Today, as on every International Women’s Day, I take some time to reflect on where I’ve been and, most importantly, where I’m going.
My expertise is in driving digital transformation and growing businesses at pace, and it’s something I’m proud of. One of the highlights of my career so far was successfully scaling Earthport, a cross-border payments business, until it was acquired by Visa, which won Tech Deal of the Year in the 2019 UK Tech Awards. By the time I joined Cashflows as chief executive officer in 2019, I already had a clear understanding of the three key elements to running a successful business: having the right people, maintaining focus, and embracing transformation.
On today, of all days, it makes sense to focus on people. It is really important to me that the Cashflows team reflects the diversity of our customers and partners—50% of whom are women. My opinions on how this should work in practice in businesses has changed over the years. In my early years in the fintech industry, even when I was the lone woman in an unfriendly boardroom, I did not believe in quotas of any kind. I firmly believed that meritocracy would always win out. Since then, I’ve learned two key things.
First, that diversity of thought is absolutely crucial to a business being successful, and second, that this won’t just happen on its own. We need to be proactive; we need to actively ensure that we’re creating corporate environments with diversity of thought and ideas.
One of my first actions when joining Cashflows was transforming our team to be reflective of our expertise as a company. I took a hands-on approach in our hiring process, ensuring that our team consists of industry experts who offered a different perspective. As a business, you have to ensure that you are surrounded by people who are prepared to roll up your sleeves and get involved with everything from strategy to tactics. In my opinion, this isn’t attainable without a team you trust.
I have spent my career advocating for women in an industry dominated by men. I’m proud to say that this advocacy can be seen in practice within my own teams. Two thirds of Cashflow’s senior leadership team are female, and during my time at Earthport, 50% of the executive team were women.
There are clear commercial benefits, too. Research shows that companies with at least one woman on the board perform 26% better than those with male-only boards. If that doesn’t incentivise other companies in the fintech industry to be as proactive as Cashflows, I don’t know what will!
As we near the end of Q1 2021, I’m genuinely optimistic about the future of gender diversity in fintech. The right things are being said, and the right initiatives are in place. We just need to do more, faster.