Podcast March 8, 2022

International Women’s Day: Women in Fintech #BreakTheBias

powered by Sounder

Gender bias is not new. It’s prevalent in every industry, including Fintech. Women grow up expecting unequal retreatment in the workplace.

That’s changing, now more than ever.

In today’s episode, Faye McDonough, Portfolio & Business Operations Director at Growth Lending, and Lindsay Davis, Head of Markets at Atomic, visit the show to share their experiences as women in Fintech, how they’ve navigated their careers, and how they see the dynamic shifting in the near future.

Join us as we discuss:

  • Bias & gender balances in the workplace
  • What women bring to the team
  • Establishing your values & never compromising

Gender balance and gender bias in the workplace

Gender balance

Faye’s team at Growth Lending is gender-balanced. It means that 50% of their company workforce is female.

Belonging to both the financial services and Fintech industries, Growth Lending has also shattered glass ceilings by employing three female Managing Directors within the group, and holding a majority-female senior leadership team.

Looking at people for the skills and life experience that they bring is what actually contributed to the diversity of Faye’s team. Achieving gender balance involves:

  • Being intentional and aligning the business decisions with this as the goal
  • Developing a clear culture around it
  • Drive consistency at every level of the business

“It’s all about an individual and what their own unique skill set is, and what they can bring to the organization.” — Faye McDonough

Gender bias

Faye witnessed the turning point of gender bias in banking. Entering a male-dominated workplace, she was promoted from an all-female candidate shortlist.

She credits gender-specific programs for her ability to flourish as a part of leadership teams. It’s similar to balancing a scale that is tipped in one direction. You have to exert a little more pressure on the other side.

Faye admits her rather selective approach toward company culture may have contributed to her neutral experience with gender bias. She notes that female representation is still an issue at three distinct levels of business:

  • Workforce
  • Leadership
  • Client representation

Faye’s open commitment, during the conversation, to increasing the number of female entrepreneurs in her team’s client portfolio is a refreshing addition to the laundry list of opportunities that we all have.

“A male entrepreneur that’s young might be considered young and promising, versus a female entrepreneur that’s considered young and inexperienced.” — Faye McDonough

What women bring to the team

Lindsay begins her segment by outlining what she believes women bring to the workplace:

  • Empathy for clients and customers
  • Feedback loop development (informing colleagues about their impact on the world, for example)
  • Storytelling skills that combine empathy and information

In an industry like Fintech, where two male-dominated environments come together, the incline of the uphill battle for women is set at a much steeper angle.

Lindsay encourages women to seek out and use frameworks that recognize when a higher standard is being used to measure their performance, particularly against male counterparts.

Although it isn’t fair, it’s also useful to recognize when your opinion is being positioned as just that: an opinion (instead of a data-driven interpretation).

One of the stand-out stories Lindsay includes in her account is that she worked for women who told her that she should struggle because they struggled.

This approach is still very real and it is being promoted by both men and women in the workplace. We’re overdue on our cue to look beyond the ‘token female hire’ at all levels of business.

“Society today has become a little bit more equalized. But there’s still gender pay gaps. There’s still gender imbalances on boards, especially with leadership teams.” — Lindsay Davis

Establish your values and never compromise

Values

Figuring out what you value is like having one foot through the door on your way to finding allies in addressing gender bias.

Those values should ideally be included in your ‘must haves’ section when you’re applying for jobs. They should inform your decisions when you consider where to interview and which offers to shortlist.

Compromise

In cementing your values, you solidify your own understanding that you have the power of choice:

  • You can choose where you work.
  • You can choose the people you work with, to varying extents.
  • You can choose the clients you serve, especially if you’re an entrepreneur.

Everything hinges on you setting your values as boundaries for yourself as a person and for your career and then consistently making decisions that respect those boundaries.

“It’s about vetting the people on the other side of the table, and then also letting it be known what’s important to you.” — Lindsay Davis

Lindsay’s parting advice

  • Be patient: it takes time and consistent smaller decisions to build up to greater impact in terms of gender diversity.
    • Open your mind: hindsight is 20/20 vision and it allows you the benefit of understanding the peripheral benefits of your actions. It’s not about one end goal. It’s about the journey.
  • Reframe failure: it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s what you do with the data from those mistakes that will define whether you learn and get better or if you move in the same circle or loop, over time.

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Until next time!  

 

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