MALE ALLY IN FINTECH
What's your story? What drew you to FinTech?
This is kind of a funny story. My background is finance. I graduated from the University of Calgary with a degree in Finance and Economics. When in University, I was the classic "I'm going to be an investment banker" student. However when I started getting to know the other folks that had a similar ambition, I was a bit turned off. This threw me into a mid-university life crisis. I was very apathetic about my career at the time and took a whatever job at RBC upon graduating. After about a year, I was pretty dissatisfied. So I quit and moved to Toronto. I thought I was a smart young person who would be able to get a job no problem. That turned out not to be true. I struggled a lot. I worked at Starbucks for almost a year just to get by. My mom actually called me one day and told me that she read about a company called "Wave Accounting" in the Globe and Mail. Instead of applying, I showed up to their office in a three piece suit to learn more. I was lucky enough to get my first client success position for an amazing emerging FinTech company and the rest is history!
What do you think are some of the most exciting FinTech trends likely to influence the Financial Services industry?
Oh boy! This is a good question. Honestly, I think the most exciting trend is simply the modernization of the tech stacks we are utilizing in financial services. We are seeing some really exciting companies like Revolut, Plaid, and Robinhood who are using modern technology to deliver new and awesome experiences to their clients. I know Blockchain is what gets everyone really hyped up, but these companies are leveraging technologies to add a lot of value in a practical way to their clients. I know this is a boring answer, but I like Wealthsimple's investment strategy - boring can be amazingly powerful!
What percentage of your team is female? And what percentage of your team is made up of women of color?
53% of the team is female and 26% of the team are women of colour.
(Note: I am defining women of colour as non-white.)
What advice would you give to other men trying to build inclusive teams?
I think the biggest problem is that people don't understand unconscious bias. As new managers or leaders, it is so easy for us to hire people that are 'like' us. If you are more like me, you will perform like me, right? That may be true, but if you think bigger picture this ideal falls apart quickly. On a base level if my team is like me, then we are going to solve problems the same as I would. But, what if there is a better way to solve that problem? Without a diverse team, we are likely not to find that better solution. For client success specifically, we serve a diverse population of clients. It is important that our staff is representative of our clients and we aim to serve everyone! So, it makes sense to hire a diverse team across age, sexual orientation, race, etc. My advice is to think about hiring from the perspective of rounding out your team and complementing existing members. Using this tactic, it actually becomes pretty easy to hire a diverse team. On the inclusion part, this really comes down to your team and corporate culture. Inclusivity is very important to us at Wealthsimple and we facilitate regular culture and specific inclusivity surveys to understand the areas our company is weak. We then put into place specific measures to become a more inclusive work environment. As individual leaders, we can set the tone on our team and be advocates internally for these types of initiatives to be standardized throughout the organization.
What advice would you give to ladies who are trying to break into FinTech?
Good question! I think about this a lot and I am not sure that I have good targeted advice specifically for ladies. But, I do believe that we all have the ability to achieve the things we are extremely dedicated to. So, my advice would be to decide if pursuing a job in FinTech is what you really want and why. If you go through this process and decide that it is important to you, I am confident you will find a way to be successful. Will it be frustrating and at times unfair? Probably. But, we all have to work together and work hard if we are going to make a difference. Unfortunately, diversity issues are not going to solve themselves overnight. But if we commit to trying, we can make a difference and from there we can work on making it easier for those who come after us.
Why is Male Allyship important? And what do you consider are the responsibilities of being a Male Ally?
Honestly, I am new to this terminology. To start, why is allyship important? I think it is hard to objectively look at the facts and deny that we don't have a problem. Knowing that, I think we all need to align to correct what is obviously wrong. This is not a 'female' problem or a 'person of colour' problem. This is a societal problem and I believe we all need to work together to solve the problem. Additionally, the more I learn, the more I understand privilege. As a person of privilege, I think it is important to step up and call it out. I am a person of privilege! Knowing this, how can I leverage this privilege to help even the playing field for others? I don't know that I even fully understand what my responsibilities of being an Ally are yet. But, I am committing my team to learning and I am holding myself accountable to making my work environment more fair and more inclusive for everyone.
What do you think are the top reasons behind gender inequality in FinTech? And what is your company doing to address these challenges?
As I mentioned earlier, I think unconscious bias is a big one. We know what we know and the unknown is scary! However, I believe the contributing issues are broader than this. Specifically things such as our education system, the gender pay gap, and the historic male dominance of Finance/Banking (both in the media and in practice). These are big and challenging issues to overcome and it is going to take us time to overcome them. As for what Wealthsimple is specifically doing, I would recommend you check out our Diversity Report. I mentioned earlier that this is an important issue for us as a company. So, we are taking very measured steps to move the needle. We are also going to keep publishing our progress as a means to hold ourselves accountable and to start the conversation. I think so many people are afraid to have this dialogue because it is a complex issue and I think businesses are scared of getting called out. But if we don't openly talk about the issue at hand, how are we ever going to make true and lasting progress?
If you did not need to sleep, how would you spend the extra eight hours a day?
Haha, I wish I didn't need to sleep and some may argue I don't! Honestly, I would spend all eight hours with my daughter - Winifed. I get to spend one hour with her in the morning and the whole weekend! If I lived a life with zero constraints, I would spend a lot more time with her!
In Tyler Meema's own words, exclusively for LADIES iN FINTECH.
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