Four in 10 private companies that have published their latest gender pay gap are reporting wider gaps than they did last year, according to BBC analysis. The data comes ahead of a 4 April deadline for the private sector to report pay figures for men and
women within their organisations and only about 10% of companies have so far supplied data. Research from E&Y and Deloitte shows the financial services industry, and Fintech in particular, are among some of the worst offenders in terms of hiring women and
paying them the same as their male counterparts. Much of the current data highlights a continuing problem that has only one solution: employing more women and ensuring more women are employed in senior positions.
While some progress has been made in this area, with a significant increase in female representation on FTSE 100 company boards, more remains to be done. Britain still trails the US and Australia for gender diversity at the top of organisations. This is
despite research from management consultants McKinsey suggesting as much as $12 trillion, or 11%, of global GDP could be added to the world economy by 2025, simply by having more women in senior management positions. So there is a simple, financial argument
for encouraging women into leadership roles in the workplace. In order to achieve this, there are some essential things that most companies could do to improve gender balance at the top.
Fintech has a far bigger gender problem that it cares to admit
Whether it wants to admit it or not Fintech remains a male dominated industry. The ‘Fintech Census’ carried out by EY and industry body Innovate Finance found seven out of 10 people employed in Fintech in the UK were male, despite 47% of the overall UK workforce
being female. Research from Deloitte shows that only 17% of senior roles in the industry are held by women. Meanwhile, Deloitte found women are 20% less likely than straight white men to win endorsement of their ideas. This is actually costing companies crucial
market opportunities. More broadly the Catalyst Women in Finance 2017 Report found a number of obstacles to women advancing into senior positions in the financial sphere despite accounting for 50% of the workforce. Among the key findings were that 30% of women
said they worked in company which did not support women to advance, 15% said their company lacked visible female leaders, while s further 11% said there was a lack of mentoring in the company their worked for.
Make gender balance a genuine priority
There remain very few female CEOs of top FTSE companies. There are more FTSE 100 CEOs called David than there are women and just seven female CEOs in the FTSE 100 (and nine in the FTSE 250). Overall, McKinsey estimates women comprise an average of just 12%
of UK executive teams. The situation is even worse in the Fintech sector where women hold less than 5% of top executive jobs in Europe’s top 50 Fintech firms, with only one female CEO.
Many FTSE companies have improved their gender balance by adding women as non-executive directors, however the proportion of female execs remains much lower. If we are ever going to achieve gender diversity at senior levels, companies must do more than pay
lip service to the idea.
Make sure female senior leaders are visible
The only way to have more women in senior positions is to actively seek to do so. One way to achieve this is to make female role models at all levels visible and directly involve them in the recruitment process. Companies that clearly demonstrate that women
are a valued part of their organisation will attract the best female talent, inspire female recruits and retain them for the longer term.
Provide women with mentors
Mentoring is an important tool for passing experience down through the generations, for both men and women. But women are too often neglected in this regard when they need help most not only with workplace related issues but also how to successfully balance
career and family. Many women still believe there must be a sacrifice; having one at the expense of the other. Mentoring provides a safe environment where young women can explore these challenges with someone who has managed it successfully. It allows them
to form a strong vision for what their life could look like making it easier to achieve.
Embed flexible working practices to keep female talent
Nearly all women face the reality of juggling work with family life. Although good advice and careful planning can help you prepare, once children arrive, life changes. Companies must acknowledge that, despite the logistical challenges posed by doing the
school runs, caring for sick kids and so on, women still have a lot to give to a career and want to continue to contribute and grow.
Flexible working arrangements, enabling staff to work from home or work part-time are all ways companies can support their female talent. Enabling women to ease themselves back into work towards the end of their maternity leave, perhaps working 2 afternoons
a week from home or coming in for a morning a week would also be helpful. Rather than assume a default position HR departments should be more creative with their solutions for working mothers and communicate properly with them to understand what arrangements
work best for both parties.
Girls love tech too
Women account for just 14.4 per cent of the workforce in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) occupations. This is a problem that needs to be addressed at an early stage. Too few girls are encouraged to study STEM subjects at school.
This year’s A-level data shows that less than 10% of computing students were girls. Those girls interested in such subjects still don’t have enough strong examples of female leaders in these fields to look up to and model themselves on.
For Fintech this presents a problem. There are still too few girls with a solid interest in pursuing a tech career. Given the way technology is developing, with the increasing trend towards automation and digital solutions, the future jobs market is likely
to be in dominated by STEM fields. As a society, we have a responsibility to do more to encourage both boys and girls into STEM subjects.
To address the gender gap that is still very real in the fintech sector, we need to make a conscious effort. Paying lip service through quotas and public statements is not enough. A good start has been made in the industry but there remains a long road ahead.