News from With

Diversity at MoneyFest by Money20/20

Are we even turning the diversity dial?

At the start of October, Deloitte issued a report which stated that just 3.1% of fintech startups had women-only founders. Even including companies that have female co-founders, that figure only rises to 12.2%. As reported in Finextra, the study also found that women-founded fintechs on average raised 50% less capital than those founded only by men. 

These are some pretty shocking figures that necessitate a shift in balance across the whole industry to generate inspiration and inclusion. But this will take more than the usual ‘nod’ to D&I on a conference agenda so it is great to see some strong sessions on D&I at this year’s MoneyFest virtual conference as well as some supremely impressive diverse keynotes. 

Should we stop making the business case for diversity?

Money20/20 of course also has its own RiseUp programme focused on empowering women in leadership. However one of the first stated aims is to ‘amplify the business case’ for diverse leadership. In an impassioned article in Sifted recently, ex RBS executive and now founder of inclusion consultants Fearless Futures, Hanna Naima McCloskey asked us to “Stop making the business case for diversity”. She goes on to explain that this is because “inclusion work that looks at how the people already leading businesses (generally any combination of white people, middle class people, heterosexual people, cis people, non-disabled people and/or men) can reap further material rewards, seems decidedly ill-suited for anything other than vacuous press releases, ineffective committees and events where the canapé budget far outweighs resources allocated for anything more meaningful.” 

So what should the financial services sector be committing to in order to really shift the diversity dial?

Putting your mouth where your money is

Money 20/20’s ‘Do Better’ campaign asks financial services companies to commit to ‘empowering real change and eroding systemic bias’ against wider diversity and inclusion targets. Two companies committing to that are Dave and Commerce Ventures: arguably sitting at the more innovative and agile end of the financial services spectrum. 

Whilst a company like Dave is already focused on financial inclusion, they make a bold pledge here to ‘increase board diversity’. If a community like Money20/20 can encourage meaningful and timely progress against such noble aims, then it is certainly moving in the right direction. Similarly, Commerce Ventures is stating its intention to engage more startups with founders from currently underrepresented backgrounds.  Offering the stage in 2021 to some of the companies making their pledges public would be a great way to measure the impact of this platform and keep the focus on inspirational inclusion efforts. 

Say what you see

Two different D&I reports landed in my social media feeds this week. Cleo’s (another fintech fighting for financial inclusion) was clear, transparent and actionable. They lay bare their numbers across age, gender, education, ability, carers, socioeconomic and sexual orientation benchmarks and really should be lauded for doing so. 

Rise, the fintech accelerator from Barclays also shared a huge amount of detail in their diversity report, which I received via Fintech Talents. Outside the overview of key diverse communities within Rise, they touch on some incredibly important topics like Decoding Bias in AI.  There are rich insights here, but it loses something in the formal nature of the report. I would love to have seen some alternative formats like video content to bring this to life to make sure this important information reaches the right ears. 

So while we can be heartened that there seems to be a real focus on D&I in the financial services space, the change required is undeniably massive. Consensus across the sector on what the goals should be and the most powerful routes to get there would be hugely beneficial. We would also love to see communities (like Money20/20) incentivising engagement with their diversity agenda even more significantly. 

In the meantime, here are three sessions we at With will be opening both our minds and our ears to next week.

  • How to align with male allies to create a female future in fintech 6.57pm GMT Wednesday 28th October
  • How to Detect Bias in Banking with AI, 2pm GMT, Thursday 29th October, Marcai Tal
  • Allyship is more than a marketing plan: How to have courageous conversations about race. 6.47 GMT

Get the latest news

Sign up to our newsletter to receive our latest stories directly to your inbox.

Sign up