Inclusion and diversity have the potential to change the industry for the better – if only the industry would get onboard.

Black Lives Matter. #MeToo. The gender pay gap. Mental health awareness. Inclusion and diversity are hitting the headlines around the world, and it‘s long overdue. But is it making a difference, or is everyone just jumping on the bandwagon of the latest hot topic alongside veganism and cutting down on single-use plastic?

Whilst EWPN (European Women Payments Network) focuses on gender parity within payments and FinTech, we are also committed to increasing diversity and inclusion in all areas. Intersectionality, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation/identity, to name a few. Now we want to go further.

We want to get the industry talking about and understanding all areas of diversity, making real change for the sake of future generations. If this industry continues to be dominated by middle-class, middle-aged men, how can we expect to encourage the next generation into payments and finance? When it seems there are opportunities only for certain types of people to progress to the top, is this a deterrent for generation Z?

Women account for just 2% of financial services CEOs and less than 20% of executive board members. The Bank of England is failing to meet its gender diversity targets. Japan’s Mizuho has admitted that only 3% of its senior staff are women. And, just 10% of management jobs in the UK are held by members of the black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) community.

Specialist recruiter Randstad recently claimed that the UK economy would be £24bn bigger if those from BAME backgrounds progressed in their careers at the same pace as their white colleagues.

McKinsey and Company’s report ‘Delivering Through Diversity’ showed that companies in the top 25% for ethnic diversity were 33% more likely to achieve profit above the industry average. The report also showed that more ethnically diverse boards were 43% more likely to outperform on profits and those in the top 25% for gender diversity were 21% more likely to achieve profit above the industry average.

There is still much work to be done. And working with financial utility, Banking Circle, we have recently commissioned research that brings together insights and experiences from over 300 banking and finance professionals. The aim of the collaborative project was to reveal where the industry sits today. For example: discrimination individuals experience at work, opinions on industry efforts to enact change and whether those working in the industry have seen positive changes take place.

A new report by EWPN and Banking Circle – End of the Tunnel – looks at the findings, along with wider market insight on the issue of diversity and inclusion and what can be done to help to bring an end to the institutionalised tunnel-vision.

A snapshot

Key findings from the research suggest that, despite the current focus, we have yet to see meaningful change occur.

Arguably the most revealing finding was that within an industry heavily-dominated by men, 60% of those who responded to our invitation and took part in the survey were women. This could suggest that the women we invited to take part see the importance of the issues more clearly and were, therefore, more inclined to provide feedback than the men we invited.

Other key findings include the 27% who feel there is a gender imbalance in their current company, and the 38.5% who felt that they have not been given the same opportunities and/or reward as others due to their gender.

46% of our respondents have felt the need to falsify, hide or deliberately not disclose at least one element of their identity: 19% have hidden their age; 20% their political or social beliefs; 12% their religious beliefs and 8% their level of education. 5.5% have even had cause to hide their gender. Many respondents told us they have hidden their status as a parent or expectant parent, and some have even felt the need to hide a disability.

It is, however, encouraging to see that the proportion of respondents who feel that increasing diversity would be beneficial (88% recognise potential benefits) far outweighs those who have direct experience of discrimination. But over half (59%) do not believe the industry does enough to encourage gender parity and diversity with respect to opportunity and pay.

This gives a clear indication that the wider industry is ready to get on board and work together to improve diversity, inclusion and equality. But it has some way to go and this will not be an overnight turnaround. Nor will it be an easy change, occurring naturally as the older generation retires, as some of our survey respondents hope.

A commitment to on-going research

With each generation our society becomes more diverse, yet the workforce within financial services has not kept up and does not mirror the rich diversity of society. Diversity breeds creativity, innovation, wellness, employee satisfaction, lower staff turnover, better customer service, increased profits.

No organisation, individual or even government can have the necessary impact in silo. We need to stand together, work together, learn together and make changes together. If we sit back and wait for change to happen, it won’t.

For that reason, the study conducted in partnership with Banking Circle is just the first of a number of research projects to be undertaken by EWPN in 2019 and beyond.
Research based knowledge and the questions that such knowledge and insight deliver have the potential to drive great commercial value as well as improve social awareness. How companies relate to issues of gender and diversity has an effect on commercial; reputational and organisational dimensions. Companies that promote and seek to have diversity in their workforce and decision-making abilities tend to innovate more and do better commercially. They also tend to attract and retain better talent.

The wider EWPN research programme, therefore, seeks to support and inspire collaboration and knowledge sharing between companies in payments and FinTech; not-for profit and academia. The aim is to foster knowledge production and collaboration that will benefit the sector as a whole as well as EWPN members specifically.

EWPN has experienced researchers in its network who are in engaged in these issues, but as a non-for-profit organisation it is crucial we also receive support from companies in our industry to enable us to secure the widest possible insight. We are already partnering with the Emerging Payments Association to pool resources and data and our collaboration with Banking Circle demonstrates the value that can be delivered by working together. Any other business interested in working with EWPN should contact Stanley Skoglund (

Getting the message out wider

We believe, at EWPN, that the wider the reach for our messages, the more positive impact that can be achieved. We have, therefore, just signed an alliance with Wnet – the US-based equivalent network to EWPN.

Wnet (Women’s Network in Electronic Transactions) launched in 2005 and is the premier professional organisation for women in payments and the men who advocate for them. The organisation serves over 1,500 women each year in the US, through events, information and knowledge sharing and networking opportunities.

We believe this exciting alliance will see EWPN and Wnet working together, leveraging both networks for the benefit of all our combined members. Wnet has been running for a decade longer than EWPN, and we look forward to learning from our US colleagues. Both networks are dedicated to improving prospects for all women in the payments industry, increasing inclusivity and diversity. Sharing our insights, knowledge and membership will make us both stronger and allow us to bring about change as quickly as possible.

We will also publish events run by both organisations on both websites, inviting members to attend and to become members of both networks. We will share knowledge and leverage expertise across both sides of the Atlantic by sharing research, blogs, white papers, content for newsletters and lists of expert speakers. In addition to all that, Wnet members will be invited to attend EWPN local meet-ups throughout the year, and the annual conference, which is the only Pan-European Conference focused on women working in FinTech & Payments. EWPN members will also be invited to attend all Wnet events, including our annual Leadership Summit, local network events and valuable webinars.

EWPN aims to provide the platform for industry-wide conversation which brings about real change for the benefit of this and future generations working in and using the services of the financial industry.

The full report, ‘End Of The Tunnel – Seeking the light: inclusion, diversity and the end of institutionalised tunnel-vision’, is available to download for free here.

Written by Miranda McLean, European Women Payments Network Executive Board Member and SVP Global Head of Marketing at Banking Circle

This post first appeared in the Money20/20 Europe edition of Payments Cards and Mobile Magazine

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