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Making progress: Championing diversity in the fintech sector

Marieke Saeij, CEO at Visma | Onguard, reflects on the state of play for diversity in the fintech sector, reviewing the work that is still to be done

Marieke Saeij, CEO, Visma | Onguard
|Mar 6|magazine5 min read

The last twelve months have been challenging for us all. During busy and uncertain times, it can feel difficult to carve out the space for reflection on wider issues, but it is important to do so.

In the fintech industry, equal representation of genders is a while off, with female representation outside of traditional job titles remaining low. For example, only 17% of fintech companies have female founders and women account for less than 30% of the sector’s overall workforce.

Challenging the status quo

Clearly there is work to be done. But as much as we must push to address the gender imbalance, I strongly believe that we cannot do this without considering the wider issues of diversity, both in our industry and beyond in the wider business world. 

When we examine the reasons for a lack of diversity, one that we as business leaders can help to address is that our future leaders often don’t recognise themselves in today’s leaders. Without role models or mentors across a diverse range of backgrounds to look up to, younger generations who feel they do not ‘fit’ are left hesitant to pursue a certain career as they feel that it isn’t for them. 

This lack of diversity at the point of hiring can stem from an inability for those in decision-making roles to look beyond their own upbringing and background. We have seen time and time again leaders, consciously or unconsciously, choosing to work with those that have had the same experiences as them. But by doing so, business leaders are missing a huge opportunity. Embracing a diverse workforce means embracing a diversity of thinking, which can deliver more creative solutions and a better working culture for all. 

Taking small but significant actions

So, what can we as individuals do? Whilst certain company-wide changes, such as changes to hiring practices, must be led from the top, we all have a role to play in creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone. This includes listening to those who may have had different experiences to us and using those learnings to influence decisions in both our personal and professional lives. Importantly, it also includes recognising that we’re all unconsciously biased. It’s crucial that we make space for difficult conversations to be had, so that positive change can happen. 

While the glass ceiling is still very much present in the fintech sector, by all taking small steps together, we have the best chance of breaking through it once and for all.  

This article was contributed by Marieke Saeij, CEO, Visma | Onguard 

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