Taking a step back from innovation for the day, this year’s Money 20/20 Las Vegas event concluded with banking executives and fintech players sharing their personal experiences of the financial services industry.
Despite the appetite for change in the banking sector, Deepa Mahajan from McKinsey & Company presented research that shed light on the lack of progress being made for minorities and said that it will take more than 100 years for gender equality at C-suite level in corporate America.
The data revealed that women remain significantly underrepresented and only account for 19% of executive positions in finance, which is slightly lower than the 22% average for women in the US overall.
Alongside this, women of colour are particularly disadvantaged and are 34% less likely to attain their first promotion than men, making the path to leadership steeper. Mahajan encouraged attendees to act as sponsors for women so that they do not miss out on opportunities because of their gender.
McKinsey’s Marie-Claude Nadeau noted that an unconscious bias is prevalent in the perception of the gender problem. Ahead of the report, employees at companies with just one in 10 women at C-suite level were surveyed where 50% of men felt that women were well represented.
In addition to this, an interesting finding was that 33% of women felt as if they were well represented in the company.
Speaking with Tracey Davies, the President of Money 20/20, Nadeau pointed out that “the organizations that are leading the charge and are within the top quartile for gender diversity are 21% more likely to experience above-average profitability than those in the bottom quartile.
“What we know is that inclusive businesses are more successful and we can’t leave talent on the table. At the moment, we’re leaving a lot talent on the table, as female and diversity levels aren’t where they should be.”
Davies added that as a premier financial technology event, Money 20/20 wanted to advocate gender inclusion by deliberately focusing on the number of female speakers at earlier shows, but this year the Rise Up accelerator program allowed ambitious female talent to be supported.
“I’m really proud of and inspired by all of the support for Rise Up - we are taking Rise Up global, expanding to all of our shows in Europe, Asia and mainland China. And the programme won’t run just at the shows - we are building a powerful network that women will join throughout the year,” Davies said.
In a later session, conversation turned to the inclusion of customers when multi-platinum selling artist and producer Akon took to the Revolution stage to share how growing up surrounded by underpriviledged people had encouraged him to help the unbanked in Africa.
62% of sub-Saharan Africa do not have a bank account and Akon’s cryptocurrency company Akoin is attempting to remedy this issue by providing the younger generation with a digital wallet that can help with starting a business, for example.
Suggesting that there is an unconscious bias against Africa “because of what you see on TV”, Akon added that the continent is in fact ahead of the curve despite many remaining unbanked but most do have mobile phones, which is why Akoin is attempting to provide a stable currency alternative.