Why Representation of Women in Finance and Fintech Matters
International Women’s Day is an important opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness of gender issues, and promote gender equality and diversity.
While the financial industry has made great strides towards gender equality and diversity in recent years, there are areas where we need to do better. One area where this is particularly evident is in the representation of women in finance and fintech. Despite the growing number of women entering the field, they are still underrepresented, especially in leadership positions. In 2021, women made up 47% of the workforce in the Canadian financial services industry; however, only 21% held board seats, 19% held C-suite roles, and 5% held CEO positions.
There are numerous reasons why it’s important to empower and elevate women’s voices in finance and fintech. First, women bring unique perspectives and skills to the table. There is a growing body of research that supports the claim that women tend to be more collaborative, empathetic, and risk-aware, which can lead to better decision-making and more successful outcomes. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Cambridge found that women are better than men at recognizing emotions in others and responding to them appropriately. This empathy can lead to better communication, increased trust, and more successful outcomes in interpersonal and group settings.
Furthermore, increasing diversity in finance and fintech can help to address the industry’s longstanding problems with systemic bias and discrimination. By providing opportunities for women and other underrepresented groups, we can build a more inclusive and equitable financial system.
So, how can we spread awareness and uplift female voices in finance and fintech?
One of the most effective ways to support women in finance and fintech is through mentorship and sponsorship opportunities. Pairing women with senior leaders in the industry who can offer guidance and support can be incredibly valuable, as can advocating for their advancement within their organizations. By providing access to these types of relationships, women can gain valuable insights, build their networks, and develop the skills and confidence needed to succeed.
Building strong networks and communities can also be a powerful tool for women in finance and fintech. By connecting with others in the field, women can find mentors and sponsors, access new opportunities, and build their reputations. This can be achieved by joining industry associations, attending conferences and events, and participating in online forums and groups, like the CLA’s Roundtables
Education and training programs that focus on the unique challenges faced by women in finance and fintech can also be incredibly valuable. Seminars, workshops, and online courses that cover topics such as negotiation, risk assessment, and financial analysis can help women to build their skills and confidence, as well as to better understand the challenges they face.
Finally, it is important to advocate for the visibility and recognition of women in finance and fintech. This can be achieved by highlighting their achievements through awards programs, media coverage, and speaking opportunities. By ensuring that women get a seat at the table, we can help to break down barriers and inspire future generations of female leaders.
With so many successful, empowered, and innovative women in Canadian finance, it is worthwhile to outline a few examples:
- Maureen Jensen: In addition to her role at the Ontario Securities Commission, Jensen has also held leadership positions at the Bank of Canada, including Senior Deputy Governor and Chief Operating Officer.
- Gillian Riley: As President and CEO of Tangerine Bank, Riley has been recognized as one of Canada’s most powerful women by the Women’s Executive Network and has been instrumental in driving the bank’s growth and innovation.
- Mary Ann Yule: As President and CEO of HP Canada, Yule oversees the company’s Canadian operations, which include financial services and solutions.
- Angela Armstrong: As the founder and CEO of Prime Capital, a Canadian investment firm that specializes in private equity and venture capital, Armstrong is a trailblazer in finance. With over 25 years of experience in the financial industry, she has held senior positions at several major banks and investment firms in Canada.
- Linda Mantia: As the CEO of FICO Canada, a subsidiary of the global analytics software firm FICO, Mantia is a well-respected leader in the Canadian financial services sector. She has held senior positions at several major banks and financial institutions in Canada, including Manulife Financial, Tangerine Bank, and Royal Bank of Canada (RBC).
In conclusion, uplifting female voices in finance and fintech is not just a matter of equality and fairness – it is also a matter of improving outcomes for the industry as a whole. By providing opportunities for women to succeed, we can build a diverse, more robust, and more successful financial system.