This October at The Fintech Times is all about shining a spotlight on the incredible women working in the fintech industry, sharing their greatest achievements, their biggest challenges and how they can make a difference fostering women’s careers.
Though progress has been made to reduce the gender gap in fintech, the industry still has far to go until it hits true representation and champions full equality.
To help highlight the influential and significant contributions of women to the industry, we asked influential fintech leaders (who just so happen to be women) to share their thoughts on how the gender diversity in the industry has evolved since they first started their careers.
A better balance
Misty Beaulieu, head of operations & risk, North America, at Worldline, the 4th largest payments company, said:
“Starting in this industry 15 years ago, it was predominantly male while many roles for women were largely administrative in nature. While there is still a long way to go to reach a better balance in the payments and fintech industry amongst senior roles, the representation of women in the fintech workforce has massively evolved in just this short time and has certainly become more accessible and welcoming. At Worldline, North America, I can proudly say that our local Operations and Risk teams that I manage are close to a 50/50 split of employees that identify as women/men.
“Innovation and more collaborative problem solving has grown exponentially over the years, with this greater diversity in opinion, knowledge and lived experiences. The ability to see multiple use cases, personas and groups has allowed us to solve not only more issues overall but do this more creatively and holistically as diverse teams are able to better understand how various groups intersect and overlap with one another.”
Debbie Kennedy, CEO of LifeSearch, a UK independent protection specialist, said:
“The entry into this industry is somewhat easier today, helped by the growing awareness of roles that are open to all genders and some strong role models to take inspiration from. There’s real scope today too to nurture an entrepreneurial mindset for people to set up their own businesses, which I believe can suit a lot of working mums.
“However, I still don’t believe we’re really capturing younger girls that follow a STEM degree route as many are then not choosing a career in fintech. It’s disappointing too that female representation at a senior level is still low. Addressing the rise of women at an entry level will help boost that in the future, but we also need to focus on retention; many talented women, particularly after parenthood, can drop out of the industry or change track which is still an issue that as an industry we need to acknowledge and address.”
Rooting for success
Katherine Garrod, CISO and VP digital workplace at digital payments platform, PPRO, said:
“There has been a notable improvement in the past twenty years. Instead of being the only female in the room, often feeling like the 1 per cent, there will now be a handful of us. Personally I feel more at ease when I’m surrounded by other women. I am also rooting for their success and keen to demonstrate behaviours along the idea that you should “be the change you want to see in the world” and if I can be courageous, outspoken and confident, then I will hopefully make other women in the room feel as though they can do the same.”
An inclusive industry
Bhumi Bhutani, co-founder of the fintech auto app startup Way.com, said:
“The industry has become far more inclusive- in not only from a gender and diversity perspective but also from an age perspective. I recall distinctly that close to a decade ago, industry leader make-up had primarily been older, Caucasian males. As a young 30-year-old Indian-American female, this was initially unnerving. I did not have the knowledge base nor experience I have a decade later, but when I started, I felt it would be difficult for others to trust me as I was not, from the looks of it, the most relatable in the room.
“Sometimes, I was suggested to provide a more Caucasian-sounding name, like “Betty” or “Barbara.” I was determined not to take this advice as I had grown up in the Central Valley of California in the early 80s and 90s. Most of my neighbors were Amish and Portuguese. If these lovely communities could pronounce my name and come closer than family to me, then I’m sure others in the industry would be just fine.”
Scratching the surface
Lindsay Soergel, chief product and customer experience officer at conversational AI platform, Kasisto, said:
“There have definitely been positive recent advances in DEI. In the early stages of my career, middle management was the domain of female leaders. There were often only one or two chairs at the senior executive table reserved for women, and those were usually in Human Resources and maybe Marketing or Legal functions. It was a true anomaly to see P&L owners in the C-suite. So, it’s wonderful to see how much this has changed; however, we are nowhere close to the level of equity that’s warranted by the contribution of women in tech. And when it comes to women of color and LGBTQ+ people, well, we have not even scratched the surface of potential.”
Optimistic for opportunities
Alma Angotti, partner, financial crime, fraud & investigative services, Guidehouse, providers of consulting services to the public sector and commercial markets said:
“I think a career in fintech is easier now because there are so many options. The fintech landscape is experimenting with so many new concepts and businesses that there are lots of opportunities. I also think that businesses are more aware of the value of diversity in the broadest sense – of gender, race, orientation, of background and experience – that there are real opportunities to make a difference. Maybe I am optimistic!”