Wednesday, 8 March 2023

International Women’s Day 2023: Stockspot’s four steps to address disparity in finance and tech sectors

by Berkeley Lovelace

  • Work still needed to crack the code of getting more women in tech and finance sectors 
  • Women’s lack of confidence often reason for disparity in finance and investment sectors
  • Revolut research shows men are twice as likely to know how to invest on the stockmarket than women

So, what are you doing today for International Women’s Day (IWD)? Perhaps where you work is holding a special breakfast, morning tea or lunch.

Are the women in your team featuring in any promotional or social media material recognising their contribution?

Today, March 8, is IWD. Officially recognised by the United Nations in 1977 IWD celebrates the achievements of women and has become somewhat high profile in recent years.

IWD has also become a call to action for accelerating gender parity with this year’s theme Cracking the code: innovation for a gender equal future.

According to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report 2022 the global gender gap has been closed by 68.1%.

But at the current rate of progress, it will take 132 years to reach full parity, only a slight four-year improvement compared to the 2021 estimate of 136 years to parity.

First, let’s focus on this year theme.


Tech lagging in gender equality

While women and girls represent half of the world’s population, they are under-represented across the technology sector.

According to the UN, women and girls remain underrepresented across the creation, use and regulation of technology.

“They’re less likely to use digital services or enter tech-related careers, and significantly more likely to face online harassment and violence,” the UN said.

“This limits not only their own digital empowerment but also the transformative potential of technology as a whole — over the past decade, women’s exclusion from the digital sphere has shaved $1 trillion off the GDP of low- and middle-income countries.”


Finance lagging too

And because Stockhead is a finance site, we thought it important to focus on just how parity for women across the sector is in 2023. Sadly, there is still room for improvement.

From women working in finance to their actual financial well-being compared to men there is still much work to be done.

Here’s a snapshot:

According to ABS data women over the age of 55 are the fastest-growing group to experience homelessness
Women constitute 38.4% of all full-time employees and 68.5% of all part-time employees
• The gender pay gap in Australia stands at 13.8% less for women  for full-time average weekly earnings
• Women often retire with significantly less superannuation than men
• In Australia only 20% of women are represented across investment and senior leadership roles in the finance sector

Stockspot head of superannuation & partnerships Enid Lal is passionate about achieving gender equality and empowerment of women and girls in both the technology and investment (asset management) industry.

Lal also co-leads in Melbourne the not-for-profit organisations Women in ETFs, which has more than 8,000 members globally with a presence across US, Canada, EMEA and APAC.

“We’re working towards increasing diversity in the investments/ETF industry and creating a diverse pipeline of senior investments/ETF professionals,” she told Stockhead.

Lal has been in the asset management industry for over 20 years and said progress has been made but there is still work to be done.

“There’s only about 20% of women in investment teams compared to 80% of men,” she said.


Women lack confidence applying for roles

Lal said the reason for the gender disparity in investment teams and the finance sector is often there is a lack of confidence among women when applying for roles.

“For example, I’ve seen research that shows women are less likely to apply for roles if they don’t meet 100% of the selection criteria,” she said.

“On the other hand, men apply for jobs even if they only meet 60% of the criteria.”

She said secondly, unconscious bias still exists when hiring for senior roles.

“There are also biases that men can do a better job,” she said.

“At the Women in ETFs forum we do a lot of work with women, particularly young women who are interested in the field but may lack confidence or need guidance to pursue their careers.”


Lal’s four steps for more women in the investment and tech sectors


1.Developing networks of advocates for gender equality

“Personally, I have found developing networks of advocates for gender equality among both men and women who can address barriers the most effective,” Lal said.

“Women have enough mentors, we need allies, advocates and leaders who recognise women may not have same level of confidence.

“It’s a mindset shift as well for women.”


2. Addressing discrimination in workplaces when hiring and promoting

Lal said it’s important to challenge the traditional norms of hiring and setting responsibilities to attract women in key roles.

She said both men and women can be champions of change and lead the way. For example, sharing high profile responsibilities in a project.

“I have seen women working behind the scenes such as preparing agendas or ensuring a smooth implementation,” she said.

“Small changes along the way in sharing responsibilities equally can lead to an equitable outcome.”


3. Ensuring salary ranges are transparent

“Women may not necessarily ask for a salary increase, therefore being transparent about what their male counterparts are earning may address the pay gap,” Lal said.


4. Supporting more women and girls in STEM courses

Lal said supporting women and girls in STEM courses paves the way for future female talent in the tech and investment areas.

She said this can be achieved by offering scholarships and providing support to female students studying STEM.

“Fostering an inclusive culture in class and at work helps instil confidence,” she said.


Stockspot seeing gender parity among investors

But in some good news Stockspot is seeing some gender parity among users of its trading platform.

“In 2023, for the first time ever, Stockspot has seen a 50/50 split between male and female investors. I’ve seen research that shows women are more likely to invest their savings and become long-term investors,” Lal said.

She would like to see more women in investment roles means as role models for female investors and young women entering the workforce.

Revolut research shows men twice as likely to invest

However, while Stockspot may be finding more parity between men and women on their platform, research at fintech Revolut has shown men in Australia are more than twice as likely as women to know how to invest in the stock market (52% vs 23%), and there are almost double the amount of men who invest compared to women (43% vs 23%).

Furthermore, the fintech’s research showed that of those who currently invest in the stock market, three in five (61%) believe the world of stock trading and investing has traditionally been, and still is, tailored and targeted towards men.

Following the research and in celebration of IWD, Revolut has launched a new stock trading learning course aimed at advancing financial literacy and financial inclusion among Australian women.

Revolut CEO Matt Baxby told Stockhead that by making financial literacy more accessible for everyday people it’s hoped strides can be made towards achieving financial equality.

“We are proud to launch this course in celebration of International Women’s Day and hope to educate and empower all stock trading newcomers to get in control of their personal finances,” he said.

To learn more about women in tech, mining and finance we asked leaders in the field. You can read about what they had to say here.

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