Women in Fintech interview series: Instalment four with Eigen's Business Development Representative Ro Facundo
Earlier this year, we launched our Women in Fintech interview blog series inviting women, and those that champion them, to share their experiences and thoughts on gender diversity and inclusion more generally in the industry.
In this instalment, we talk to Ro Facundo, a Business Development Representative here at Eigen.
Ro, in your opinion, why is there a gender imbalance in fintech?
I would say there is a gender gap in fintech because senior leadership is predominantly male which trickles down to stereotypes surrounding fintech. Social media jokes about how working in finance or tech primarily entails of a “bro culture”, and a male-dominated atmosphere takes the attractiveness of applying to a fintech away from women, who are fonder of working alongside and being supported by other women.
I recently spoke with someone else who said that male leaders, often older and working senior roles, tend to think women are too sensitive to handle criticism, assume females can’t handle the pressure of objectives associated with fintech and lean towards hiring more men as a result.
There is also a misconception about how female relationships work; men generally believe women compete with each other given the low percentage of females compared to males. This isn’t the case at all.
Furthermore, women drive the marketing sector, which is often overlooked in this industry. Typically, other roles are at the forefront of the business, but marketing is basically the backbone of companies.
What does the industry miss out on by not having more women?
More diverse talent. If women aren’t included in important conversations, there’s a lack of perspective and innovation. Due to the gender gap, women feel more pushed to excel, so companies are missing out on that personal drive and ambition.
Women are usually viewed as more sensitive than men, which is actually a strength. It’s quite difficult for someone who lacks emotional intelligence to truly understand a customer’s needs, which is incredibly important in any industry, especially in SaaS sales. Failing to connect with a client’s struggles equals missed opportunities.
Do you have any advice to women to starting out in the industry?
If you’re part of a team that lacks female representation, reach out to women outside of your department and make those connections. I’ve gained a plethora of support and knowledge from multiple Eigen women outside of the sales team.
Male allies are important. If you’re working with mostly males, why not strengthen those already existing relationships? This improves gender equality overall, and builds that confidence for women to speak with men effortlessly.
Your ideas and opinions matter. From my experience of being the only female on a team now and in my last role, you should not have to feel intimidated being in a meeting with all men. They can learn from you just as you can learn from them.
How important are male allies and what can be done to help women feel more comfortable?
Having more collaborative meetings among men and women is essential If we aren’t having more shared experiences, how can we strengthen those equal relationships and learn from each other? It should be an initiative for leaders to ensure their team members are connecting. I’m extremely grateful for my male allies at Eigen – we’re always willing to help each other out.
How can employers attract more female talent into the industry?
Executives being mostly male discourages women from joining, because why would they want to apply for a dead-end job? Employers can attract more female talent with a proven track record of female promotions, and by having more women in leadership roles.
Public acknowledgement of female employees helps, which is what you are doing with this interview series! If you look at a company’s social feed and they are actively posting about female employees making a difference, that’s a green flag.
The US doesn’t have mandated paid maternity leave, and it’s an important benefit woman look out for when joining a company. Offering that security will give females more peace of mind.
How can employers retain women in their organisations?
Organizations should have women social groups. Eigen has a “Ladies of Eigen” Slack channel that allows female employees to openly share memes, articles, anything that is more catered to women than men. Especially in this virtual world caused by COVID, having an easily accessible support system from women has made a huge difference.
As with retaining any employee, the onboarding process is important because it’s your initial impression of working at the company. Since the percentage of women is often low compared to men, it would be comforting for women to know they are supported by other women by enabling them to connect during their first few weeks of trading. This also goes with the importance of male allies, making sure there is more connection building among men and women.
The best way to create bonds would be through meetings. If you cannot have a company outing or be in the office all the time, virtual meetings and weekly/bi-weekly check-ins with bonding implemented into them go a long way. A meeting where everyone can share their own ideas would be preferred because that is also really good bonding and enables companies to see the diverse perspectives that companies are missing out on.
If you would like to be part of the Women in Fintech conversation and would like to share your experiences and thoughts, please get in touch.