Technology services are often predicated on notions of disruption, accessibility, and cultural change – but the sector’s internal approaches tend not to mirror this subversive attitude.
While, for many, diversity has simply become something of a buzzword in recent years, its importance in workplaces around the world is becoming increasingly clear.
Primarily, businesses small and large are pursuing a distinct shift away from their male-dominated histories, and the tech sector is no exception.
In fact, as Natalie Marchant notes in her article ‘Where Are All the Women in FinTech’ for The FinTech Times, “the lack of diversity at C-suite level is arguably as archaic as the legacy systems the industry seeks to disrupt”.
In recognition of International Women’s Day, we’ve written this deep dive blog, aiming to draw the curtain on an industry facing increasing scrutiny for its lack of female representation. We’ll be analysing the latest statistics, brainstorming possible solutions, and celebrating the women of AccessPay with interview-style segments, aiming to make their stories known.
Let’s Look at the Numbers
The fact of the matter is this: women are vastly underrepresented when it comes to both the tech sector and FinTech more specifically.
According to Deloitte, women comprise a measly 7% of FinTech founders, and the industry’s overall workforce is 30% female-identifying; this drops to 17% when it comes to senior roles.
The wider technology landscape tells a similar tale. Only 19% of the broader tech workforce are women, with the statistics for black/Hispanic women and Asian women coming in at 3% and 5% respectively.
Put simply, as Louise Brett writes, “It starts to look like an industry founded for men, run by men, making products for men”.
Things are beginning to change, however.
Strengths-based leadership firm Zenger Folkman found that women had a leadership-effective score in technology of 52.1%, compared to 42.0% for men. Interestingly, among the various industries studied, the difference in leadership scores between men and women was the largest in the tech industry.
Furthermore, it’s proved businesses will achieve higher business results for companies with gender diversity. A McKinsey study found that companies were 21% more likely to have above-average profits if they were in the top quartile in terms of gender diversity among their executives.
Why Does Representation Matter? What’s the Importance of More Women in Tech?
None of the above statistics mean anything without addressing the greater question: why.
On one hand, this is an exceedingly simple question. Increased diversity is about addressing the opportunities present in our societies and cultures, making sure that everyone has a fair shot at achieving their ambitions.
To dig a little deeper, however, the importance of achieving greater gender equality and broader diversity in tech boils down to two things: benefitting young people and the careers ahead of them, and benefitting the industry itself.
To start with the former, it’s no secret that Generation Z are currently making waves in their entrance to the global workforce – and they’re more purpose-driven than their predecessors.
In a poll conducted by YouGov, 49% of ‘Zoomers’ claimed that they would accept a 20% lower salary in order to work for a purpose-driven brand; a further 39% deemed it ‘very important’ for a brand to be both aggressive and visible in addressing important social issues.
Tomorrow’s leaders, mentors, and colleagues have already arrived – and the generations beyond them are unlikely to buck the trend.
De-gendering career paths from a young age has the potential to diversify sectors across the global workforce, as well as boasting the ability to remove the stigma associated with jobs traditionally seen as either overtly manly or feminine.
For Vijay Aswaran, however, it’s not just about the future – it’s about now.
Writing for WeForum, he notes that “the moral argument is weighty enough, but the financial impact – as proven by multiple studies – makes this a no-brainer”.
Compiling research from a number of studies, we can learn the following:
- Companies with a female founder perform up to 63% better than those with a male founder
- Women are 34% better at working out compromises
- Women are 34% more likely to be honest and ethical
- Women are 30% more likely to provide fair pay and benefits
- Women are 25% better at mentoring and more likely to stick up for their beliefs
There are no two ways about it: increasing the presence of women in the workplace, no matter the industry or profession, boasts a number of benefits. The numbers back it up.
The Women of AccessPay
Like many other businesses, AccessPay are taking strides towards greater gender equality and diversity.
Of course, we haven’t yet achieved it – FinTech is still, culturally speaking, a male-centric industry.
However, we’ve long implemented a number of policies designed to foster a great culture, all while ensuring that prospective applicants feel comfortable joining our team regardless of gender.
For International Women’s Day, we interviewed several of AccessPay’s women, all of whom make the business a better, more knowledgeable place on a daily basis.
We’ve condensed the interviews into short bios, in the hope that their stories resonate and inspire.
Caroline Meredith – Sales Director
Caroline initially fell into a sales role at a cybersecurity firm – now she’s the Sales Director at the fastest growing FinTech outside of London.
For her, there simply isn’t time to get bored of tech. Throughout the 23 years she’s worked in the industry, Caroline has seen both the sector and technology itself evolve leaps and bounds. There are new roles and opportunities arising every minute, and she encourages women entering the workforce to do their research and get involved.
