The news last week that Apple co-founder Stephen Wozniak got a credit limit from the new Apple Card that was 10 times higher than his wife got, despite their having similar financial profiles, spoke to the reality of gender bias being built into artificial intelligence algorithms — and for the same exact reasons as in many other realms: assuming that being gender “neutral” achieves gender equitable outcomes. This coincided with my attending the FinTech Festival in Singapore, which was very encouraging in terms of the promise of ubiquitous access to very tailored value propositions. The risks and opportunities of FinTech will be dominant themes of our 2020 Summit, which we are proud to announce will take place June 2-4 in Singapore, hosted by Alliance member Mastercard. Please mark your calendars.
The theme “Shifting the Paradigm: The Female Economy 2020 and Beyond” was chosen because we are at a pivotal point in terms of awareness in the financial services sector of the business opportunity women represent, in terms of gender diversity and inclusion, in terms of technology that is radically transforming the way we access and use financial services, in terms of altering the incentive structure through gender data reporting and evolution of gender lens investing, and in terms of a reckoning on where we are in the achievement of goals: 2020 marks 25 years since the UN Women’s Conference in Beijing, widely regarded as a groundbreaking event in putting the financial and economic empowerment of women firmly on the agenda.
This month we are also proud to share that Alliance members who participated in Mercer’s “When Women Thrive” survey have scored way above the average for the financial services sector in terms of their workforce gender diversity and inclusion. The internal labor force map for these organizations — indicating gender composition by level in the organizational structure as well as hiring, promotion and exit flows — shows that women are being promoted at twice the rate of men into the executive level and are being promoted and hired at equal rates into manager positions. However, the map reveals that the level in between, senior managers, needs to be a real focus in order to keep the pipeline into the executive level strong. Women make up just 32 percent of senior managers, and yet men are still being promoted and hired into that level at greater rates than women. We encourage all members to avail of this unique analysis offered by Mercer, under which they will each get a personalized report benchmarked against the financial services industry.
A shout out to achievements in our network news roundup and a reminder to those interested in attending our All-Stars Academy in Ecuador January 20-24 to register. You can take a look at our just-announced agenda for the event here.
Last but not least, a warm welcome to our newest member, First City Monument Bank, Nigeria. In this issue, Mrs. Bukola Smith, Executive Director, Business Development, spoke with us about financial inclusion of women in Nigeria, the bank’s strategy for supporting women in the country and their decision to join the Alliance.