The following is a guest post from Johanna Le, Head of People at Ascend.
Fintech has always been predominantly male, and it’s the same across many industries, especially in the realm of STEM.
Some sources indicate that about 74% of middle school girls have an interest in STEM subjects, yet, data from Microsoft shows that this interest drops when they reach high school.
Today, women only hold less than 20% of all tech leadership jobs globally. This phenomenon can feel disheartening and isolating.
But this challenge is also an opportunity to create connections between people from different backgrounds, skills, and genders.
Here are three ways we can support women in fintech:
1) Build connections within the industry
Connections can exist at many scales — within teams, cross-functionally, or between different companies. It’s valuable to meet peers in the same industry to understand how we can work together towards the same common goal.
Sharing experiences and knowledge with others from the industry can give us a head start in a male-dominated and biased industry.
NYC Fintech Women is one of the organizations with the mission of supporting, promoting, and empowering women in their careers. They partner with fintech companies to host events to allow women in the Fintech industry to connect.
This organization believes in creating cohorts to build connections and power across the ecosystem — and believes that the companies that understand this significance will attract women as places where they might belong.
2) Allow for flexibility
2020 turned our collective work-life upside down. Finding balance became impossible for many, but as the dust began to settle, a new paradigm emerged: hybrid approaches to working both in-office and at home.
Centering flexibility over demand for in-person five-day work weeks helps companies divorce themselves from the common conflation of face time with productivity.
We’re seeing how companies have shifted towards acknowledging a person’s positive impact in their roles within a flexible work environment versus the traditional 9-to-5. A departure from factory hours makes sense in fintech and similar startup environments where contributions aren’t necessarily physical.
While working remotely may not be for everyone, these updated operating models can increase opportunities for women who often balance multiple responsibilities in and outside the workplace.
3) Create spaces where people can be their whole selves
Women don’t necessarily leave their jobs (whether in fintech or startups alike) due to a lack of skills. While many reasons contribute to churn, a significant one can be the social environment.
Hiring is only a fraction of the work; ensuring you’re committed to creating open spaces where people feel a sense of belonging is important for building a productive employee experience.
Small tactics — like kicking off 1:1 meetings with personal check-ins or celebrating milestones that occur outside of the office — can go a long way in fostering a welcoming social environment where people, especially women, can bring their full selves to work.
Why this matters now
These tactics are essential to execute now. Over the past few years, as the world shut down, our connections didn’t.
The community was built over Zoom and Slack until it was safe to meet again.
Now that there’s an uptick in in-person events again, women are especially ready to come together — and there’s palpable energy and excitement to reconnect.
Second, there are new pools of educated, qualified women who are more open to seeking new opportunities than ever before.
Census studies show that with increased work flexibility, so too does the number of higher educated women entering and staying in the workforce. And they are evaluating companies that embrace flexibility and career growth more closely.
Third, the importance of belonging has risen when considering the employee experience. If you go so far as to connect with and attract women to join your company, it behooves you to commit to the work to help them feel as though they belong.
The companies that understand why all this matters and are savvy enough to get ahead will stand out to women and connect with people and talent in ways that others can’t.
Those companies will stand out in this new chapter in building ties to women and architecting spaces where they’ll thrive.
Ascend automates insurance payments end-to-end — from online customer payments and financing to the distribution of commissions and carrier payables — so that insurance distributors can eliminate laborious, expensive processes while giving their customers great online checkout and financing experience they've come to expect.