There is growing global appreciation of women in Fintech, and FinTech Australia is recognizing this phenomenon with a new award for female Fintech leaders. FinTech Australia has announced the Female FinTech Leader of the Year award as part of its inaugural Finnies awards being held on 24 May. This new award will be in addition to an existing Finnies Excellence in Workplace Diversity Award, which covers all forms of diversity in the workplace. There are now 30 different categories for the Finnies designed to showcase the emerging Fintech ecosystem in Australia.
“Australia has a number of excellent female fintech industry leaders and we are keen to reward and recognise one of these leaders as part of the Finnies,” said FinTech Australia CEO Danielle Szetho. “Unfortunately, the latest figures show that women are under-represented in our industry, particularly in leadership roles. We hope this award will help highlight the great work of women in our industry and therefore encourage more women to get into fintech either as company founders or employees. I encourage the Fintech community to come forward and nominate women who have made a difference. Importantly, you can nominate someone without letting them know beforehand.”
FinTech Australia says that a series of recent reports have underlined the concerning state of female participation in the Fintech and the startup industry in general, both in Australia and globally. The group points to several datapoints: For instance:
- The EY FinTech Australia Census 2016 published in November last year found just 13% of Australian Fintech leaders are female, while only 22% of all Fintech employees are female.
- The 2016 Startup Muster report found that just 23.5% of Australian startup companies are founded by females, although this figure has improved from 16.1% in 2014.
- The same report found that 47.5% of startup companies had no full-time female employees.
- The Women in UK Financial Services 2016 report by New Financial found that, in the UK, just 7% of Fintech boards were made up of women, with 16% of executive committee members made up of women.
- The Inno Tribe Power Women in FinTech Index reported that, in 2015, there was just one female CEO out of the top 50 Fintech firms across the EU.
- A 2014 study by McKinsey & Company that tracked 366 public companies in the US, Canada, UK, Brazil, Mexico and Chile found a 15% increase in financial returns above their national industry median for companies with higher gender diversity leadership numbers.
This will be the first year that FinTech Australia hosts the Finnies. They will be the first industry-backed Fintech awards to be held in Australia. The awards have received some government support as Jobs for NSW has provided $80,000 for a two-year sponsorship of the Finnies. Jobs for NSW CEO Karen Borg said;
“Congratulations to FinTech Australia for introducing a Finnies award to celebrate the contribution of women to Australia’s Fintech industry, helping to highlight female participation in the industry. Jobs for NSW’s support for the Finnies aims to promote growth of our Fintech industry which is an exciting segment of our startup ecosystem with great potential to drive digital revolution in financial services. The Finnie Awards will showcase the leading achievements from our Fintech sector focusing on innovators and trailblazers who demonstrate long-term vision in building sustainable business growth.”
FinTech Australia President Simon Cant said: “These are the first fintech industry-backed awards to be held in Australia and will help us showcase our best industry trail-blazers as well as the most exciting emerging ventures and talent.”
Claire Wivell Plater, who is a Finnies judge and founder of The Fold Legal, said she was excited to see that FinTech Australia was responding to the female participation issue.
“Although fewer women have STEM backgrounds at the moment, the Startup Muster report amply demonstrates that fintech companies need skills in a broad range of areas, in many of which women are well represented. What’s more, it makes business sense – 50% of the customer base are women, so it’s little wonder that businesses with gender diverse leadership enjoy greater success.”