Fostering Inclusion in Finance: Insights from Leading Female Finance Executives

As the finance sector evolves, so too does the conversation surrounding diversity, inclusivity, and gender equality. In honor of International Women’s Day 2024, we spoke with prominent female finance executives to gain their perspectives on inspiring inclusion within the industry.

Picture431124 - Global Banking | Finance

Aja Heise, Senior Compliance Officer at XBTO

Aja Heise, Senior Compliance Officer at XBTO “While we still have a long way to go, more organisations are actively working to create inclusive workplaces and increase the representation of women in fintech, and there are certainly more women pursuing a career in fintech than when I started out. However, this year’s International Women’s Day theme of ‘Inspire Inclusion’ draws attention to the fact there are still challenges when it comes to achieving full inclusivity, especially at higher levels of leadership and in larger organisations. For example, just 6% of leading crypto and blockchain companies have a female chief executive. While gender diversity is crucial, it’s just one aspect of building a truly inclusive workplace. It’s essential to consider diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, age as well as other factors to ensure women from all backgrounds are represented. To ensure women feel equipped and empowered to pursue their goals, the industry must continue to champion and prioritise programs, such as WMNfintech and Techstars, that provide women with the funding and resources to launch and grow their own startups. Professional organisations like the National Women in Banking Association and Financial Alliance for Women that offer networking opportunities and support for women navigating such a male-dominated and fast-paced industry are also crucial to create more inclusivity.”

Picture331124 - Global Banking | FinancePicture331124 - Global Banking | Finance

Meri Williams CTO, Pleo

Meri Williams CTO, Pleo, “Inclusivity has a lot to do with visibility. As the saying goes, “if you can’t see it, you can’t be it”. I used to think role-modelling wasn’t that important, but then I led university recruitment for a while at P&G, and saw that we got double the applications from women whenever a woman presented on campus. That changed my opinion rapidly! I was lucky in my formative years to have a number of great role models who were inclusive, from multiple genders, who I grew to want to emulate. I fear this is becoming rare, but is an area that businesses can focus on to improve inclusivity now and well into the future.

The best bit is, if business leaders can successfully create a framework for more diversity, inclusion and equality, everyone will reap the benefits. Inclusivity can bring greater creative thinking to solving any problem – as the more diverse teams are, the more varied the members’ ways of thinking and the broader the range of solutions they develop. By implementing the correct policies and practices – from fair hiring to offering mentorship and support – businesses can create a culture of respect and inclusion to actively support the career development of women and non-binary folks in the fintech space.”

Picture23110224 - Global Banking | FinancePicture23110224 - Global Banking | Finance

Pratima Arora, Chief Product and Technology Officer, Chainalysis

Pratima Arora, Chief Product and Technology Officer, Chainalysis “This year’s International Women’s Day theme of ‘Inspire Inclusion’ highlights that much more needs to be done to make careers in technology more inclusive. The landscape is not changing fast enough, especially in male-dominated industries like crypto where female representation in senior positions stands at 22.39% across the board, compared to 77.61% for men. Women often feel as though they don’t belong and opt out of STEM-related professions early in life due to a lack of awareness of the opportunities available to them. This starts at an education level – when I was at university studying computer science, there were only three girls in my entire class of 50. To build diversity in the industry, we must focus on creating an inclusive culture that nurtures female talent. Many of the barriers women face when it comes to pursuing a career in technology are due to lack of engagement, the confidence gap, outdated societal stereotypes, an intimidating male-dominated culture, and a lack of role models. We need to be role models and mentors for the next generation to inspire them and demonstrate what they can achieve. Industry events and recruiting conferences are a great opportunity to champion underrepresented talent to break these norms and highlight the various career paths for them within the industry. We also need more advocates, and it doesn’t just have to be women advocating for women.”