August 29, 2022 | Nick Holland
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Tracey Davies, President of Money20/20 to discuss diversity and inclusion initiatives for Money20/20 attendees, as well as for the wider fintech industry.
Here is our conversation…
Nick Holland (NH) So Tracey, our topic of discussion for today is diversity and inclusion in fintech, both within Money20/20 and as an industry as a whole. To kick us off, in terms of our overall diversity statistics on a 1 to 10 scale, how do you think Money20/20 is doing?
Tracey Davies (TD) I would say, we are probably at 9 out of 10 now when it comes to female gender inclusivity. When we launched Rise Up, about 11% of the people across our stages were women, and about 15% of the applications in the call for content process included women as speakers. This number has strongly increased over the years. Case in point, our Europe show this year where the percentage of subject matter expert women on our stages was just over 43%, and we're expecting Vegas in October to be north of 45%.
NH Can you elaborate on the program for readers that don’t know what Rise Up is?
Well, Rise Up launched in 2018, and it's a program that takes about 30 to 35 women in each cohort through a competitive application process when we then provide the women with a custom agenda onsite at the show along with a community to foster their growth both personally and professionally. If I look back and add up the cohorts over the years, nearly 300 women have been through the program. I feel proud to say that we have had a considerable impact. The last time I did the stats, more than half of the cohort up to that point had moved into more senior roles or went on to become their own boss.
NH There's an industry statistic that we are 136 years away from gender pay equity. How can we truncate that by say, 130 years, and how can we contribute to that truncation process?
The pay gap, as you know, is measured in different ways, yet seems pretty persistent. I think the first thing to recognize is that it's not necessarily a pay issue, because if you just go and pay-correct everyone it will emerge again. You have to be a committed organization to be truly diverse and inclusive, and pay is just a part of that. This isn't just on pay equity with women – there are lots and lots of other areas, there's a lot of inequity and pay around race, etc. But I think the more transparent the more goals and targets we publish, the more that gets published publicly, the more this problem will go away.
NH One area that I think is probably desperately in need of diversity is the venture capital space and investment in startups. So any recommendations for how the VC space could be improving on its diversity?
I think around 2% of funding in the US went to female founders. As you know, there are clearly some incredible VCs, being very intentional about funding in this area, and the founders and speakers on our stages are a testament to the fact that there's some great female run businesses. It's an area where we know more money needs to flow to female founders, and we need to get more roots for female founders to get access to the right VCs.
But remembering the statistics, female-founded businesses that have females at a senior level, do deliver stronger results – fact. We know that these businesses, the more diverse your business, often the more successful because you're more in tune with society at large. And that has implications for the products that are created and the way you talk to customers. This makes sense all round, it's just taking a while.
So let’s close out our conversation, Tracey. As we are both acutely aware, our Las Vegas show is just a few weeks out and 2023 in Amsterdam is being planned as we speak. What's on the agenda for diversity and inclusion?
TD We’re delighted to be bringing Rise Up back. And we debuted Amplify last year and we've got a full Amplify program this year. One thing that is new for this year for the USA show is that, under our “Do Better Together” initiative, we will be having a handful of sessions open to both the Rise up and Amplify cohort for them to really bond and connect with each other. We are always trying to iterate our product and bring the best yet so you can expect that, like other aspects of the show, we strive to have the most diverse shows yet.
I'm looking forward to a time when we don't have to have this conversation, because we're having this conversation because there's inequity, and that needs to move on. Now hopefully, it's not 136 years from now. The biggest delight for me will be when I don't have to talk about this topic, because it's just a given. We believe firmly that diversity and inclusiveness makes a better business, and, quite frankly, more fun out there. So, you'll see that – it's firmly part of what we do.
NH Thank you, Tracey. As ever, a delight to speak with you.
TD My pleasure, Nick. Take care.