Accenture’s FinTech Innovation Lab London says it changed its recruiting practices to be more gender inclusive, increasing the number of female founders in its new cohort by 50%, according to Markets Media.
Tom Graham, managing director in banking at Accenture and lead sponsor of the lab, said it was “terrible” that just 1% to 5% of fintech firms have female chief executives, and that reducing the gender gap has become a priority.
“We wanted to remove the barriers to entry for female founders,” he said.
Working with F6S, a platform that connects startup founders, and leveraging its own network of female alumni and mentors, the lab recruited female-run companies to apply. While the new class boasts a 50% increase in the number of female founders compared to last year’s cohort, just four of the 20 startups appear to be women-led.
As part of the shift, this year’s program will also feature master class sessions led by female CEOs and events especially tailored to women in financial technology.
The lab, which launched in 2012, has accelerated 94 startups that have secured approximately $500 million (€496m) of funding. It recently received about 300 applications from around the world to join the new cohort.
Caroline Hughes, a 2019 participant who co-founded a home-buying platform called Lifetise, applauded the efforts.
“I think it’s extremely important that female founders, of fintechs in particular, are encouraged to take part in these programmes as there is still plenty to be done to narrow the gender gap in the industry,” she said in a statement.