If she could offer one piece of advice for tomorrow’s women in tech, it’d be that emotional intelligence is paramount. To truly connect with those around you, lead a team, and watch a company grow from a team of 30 to 30,000 – something Caroline can boast – you don’t just need technical expertise, but empathy and people skills.
A role in technology is a role for life, if you scale your ambitions with the industry’s – and the team at AccessPay are lucky to have Caroline to help support that growth on both a personal and company level.
Thandi McNair – Product Owner
Thandi understands the importance of a good story.
From the gendered toys that children play with to the professional stigma of starting a family, there are certain narratives that run deep in our culture.
While fiction has perpetuated harmful myths about gender throughout the years, she also believes that it is stories that will further unlock gender balance in both the technology sector and the wider workforce.
In fact, Thandi has a compelling story of her own. After spending time in Data Analyst roles, she now works on AccessPay’s Product team, reveling in the knowledge that she’s designing a service that will help people’s everyday lives.
Helen Slater-Petty – Head of Data and Analytics
Like many who enter a career in tech, Helen knew one thing for sure: she liked numbers.
As a student, however, she felt in the minority.
Her A-level maths classes were dominated by men, leading her to believe that the same would be the case for all data-focused roles.
After getting her start in medical statistics – where there was seemingly a more harmonious gender balance – she moved into FinTech, finding herself somewhat in the minority.
She’s quick to note, however, that her experience at AccessPay has only been positive. She’s been able to fully embrace her role, climbing the ranks from Data Analyst all the way to Head of Data and Analytics.
More than anything, Helen wants young women with a passion for numbers to know that Data is a viable role, regardless of gender.
Lauren Bostock – Software Engineer
Lauren was passionate about technology long before she realised it.
Despite enjoying IT and Computing at school, she wasn’t made aware of the tech industry until her time at college, when she truly felt her career ambitions start to take shape.
Like many other women, though, Lauren’s professionalism has been questioned by others. When interacting with men on projects, it’s been presumed that she’s on the receiving end of help, rather than them being equals.
For her, the upside is that there’s a growing community of vocal women in tech who are passionate about their sector and aren’t afraid to let the world know.
Marie Cornes – Head of Finance
Marie didn’t choose tech – but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t fallen in love with it.
After pursuing a career in finance, she landed a role at AccessPay as Financial Controller. She’s since become one of the company’s longest-standing employees, receiving a well-earned promotion to Head of Finance back in September 2021.
Marie knows well the intimidation that can accompany entering an all-male boardroom, but she’s keen to emphasise two key factors that women entering the industry should seek out: mentorship schemes, such as Manchester Young Professionals, and supportive male allies.
Having a female mentor – or even just seeing other women in positions of seniority – can make a massive impact on those starting their careers. Thankfully, too, Marie found support in AccessPay’s men, such as CEO Anish Kapoor and CFO Sean Moriarty.
Freya Dale – SDR Manager
When it comes to the technology sector, you can never know everything. It’s what Freya loves about her job.
She studied Business at university, a degree that was very much male-dominated. Now? She heads up the SDR team at AccessPay, taking responsibility for the company’s outbound sales efforts.
The problem, however, is that success stories like Freya’s aren’t well-publicised enough. As her team look forward, they want to expand in size – but few applicants are women.
There needs to be a clearer understanding of the journeys into both tech and sales for young women, she notes, echoing the sentiments of her colleagues. Often, all it takes is for one role model to make a huge difference.
Bethan Way – Governance Manager
Bethan comes from a career in Governance and Compliance in the UK Military.
Needless to say, she’d become accustomed to male seniority. When she was headhunted for a role at AccessPay, however, she dived headfirst into her first tech role and hasn’t looked back.
Given that it’s her first role in tech, Bethan has benefitted greatly from training courses suggested by her manager which have supported her development.
She handles processes, writes policies, is responsible for internal and external audits, and much more.
Wrapping Things Up…
If there’s a key takeaway to be found here, it’s this: stories matter.
Examples of successful women in leadership matter. Fiction that depicts women in positions of seniority and historically male roles matter. Companies continuing to strive for business-wide equity matters.
Culturally, there are several steps that can be taken to ensure greater diversity in the technology sector.
Polls and studies both suggest that language plays a huge part in fostering a sense of gendered inclusivity.
Women in Tech note that 88% of respondents in their survey would be drawn to a company that speaks openly about diversity: “it’s really important to women entering the tech industry that any potential organisation they work with are demonstrating they genuinely care about making a difference and improving gender diversity and diversity in tech in general”.
Not only this, but the correct benefits make a huge difference. Today’s job-seekers are no longer enamoured by lukewarm promises of annual leave and office cultures that are all-too-often masculine in nature; flexible working, childcare policies, and a demonstrable commitment to social change are king (or queen).
Here at AccessPay, we’re continuing our journey of inclusivity and diversity – and we can’t wait to see where it leads us next.
If you’d like to join our growing team, take a look at our current job openings here.