The fact that InChorus, a reporting platform for workplace harassment, chose fintech as its ground zero is a sobering sign for the sector.
More sobering still is the fact that, this time last year, more than 500 incidents of harassment were reported through InChorus' system by fintech employees in the UK. Of those, 85% related to gender and 10% involved “unwanted physical contact”.
Unsurprisingly, more than 85 companies in the sector have since signed up to the FinTech For All Charter, which aims to tackle these issues with the support of the Financial Conduct Authority, Innovate Finance, Level39 and others.
The next phase in that initiative begins today, with the rollout of a new Slackbot which will track and collate data on microaggressions relating to harassment and diversity issues within the fintech sector.
“We really believe in the ongoing collection of data around this problem in order to ultimately drive accountability,” said Rosie Turner, cofounder and co-CEO of InChorus.
The plan is to aggregate the data to provide freely available insights on the sector as a whole. A handful of companies — including Funding Options and Concirrus — have signed up to use the tool at launch and will be analysing their own data for benchmarking against sector-wide stats.
Turner told Sifted that all 85+ signatories of the FinTech For All Charter will be invited to incorporate the technology shortly after today’s launch.
Curve, the digital bank, recently signed up to the charter. The firm’s cofounder and CEO Shachar Bialick told Sifted that the tool could “only be a good thing, as no one should have to come to work and suffer harassment in any shape or form, ever”.
“Despite having 33% women at Curve across all workforce (and 14% across engineering), the lack of gender parity across the industry remains a painful issue, something which Curve itself is trying to address by actively attracting more women to its employee base, particularly in engineering,” Bialick added.
The number of incidents (more than 50) involving unwanted physical contact reported during InChorus’s first data collection effort early last year is particularly painful — and over half of these were not isolated incidents. Surprisingly, the data did not suggest that the majority of people who had experienced this were more junior than the perpetrators.
In other words, as Turner puts it, harassment “very much wasn’t a dinosaur problem” in fintech, but one affecting staff of varied age and rank.
Fintech was the first industry targeted by InChorus after it launched in late 2017 (it has just begun its second data collection effort, focusing on the electronic music industry).
Turner said she and her cofounder Raj Ramanandi had looked for a sector in which “there are problems — and that’s everywhere — but I guess also where the energy feels right to change the way things are being run currently”.
This feels like a delicate way of saying that 'disruptive' fintech firms, so often critical of their old school counterparts, ought to do better.