#DemandBetter Campaign: Can the fintech sector finally disrupt workplace gender disparity?


In celebration of International Women’s Day, I thought I’d share a few interesting facts with you all about the current state of play when it comes to gender inequity in the workplace.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the national gender pay gap sits at 18.8%, a 1.4% increase since November 2013.  That’s right – it’s increased, not decreased.  To put this into perspective, equal pay has been law in Australia for 40 years.  If the Australian workplace was your company, would you be OK with them taking 40 years to get your pay in line with your colleagues?  I think not.

Ok, so I’d hazard a guess to say it doesn’t really come as a great surprise to anyone reading this blog, male or female, that such statistics continue to plague the Australian workplace.  Especially in male dominated sectors of the economy such as construction and mining, where addressing the balance at the bottom has been harder than most.  But in the tech sector, surely things are different?  Surely the very disruptors of the status-quo, the challengers of the incumbents,  building revolutionary new industries from the ground up, can get simple things like gender balance right from day 1?

Well don’t get too excited.  Take this recent study of the top 50 fintech companies in Europe, which showed up a few startling gender statistics of its own:

  • Only 1 of the 50 companies profiled had a female CEO.
  • A paltry 11 of the 222 key executives across the 50 companies profiled were women.

For a sector that prides (and markets) itself as a bastion of disruption, these sorts of things need to be corrected quickly.  Otherwise fintech faces the same messy, image damaging trajectory as the tech sector.  Currently beleaguered with complaints of sexism and workplace gender inequality, women are reportedly leaving in droves.

In my opinion, fintech businesses and other startups have an unique opportunity to position themselves as employers of choice for women.  There is an incredible depth of female talent in the finance and tech industry and more than likely a level of discontentment in relation to how their careers have been nurtured to date by the incumbents.  For fintechs starting out today, they should strive to implement a gender balanced board followed by a gender balanced senior executive team.  The rest will flow from there.  True disruption of the sector extends to smashing that glass ceiling that unfortunately statistics tell us still exists.

As a final note, you may be interested to know the Abbott Governement recently scaled back the reporting requirements of Australian companies to the Workplace Gender Equity Agency.  Companies will now no longer have to report on:

  • CEO salaries
  • Pay of casual managers
  • The components of total remunerations
  • The numbers of job applications and interviews
  • The requests and approvals for extended parental leave

ANZ chief Mike Smith has openly questioned this move, arguing that unless targets are public and accountable, many companies will not perceive them as necessary to work towards.  Less initiatives in the background working to increase gender diversity at the top levels means progress will remain at snail’s pace, as it has been to date.

As a female, these sorts of comments from the top of an organisation like ANZ are incredibly encouraging.  It’s no secret that Gen Y and Millenials will be looking more and more closely at these sorts of statements and the internal commitments that their own companies’ management teams make, as they navigate their way through their careers.  As Lieutenant General David Morrison said in his speech on gender equality in the armed forces, ‘The standard you walk past, is the standard you accept’.   So the fintech sector can either get on the front foot, or find itself in the same old camp as it’s finance and technology grandfathers.  Women are certainly starting to #demandbetter.

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