International Women’s Day is a great way to focus minds and take stock of where we are as a society and an industry when it comes to gender equality. In reality, as a business, that is a question that we ask ourselves, in one form or another, every day.
One of our key strengths is the way in which we bring diverse communities together to discuss the future of financial services, fintech, and technology. As we look to ask the tough questions about the role of the financial services industry in the broader economy and society, including the ways in which it meets the needs of individuals, and businesses, the make-up of those industries is a key metric of success and sustainability.
How can financial services – or any industry for that matter – create products or services built on an understanding of their customers, communities, end-users, economies, and societies if they don’t incorporate the full range of perspectives? Outcomes require action and diversity isn’t an annual stocktaking exercise but a purposeful, informed and intentional process.
We aim to include and amplify the voices of the awesome women in our industry in everything we do. We commit ourselves to diverse speaker faculties and endeavour to elevate women who have not yet participated in public facing speaker roles. The ultimate goal for us is that all that we do – from the stage to the exhibition floor – looks like the communities in which they take place.
The frustration is that the teams we work with are not always representative of the broader society in which they sit. And it is a real frustration. We have heard from prospective male speakers that they won’t participate in a ‘Manel’ yet when asked to put forward a woman in their team…sometimes the response is (at best) silence.
So, whilst it is great to proclaim that you won’t join in a male-only session, even better is to work with us to #breakthebias by suggesting a replacement. That is the way we can work together to take concrete action. If you can’t recommend someone to replace you, then we all have a lot more work to do. We all need to continue to ask ourselves the question – why and what can I do about it?
Words are great but outcomes require action.
Laura Camplisson, Future Identity Portfolio Lead, VC Innovations
Over the past five years working in content and events, I’ve seen the conversation around equity and representation really gather momentum. It’s amazing to see more and more people calling out a lack of diversity when they see it.
But in both fintech and identity, we still have a way to go. To achieve a gender balance on our speaker line-ups, we need more companies and executive teams to put forward women to represent them. Renouncing panel sessions which don’t include women is important, but championing women in your network who could fill the gaps will have a far greater impact.
Then on a wider industry level, we also need to address the barriers and biases that prevent more women from reaching leadership positions in financial services and technology.
I feel very fortunate at VC Innovations, to work in a content team made up of incredible women, who support and encourage each other every day. We will continue to do all we can to make sure women’s voices are represented through the work we do. Not just on International Women’s Day, but every day.
Jessica Mager, Product & Growth Manager, VC Innovations
I have worked on events across Maritime, Energy, Agriculture, Fintech and Financial Services. Diverse representation has been an issue within all these industries. With the Women in Finance Charter recently showing that senior management gender equality is still 30 years away, we all have a personal responsibility to understand this, take initiative and encourage the promotion of diverse talent.
Our events provide a meeting place for our fintech community, where members share ideas, opinions, and connections. We want to promote a community that encourages innovative thinking, which can only come from a diverse agenda of speakers and audience.
Flora Pleguezuelos, Product & Content Manager, VC Innovations
Working on events for the fintech and financial industry in the past few years has made me realise early on that I could play a role in improving the representation of women in these industries. It is a conscious decision that I make every day and for every conference that I put together.
It is not always an easy task – industry wise, but it is worth the extra mile. It is truly inspiring to see women working, achieving success, and paving the way for even more change in an industry that has been lacking in diversity for far too long.