LAST year, I was unable to take up a position on a panel at an industry event.
On informing the organisers, I was asked if I could suggest a woman to take my place. There was an implicit understanding that this woman would need to be linked to the P2P industry, but no further requirements were given.
I’ve had similar conversations with other industry event organisers who have made it clear they need to get more women on their panels when asking me to get involved. This enthusiasm seems great in theory, so why does it leave a bad taste in my mouth?
Gender diversity has come to the forefront of financial services in recent years. The Women in Finance Charter and the 2020 Women on Boards initiative have highlighted the lack of female representation across the industry and at the highest echelons of the UK’s largest companies.
Fintech is newer, disruptive and should, in theory, be better – yet the gender balance stays the same (if not worse). Of course, fintech is not helped in its gender-equality ambitions by the ‘tech’ – a field which typically tends to be dominated by men. I’m sure many of the people pushing for more women on panels mean well. But their efforts reduce me and other women on panels to little more than our gender which detracts from our achievements.
In the aforementioned instances, I was left feeling that my inclusion was simply ticking a box and had nothing to do with the fact that I’d launched and built up a successful industry magazine. There are plenty of women doing amazing things in this space – include them because they’re successful, intelligent individuals with something to add to the debate, not just because they’re women. That’s when we might start to see some real change.
This editor’s letter featured in the February issue of Peer2Peer Finance News, now available to read online.