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The Promise of Fintech Depends on Gender Diversity & Inclusion

In 2015 the United Nations member states (193 countries) adopted 17 sustainable development goals (SDG’s) that, if adopted, and achieved by 2030, would make the world a better place. The fifth goal – achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls – is, as a woman, of great interest to me. Especially when, as a woman in Fintech, I have for years experienced my own instances of gender inequality both personally and with the business decisions being made. Six years ago, when the SDG’s were adopted, I was working with product teams who were developing Fintech products in a vacuum. I often argued that an all-white male product team couldn’t possibly develop solutions for “Main Street America” if “Main Street America” wasn’t represented in the room. I advocated for implementing a formal Product Lifecycle Management process, and one of the very first steps in implementing this process should be recruiting more women and people of color to join our product teams.

I saw firsthand how products developed by a more diverse team (including women and persons of color) brought in more revenue and profits for the company. Of course, this makes sense, because companies with more diverse teams are more innovative, resilient, and capable of re-imagining. And they create better products because they represent the voice of the customer. I also saw firsthand a few products developed in a white wash that failed miserably. And of course, this makes sense as well, because those companies failed to see the value in bringing the diverse ideas and experiences from women and people of color into the development process. According to Forbes, inclusive teams make better business decisions up to 87% of the time, and decisions made and executed by diverse teams delivered 60% better results1.

This fundamental idea – that more diverse teams make better products and therefore a better world – became my mission. I went on to develop and manage a women’s accelerator program for the Financial Services and Fintech industry. I created a company that coaches Fintech start-ups, and especially those with Female Founders, on why diversity, equity and inclusion are a business imperative and must be worked into their business plan from ground zero. I’ve had the pleasure of mentoring some phenomenal Fintech Female Founders and see personally the amazing contribution they’re making to the world.

Shining a light on Fintech Female Founders couldn’t come at a better time. According to the World Economic Forum, gender parity has fundamental bearing on whether or not economies and societies thrive. Yet, according to their projections, we won’t achieve gender parity on a global scale until the year 22772. Certainly not in our lifetime! Add to this the fact that COVID-19 has brought any progress in gender equality to a screeching halt, and in fact, has undone years of progress. According to McKinsey & Company, if we simply ignore this problem, and do nothing, global GDP growth could be as much as $1 trillion lower in the year 2030. But, if we act now and continue to improve gender parity it could, instead, add $13 trillion to global GDP3. A $14 trillion swing in the right direction. Trillion, with a “T”.

So, what does Fintech have to do with it? Those of us that work in this industry know it’s uniquely positioned to help fuel the post-COVID economy by offering financial products and solutions that make access to financial services and therefore, wealth, possible for everyone. But to deliver on that promise, Fintech must drastically improve on gender equality. It’s a notoriously tough landscape for women, but I’m encouraged because change is coming!

Change is coming in the form of the Fintech Diversity Radar, and for the first time, ever, we’ll be able to access real-time, relevant, and validated data that will shine a light on gender diversity in Fintech. It’s a scorecard – and a learning tool – that will enable startups, scaling companies, and incumbents around the world to benchmark progress while getting measurable best practices for improvement. The Radar will map Fintechs around the world, identifying those organizations, in which countries and regions, are out-performing gender equality, while building a roadmap for female entrepreneurs to advance. Circling back to those female founders I’ve mentored… the future is bright, and I couldn’t be happier for them. As we launch the Fintech Diversity Radar, we’ll also be featuring some of these amazing women in our Female Founders series.  Because, when they win, we all win!

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1 New Research: Diversity + Inclusion = Better Decision Making at Work – Forbes, September 21, 2017

2 Mind the 100 Year Gap – World Economic Forum, 16 December 2019

3 COVID-19 and gender equality: Countering the regressive effects – McKinsey & Company, July 15, 2020