Women in FinTech: preparing for the future of work has been saved
Women in FinTech: preparing for the future of work
It is widely acknowledged that FinTech has a gender diversity problem. In fact, I wrote an article on this for the FinTech blog series just over a year ago now. In that article I discussed the three separate – but connected - reasons why the industry has an existing issue with gender diversity. These included the fact that too few women work in Fintech companies, that these companies don’t have female founders or leaders, and that women are under-represented in the FinTech user base.
But whilst it’s important to address the challenges of today, we should also question gender diversity in the future of the industry.
So, how can we address the gender gap in the sector and at the same time adequately prepare for the needs of future roles?
In this blog, I’ll discuss how women can and should play a bigger role in the industry, and how by understanding the way in which FinTech companies will work in the future, we can prepare women to fill these roles and support the young women of today in becoming the FinTech leaders of tomorrow
First, it is vital that we have a better understanding of the full spectrum of roles in FinTech today, but also what this will look like in a decade or two decades’ time. Conversations around the future of FinTech roles have so far been dominated by discussions around getting more girls and women into STEM subjects, which whilst laudable and undoubtedly foundational, may not be the only or indeed the dominant right course of action.
Future skills won’t necessarily be identical to what is required today; AI and Machine Learning are likely to mean that fewer coders and software developers are needed. It will be about more than just coding: business development, customer empathy and creativity will become even more crucial as FinTechs mature, for example.
We therefore must continue to encourage girls, at all levels of education, to study subjects that will equip them to work in the future FinTech industry and find their ‘product market fit’. Be it through purposeful’ work experience at school, to studying economics at A-level, to business apprenticeships, girls and women can develop the skills needed to harness a career in the future FinTech industry.
Further, future jobs may also require softer skills than coding and software developing. Emotional intelligence (EQ), for example, will increasingly become an asset for FinTech companies, from winning over investors to interviewing prospective employees to successfully connecting with customers. The assumption will be that as these skills are increasingly valued by the industry there will be greater gender diversity in sectors like FinTech, reflecting the gender split between systemising and empathising mindsets in the current workforce. This traditional association of EQ skills with women in the workforce is, of course, based on a specific view of ‘who does what’ in the industry today.
However, whilst the industry takes its time to realign that view, women should be encouraged to champion these skills and use them as a stepping stone into the industry. This will mean a greater focus on issues relating to behavioural science, for example philosophy; science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM); creativity, or a broader ‘growth mindset’, as Deloitte’s Future of Work research has examined.
Whilst there undoubtedly should be a focus on developing female employees, solutions must also reflect the barriers that female founders and entrepreneurs face. We know that women founders face bigger hurdles than male founders in securing equity finance, but do the same hurdles apply to debt finance, and how will this map on to where founders seek capital from in the future? Surely a great opportunity for the enlightened providers of debt and equity finance? The Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship helps us to get a better understanding of this which is paramount to addressing the gap.
The motivations of female founders and employees must also be considered, including within sub-sectors of FinTech such as payments. Many founders have a moral dimension of greater purpose in their work, which often drives them more than financial rewards. The sector must adapt to reflect this.
There will be no silver bullet to this problem, but through trying to understand the direction in which this industry is heading, and therefore the roles that women can aspire to in the future, will ensure we can safeguard the future of the FinTech industry.