After our recent Women in Banking Event: What’s your bank balance? guest speaker author Dr. Leda Glyptis’ PhD thought-provoking talk revealed only 15% of people in senior roles in banking are held by women, and that there are zero (yes, zero) women at senior level positions in Silicon Valley’s 150 tech firms. Unlike these firms, Currencycloud does have women at senior positions – so we asked Lauren Passey, VP NB Sales, EMEA and North America at Currencycloud what advice she’d give to women starting out. We also asked our Head of Engagement Andrew Milne, about what Currencycloud is doing to advance gender equality for current and future employees.
As Dr. Leda Glyptis said, it’s hard to put a positive spin on the situation currently facing women in banking, but here we look at ways to address that imbalance in numbers and power – and the positive steps that can be made in the industry, and that are being made at Currencycloud.
Diversity and Inclusion shouldn’t be a smoke screen
Dr Leda Glyptis noted that women make up 46.5% of Europe’s financial services sector, and 48% of the US’ financial services sector. We are, she says, ‘doing ok in terms of being there.’ Yet these same studies show only 15% of senior management and executive positions are occupied by women. Finance is still a male-dominated industry – and nowhere is this clearer than in the boardrooms of the 150 top Fintech companies which have zero women represented. Despite active and ongoing Diversity and Inclusion initiatives in most financial companies, the figures don’t lie. Women are not represented at senior level. Dr. Glyptis urges employees to focus on what (or who) is holding women back, and if necessary, point fingers. Diversity and Inclusion has a lot of soft edges, but it needs to be sharper to be more effective. Says Dr. Glyptis, ‘We need to start having those uncomfortable conversations.’
The world is nearly 50% female, so why isn’t finance?
Women are 49.2% of the planet yet just 14% of the tech industry. Demographics are changing right now, with more girls being born than boys. Considering these statistics Dr. Glyptis states, ‘Women are 50% of the population, so it’s clear we are being robbed of our rightful senior places in Fintech. Something is happening that makes us leave or keeps us down. Why is only 14% of the Fintech workforce made up of women? I can accept that we have a long way to go, but I cannot accept that 14% is ok.’
‘Getting women to positions of power is key.’ Dr. Leda Glyptis PhD
Inclusion: it just makes sense
The business case for inclusion is compelling. Every business that has a diverse management team performs better year-on-year. Part of the reason why diverse businesses do better is because they hire from a pool that is wide and diverse, not just twenty percent of the hiring pool. These businesses are actively moving away from the way they have always done things – and are prepared to break free of old habits. The case for diversity is not just one of fairness, it’s also common-sense mathematics. Truly diverse companies are hiring from twice the pool of the population, one that includes women not just men.
We also chatted with Lauren Passey, Currencycloud VP of New Business Sales, EMEA and North America about her personal experiences of gender equality at Currencycloud and the wider banking industry. She notes that while she’s been treated equally throughout her career by her male colleagues, the challenges have come from her outward-facing roles within the industry. Lauren explains, “Men have assumed I’m the receptionist and asked me to make tea for them, or worse directed their questions to male colleagues instead of me. Of course, women, too in this situation can make the same assumptions - both men and women are equally accountable for driving gender equality.
For women starting in their careers in banking and Fintech, Lauren Passey urges them to remember they’re in full control of their own career: “Be clear and vocal about what you want, and the steps you need to take to get there. Take risks, be curious, and know that failure is ok – it’s these experiences that you learn the most from.” Lauren notes that actively seeking feedback is vital. “Always tap into areas for personal development. Seek mentors from both genders and look for employers who take organizational health seriously.”
“If you have to fight to be treated equally, chances are you aren’t in a healthy environment.” Lauren Passey, VP of New Business Sales, EMEA and North America at Currencycloud
Passey notes that it’s just as important for companies to prioritize gender equality as it is to prioritize diversity and inclusion. “The gains in broader perspectives, increased innovations, better decision making and problem solving, more commitment from teams just make good business sense.”
To explore what Currencycloud as an organization is doing to prioritize gender equality we talked with Andrew Milne, Engagement Partner at Currencycloud. “We’ve set up our own Women’s Network, GD@CC, with the focus on being a space for gender inclusion rather than gender ‘diversity’,” explains Andrew. “One of the core beliefs of Currencycloud’s inclusion strategy is you can’t create inclusion with exclusion. As such, our networks are created with allyship and accessibility in mind, so those who aren’t members of the community can still engage with it to grow through cultural exposure and inclusion.”
Panel discussions work very well. These curated spaces allow Women Leaders to share their career advice, stories and experiences with the wider company, alongside panel members which include future leaders and ‘ones to watch’. Says Andrew Milne, “These discussions give those starting on the careers a chance to get to know our leaders and hopefully be inspired to keep growing professionally – empowering them to be future industry leaders.”
These Currencycloud events and networks are ongoing and active, providing the Engagement Team with feedback on what they can do to create a truly inclusive work environment.
Thank you, Dr. Leda Glyptis PhD, Lauren Passey and Andrew Milne, for reminding us that we are all part of the solution, and it starts by asking hard questions.