. Nevertheless, other studies have come to similar conclusions.
Talent attracts talent
Harvard Business Review (HBR) published a research article in 2019 that found that a diverse workforce signals an attractive work environment for new talent and attracts it to a greater degree. 67% of job seekers look at workforce diversity when evaluating an offer.
Top female candidates in particular value a balanced work environment. A survey by HBR found that 61% of women look for gender diversity in the employer’s leadership team when deciding on a job.
This not only ensures a constant flow of new, talented employees for the future success of the company, but ultimately also relieves the recruiting team and thus saves costs.
What can companies do better?
Inclusion and diversity are now reflected in the hiring and corporate policies of some established financial institutions. Fintechs can demonstrate their future orientation here, build on it and drive change in the financial industry.
Especially in small and fast-growing startups, it is crucial that this issue is prioritised and not left to goodwill or, worse, only considered as an afterthought.
Networking can also enable women to identify opportunities and share experiences. The Fintech Ladies network, for example, offers both female experts and newcomers exactly that – under the motto “shape the future of finance”.
Such an exchange can also be beneficial within the company. For example, Penta established the Slack channel #penta-women.
Although this post only provides a rough overview of the current state of gender equality in fintechs, with more women working in fintechs in 2022 than ever before, it was able to show that companies still have a long way to go to improve the representation and influence of women in our sector.
Our content series for International Women’s Day continues on Wednesday. This time, Babett Mahnert, founding consultant and CEO of Goldfrau, tells us how female entrepreneurs can start their own business with more confidence and success.
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