By Issy Cossey, Sales & Marketing Assistant

Today, as the world celebrates International Women’s Day (IWD), Pirum held an internal event to shine the spotlight on the remarkable women driving innovation here at Pirum. During the event, I spoke with a few of our female leaders to ask them about what IWD means to them.

IWD can be a time to pause and reflect on the gender equality journey – to recognise progress made, but also to question whether change is fast enough and what action can be taken to accelerate it.

According to the recent PwC Women in Work Report, it will take over 50 years to close the gender pay gap across the OECD. Moreover, in the UK, women still need to be appointed to around half of all senior leadership positions before the end of 2025 to achieve the 40% women in leadership target set by the FTSE Women Leaders Review.

Clearly this is a problem, so we took the opportunity to discuss how businesses can ensure meaningful and sustainable change at an acceptable pace and foster a more inclusive industry.

Equality of opportunity

Payal Lakhani, Senior Product Manager, made the powerful point that “opportunities shouldn’t be bound by gender. As a female professional, you are equally entitled to a seat at any fintech table". Whilst it’s easy to say this, it’s another thing to feel valued and accepted, like I do at Pirum. Both Payal and Esther Makiese, People Partner, stress the importance of ensuring that everyone feels included and valued at every stage of their career.

There was general consensus among the group that, to ensure real change in the fintech industry, we need to keep addressing the lacking gender balance on every level, including by identifying and removing biases. Fostering an inclusive culture that ensures more senior women stay in the workforce and have the opportunity to progress into senior leadership roles is more important than ever.

Eva Luterkort, General Counsel and ESG Lead, brought attention to the concerning lack of female representation at the top levels of the fintech sector, citing EY’s 2023 report Changing the face of UK FinTech that found that women only hold 10% of all board seats and represent less than 20% of fintech executives. Despite these challenges, there’s optimism as “more companies, like Pirum, are embedding diversity and inclusion-related issues into their culture, thereby creating more opportunities for underrepresented groups, including women”.

It is interesting that, when I posed the question about current opportunities for women, the interviewees often shifted the focus towards discussing how the industry can be more inclusive. This highlights a clear point: It's not just about what opportunities exist, but about ensuring they are equally accessible to everyone.

“Go for it”

Given the traditionally male-dominated fintech space, it's understandable that women may find it intimidating to enter the industry. When we discussed how women should pursue a fintech career, every response echoed a resounding encouragement: "Go for it”. Payal’s empowering words to “to take up space – be seen and be heard” particularly inspire me.

We also touched on the importance of mentors and sponsors throughout our careers, to guide us at various stages and to advocate for us when needed. The advice from more experienced colleagues to those newer to the industry was also to “leverage forums like Women in Securities Finance (WISF) to network with peers and senior female role models that inspire you to step out of your comfort zone”.

After we discussed the broader inequalities in fintech, we turned to how Pirum addresses these challenges and champions inclusion and diversity for women. The group felt strongly that part of Pirum’s DNA is hiring and retaining people who believe in a creating a work environment where every individual feels heard, empowered and valued.

Eva shared compelling insights, including the positive trend of female colleagues increasing from 16% to 23% in the last five years. She expressed confidence in further enhancing the gender ratio through our ongoing DEI efforts. “We can be especially proud of our hybrid working policy, improved parental policies, ongoing participation in the 10,000 Interns Foundation programme and sponsorship of the WISF network since its inception, all of which contribute to making Pirum, and by extension the fintech industry, a more equitable and inclusive place.”

#InspireInclusion together

Thinking about IWD naturally evokes thoughts of the remarkable women who inspire us. While responses varied, with mentions of figures like Michelle Obama and Ada Lovelace, one stood out – Payal Lakhani’s tribute to her mother, emphasising that she is the epitome of “strength, independence, intelligence and compassion”.

Philip Morgan, CEO, also shared a few thoughts:

“International Women’s Day is not just about celebrating the achievements of women; it’s a reminder of the work as an industry we still need to do to ensure a more equitable and successful future. Our female colleagues’ expertise, dedication, and unique perspectives are integral to our achievements. And we are committed to continuing to nurture a workplace where everyone, regardless of gender, feels valued and empowered. This is not just a goal for today, it’s an ongoing commitment to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion within our company and the broader industry.”

To wrap up a wonderful event, Varsha Mistry, People Director, added a few closing thoughts: “I am truly honored to work with incredible women at Pirum! As we celebrate the strength and resilience of the women at Pirum, I look forward to continuing to break barriers, inspire change and promote a work environment of inclusivity for all.”

After such an inspiring event I look forward to “taking up space” and making an impact in fintech.

Happy International Women’s Day!