Women In FinTech: Eze’s Network Tackles Professional Growth
Welcome back, everyone. If you’re just joining us, we’ve been talking a lot about growth. Just as we help clients grow their businesses with the support of technology, our mission internally is to enable employees to grow with us, personally and professionally. One group we’ve focused on lately has been women – a growing part of the workforce that’s still vastly underrepresented in the financial and technology industries. If the buzz over State Street’s unveiling of the Fearless Girl statue is any indication, the time has come to talk about women’s advancement in the financial space.
While women enter the financial services space at roughly the same rate as males at the lower levels, as their careers progress, fewer and fewer make up the executive ranks. For instance, an Oliver Wyman study last year found that within S&P 500 companies, women at the first and middle levels make up roughly 45% of the workforce; however, that number drops to 28% by senior level, to 19.8% at board level. The numbers are even more dire on the fintech side; recent research by DHR International found that only 8% of fintech directors globally are women, compared to roughly 22% at the world’s biggest banks.
Why? Sally Blount, dean at Kellogg School of Management, suggests that women often lack support during pivotal points in their careers, and as a consequence, abandon their paths. At Eze, our goal is to help all our employees turn their vision into reality. When I started at Eze 10 years ago, I was one of a handful of women in the New York office, among 50-60 employees. As we quadrupled in staff, the percentage of women tackling traditionally male roles in sales, development, project management and consulting grew as well, with women making up a quarter of the global workforce now. What hasn’t changed, though, is the need to share our unique experiences as women navigating a male-dominated industry.
This is why we’re excited to launch The Network, the first formal networking organization for the women of Eze. As a technology company in the financial industry, we want to create an environment that bolsters personal and professional development through promoting supportive and positive relationships in order to develop and retain talented leaders across genders and backgrounds. The Network will leverage both internal and external resources to enhance employee engagement in growth, to deliver substantive content, and to help advance Eze’s overall culture of inclusion and diversity.
So what does that mean, in practice? That means getting together to hear from our leaders, male and female, sharing knowledge and skills within our areas of expertise, and diving into problems that are unique to the women in our industry. We’ll also participate in network-building opportunities outside of Eze, but first, we want to establish a strong base right here. Why? In the words of Eleanor Beaton, founder of Impact & Influence for Women, “Powerful networking is a great way to expand our influence, close that gap, and enhance our world outlook quicker.” We believe powerful networking begins at home, with strong women sharing knowledge and helping one another navigate pressures of the industry to make the experience more positive.
We’ve held a few sessions already here in NY, focusing on goal-setting, performance review management and presentation skills. In the coming months, we’re looking forward to hearing from Michael Hutner, executive managing director of Americas Sales, and Liza Hickey, senior managing director of Client Service Operations.
In the next month, we will be launching The Network globally across our 15 offices! So far, feedback from senior management and employees alike has been overwhelmingly positive, and I’m thrilled to be part of the effort. Stay tuned for our upcoming projects, and please reach out if you have any thoughts or suggestions – our goal here is to have proactive and productive dialogues that allow us to continue to build talent.
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Jenny Kim DeSmyter
Jenny Kim DeSmyter is Head of North America Business Development. She joined Eze Software Group in July 2007, and has held a number of positions in sales and client services in New York and Boston. Jenny is the founder of The Network, Eze Software’s leadership development program for women.