Rosie McConnell, Head of Product at IFX Payments
The Fintech industry is often admired for its unmatched level of growth. Fintechs are behind the rapid product development that has transformed the finance industry and the way consumers manage and understand their money.
However, for an industry that is so progressive and forward thinking, there’s still a large imbalance in gender diversity from entry level and junior roles all the way through to senior management and C-suite.
It’s a topic covered frequently both by the media, and also internally by businesses wanting to address this themselves. Yet every year, we continue to see significantly disproportionate numbers in gender diversity. So why aren’t we seeing a change?
At IFX, we pride ourselves on having a strong 40:60 female:male split – substantially higher than the industry standard.
I’m approaching my tenth year in the industry, and I find myself in a unique position, now that I’ve sat on both sides of the hiring table. As I reflect on what I’ve observed, I can offer some key learnings from my own personal experience to offer businesses some food for thought on their mission to be more inclusive.
Hiring power goes hand in hand with the opportunity to drive change. Within my three years here, FX has gone through incredible growth and I’m proud to now be in a position of having hiring power and being able to utilise it as a tool to challenge gender disparity across the sector.
When I went through the process of looking to hire myself, I observed that when I offered two roles, one junior and one senior, there was a clear gender split in terms of applications that didn’t necessarily reflect the candidate’s experience and skill sets.
Frequently I found that women were applying to junior roles even when their experience was more suited to the senior, and vice versa with male candidates. Being in a position of hiring power, I felt it was important to give the applicant this feedback and encourage greater confidence and constructive criticism in their abilities.
This observation made me actively relook at our external messaging about roles at IFX and consider the ways in which we are describing our company, the roles and responsibilities, and the commitment we are asking people to make. Here I outline my top three observations:
The first step in guaranteeing that you’re appealing to the candidates with the most suitable skill set is to ensure, as the person hiring, you have clear definitions of the difference between a senior and junior and what the exact experience and expectations are of someone at this level.
Mapping core competencies, skills and experience to seniority, and identifying the best way to surface this in your interview with the candidates will help you know when a candidate is being bullish or under-selling themselves.
Once these clear benchmarks are set, it is then key that the job application is appealing and attractive to everyone at that level. As an employer, consider how company policy is reflected in the language of the job posting and how this will be digested by the person reading it.
I noticed that job posts can be filled with language and phrasing that is more likely to appeal to men, and by making simple switches to more gender neutral and inclusive language, I could make our roles more attractive to a broader range of candidates. I urge those with hiring power to review their current job ads and analyse the perception the language used is giving out to potential hires.
Ultimately a role and company culture should appeal to candidates of any gender, as well as anyone of any race or social and economic backgrounds.
Topics affecting the candidates welfare are those which are most likely to be asked in an interview so addressing them in the job posting will likely attract quality talent. Think about the work from home protocol, mentoring and parental leave allowances.
Industries which have been historically dominated by men, often lack the management teams who possess skills suited to the growing female workforce. But with workplaces becoming more diverse, managers need to learn to deal with different communication styles and ways of working to make it more appealing to females across the board. Ultimately, for those in managerial positions, the goal is to pull the best out of your team in order to create better products. The more we work with our team, the better the results will be. So what’s the answer? As women in the industry, we need to introduce more empathy to management in order to nurture female talent and drive greater change.
I think it’s a complicated problem, and we’re starting to understand that businesses taking a one-size-fits-all approach to diversifying their workforce isn’t always effective. I would argue we must analyse and really understand each individual process, culture and positioning to be able to make meaningful change, that is not curtailed or dependent on external factors.
Innovation and delivering the best work for clients can only happen if the teams are actually varied in thought and I put some of our best ideas at IFX down to the diverse teams we hire.