Despite the prevalence of the fintech industry in Southeast Asia (SEA), women are revealed to hold just 13 per cent of management, board, and investor roles across the fintech ecosystem. This finding was revealed in a study titled Taking Stock & Looking Ahead: Gender Diversity in Southeast Asia’s FinTech Landscape by Russell Reynolds Associates (RRA), a global leader in board leadership and executive search, in collaboration with the Singapore FinTech Festival (SFA).
The findings of this study shed light on the gender disparities prevalent across various levels of the fintech ecosystem in SEA.
Delving deeper, the study revealed that the representation of women is higher at earlier-stage companies (Series A to C), standing at 16-18 per cent in management roles. However, this percentage declines to 11 per cent in Series D and drops even further to 10 per cent in public companies.
Interestingly, regarding board representation, the percentages are comparatively higher for Series D and public companies, at 15 per cent and 24 per cent, respectively.
SEA’s fintech landscape is dynamic, driven by growing economies and expanding populations. The region has witnessed a fourfold increase in fintech deals from 2015 to 2022, reaching a pinnacle in 2021. With such robust growth, private capital, particularly venture capital (VC) and private equity (PE), holds significant influence.
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If these investment entities prioritise diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in their portfolios, they can wield a transformative impact on leadership and management practices in the region.
The study further revealed that only 33 women founders or CEOs are identified across SEA fintech companies, constituting a mere nine per cent. Post-Series-B funding, this number dwindles to just six per cent, highlighting the challenges women face in attaining leadership roles as companies mature.
Notably, gender diversity at the investor level mirrors that at the management level. Women comprise an average of only 14 per cent of lead partners on deals, showcasing a need for increased representation and opportunities for women in decision-making roles.
The study offers valuable insights into potential solutions for enhancing gender diversity in fintech leadership.
Role modelling emerges as a crucial factor, emphasising the importance of visible diversity in inspiring and encouraging others. The study also underscores the significance of mentorship and a supportive network for women leaders.
Overcoming self-confidence and self-promotion challenges is identified as a common struggle among women leaders in the fintech sector.
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