At Fractal, we believe that cultivating a diverse workplace is very important. An equal world is an enabled world.
Diversity can cover race, a person’s capabilities, and gender which is the focal point of today as we celebrate International Women’s Day.
International Women’s Day is celebrated on the 8th March, and a new theme is bestowed yearly to mark a new chapter. 2020’s theme - #eachforequal.
The day focuses on three points:
- Celebrating women's achievements, in the way Innovate Finance does every year with its Women in Fintech Powerlist.
- By raising awareness against bias, as many women and men do throughout the year.
- Encouraging us all to take action for equality. The World Economic Forum suggests that quotas in higher education in STEM disciplines do work and that men need to be a part of the conversation too.
For centuries, women have not had it easy because of societal pressures and social norms stemming from old practices and values.
The good news is that as awareness increases, discussions around women's rights, once a frowned upon subject, are happening more frequently. Stemming from this, actions can take place to ensure that we work towards living in an equal world.
McKinsey reports that $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 if we work to advance women’s equality, yet the World Economic Forum states that it will take 257 years before gender parity can be achieved. Furthermore, in the fintech industry, female-led fintech businesses received only 10% of all investment and 11% of deals in 2019, despite the number of successful women leaders in the sector.
At Fractal, our founders and board members are 50% female and 50%, male. We have seven women, of whom five are in the engineering team across a company of 22 people. We believe that the company’s success is reliant on having a diverse team.
This year, I decided to ask the women at Fractal what their honest opinions were on the current landscape for women in the fintech industry, what personal experiences they have had, and what needs to be done to push progress further.
Shamiso Bowora: Fractal Customer Success Manager
Having worked in the tech space for over four years, my main observation is the need to invest in girls during their primary and secondary school years. For example, coding classes, mentorships, and work placements.
By introducing more women to the world of fintech, and more broadly, tech, we get rid of the unconscious feeling within women that they are being sidelined. We give them an opportunity to see that there is a seat at the table for them should they wish to work in the industry.
It’s imperative that we cultivate the essential skills needed to thrive in the fintech industry and invest in women. This will positively impact every aspect of the business as women will be able to speak up with confidence at meetings, standups and in the boardroom.
Although the stats can be daunting, I have seen improvement in organisations committing to closing the gender gap by encouraging diverse leadership, holding events and creating environments where women can flourish.
It’s definitely a step in the right direction, but there is still a lot of work to be done.
Anjana Sridhar: Fractal Senior Software Engineer
From my standpoint, as a woman, the struggle is definitely real in the fintech industry.
Without realising, you see so many callouts for women to talk and be a part of the discussion, yet you never see these callouts for men. That’s simply because women have been under-represented for so long. The plus side is that awareness of this under-representation seems to be working, but only to an extent.
The lack of women leaders within the industry, and in well-known companies, can give the wrong impression that men are better leaders. Unfortunately, I have even heard women that I know believe that this is the case because it’s all they have ever seen, and know no different.
As harsh as it might sound, there are times that I feel a lack of support from both women and men in the industry because of these age-old beliefs, and even when I am included, it can feel as if I am a token piece just for stats and image. In the past, I have been called emotional for bringing up my past experiences or defending my work-related decisions. I found that I had to prove my point 10x more than a man in the same position as me. I ended up feeling weak and guilty for not being stronger, and I found myself hiding my emotions so I didn’t look fragile in front of a predominantly male team.
At Fractal, I feel safe. We are encouraged to respect each other, listen to each other, and let people talk no matter who we are in the organisation. We have very healthy discussions, which has helped me to learn a lot more professionally and personally. I have also learnt to trust my gut feeling, to believe in my decisions, and to fight my cause without giving up. I accredit this to the support and backing I get from my colleagues and from Nick (Fractal CEO and Founder). My colleagues have helped me develop my outlook on life for the better, and I am truly happy that Fractal empowers women.
Liji Jose: Fractal Senior QA
I love seeing talented women go out into the world and succeed despite all obstacles.
I personally feel it’s a challenge to feel confident due to the actions of some men, but that doesn’t mean it’s all men across the board. I believe many of them are helping to fight the cause just as much as we are.
At Fractal, I am grateful that I can work flexibly as I have a family. They trust that I can do my work to a high standard without the need to be in the office from 9-6 every day. I believe that these types of initiatives are important in helping women in the workplace. When I started, I was definitely impressed by the overall percentage of women employees and it factored into my decision to work here.
I believe that speaking to women who have gone through different journeys helps me understand how to deal with certain aspects of work and life. No matter the person’s age, or experience, talking to other women and men openly is key to understanding each other better and moving forward together in a positive way.
Our next two posts to celebrate International Women’s Day will focus on Kristy Duncan, CEO and Founder at Women in Payments, and showcase some more thoughts on diversity from the team at Fractal.
You can find out more about Fractal and how we’re empowering financial institutions to support their SME customers over at our website. In the meantime, don’t forget to sign up to our Developer Portal.