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Fintech leaders launch Parity Pledge to increase sector diversity

Today’s launch also marks International Women’s Day, as fintech fights for its female founders.

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Today’s launch also marks International Women’s Day, as fintech fights for its female founders.

Announced today, fintech leaders from across the sector are committing to the Parity Pledge: a pledge which asks firms to do more to ensure gender and ethnic diversity on and off the stage. Signatories are committed to working with event organisers to tackle the balance in a sustainable way, making sure that diversity is cultivated at all levels.

Too often a lack of diversity is evident at industry events and conferences, with speaker panels and line-ups often being predominantly male. It is a problem that we at AltFi have witnessed first-hand, and one we are committed to addressing.

However, the problem also begins at home, within fintech firms themselves. Research carried out by SyndicateRoom last year showed that only 7 per cent of the UK’s top 100 start-ups include women in their founding team. In addition, a fintech census carried out by EY and Innovate Finance found that women represent just 29 per cent of staff in the sector.

The issue worsens when it comes to ethnic diversity. In a recent blogpost by the Centre for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI), of CEOs at venture-backed tech start-ups, only 3 per cent are female, and fewer than 1 per cent are Black or Hispanic. There are as yet no statistics on the inclusion of non-binary genders in the sector.

Several firms have already signed up to the Parity Pledge, including challenger bank OakNorth,Innovate Finance and FinTech Stage.

Ghela Boskovich, founder of FemTech Global, commented: “We see the same or similar people on stage over and over again. That’s not good enough. If we want the finest talent - regardless of their background - to join our mission, it helps if they see people like them on stage.

“If we want to change the face of finance, we need a good cross-section of humanity to get involved in making products and influencing and shaking things up. And if we want to learn something new, we need to hear stories and experiences from a wide range of people. The Parity Pledge asks individuals who are asked to speak to use their leverage to encourage greater representation of women and other under-represented groups on stage.”

A website is being created that will include tips and ideas for speakers on how to handle invitations to speak on male-only panels, and resources for event organisers to find a more diverse speaker base. In time, the site will also include a directory of speakers from all backgrounds and fintech specialisms.

UK-based SME lender Spotcap, which operates in six markets globally, has also put together a website and podcast to mark International Women’s Day, including views from all sides of the gender spectrum.

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