Open51 launches to demand greater diversity to tackle the gender data gap

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Women at the forefront of the transformation of the financial services sector have today launched Open51, an organisation that promotes the role of women developing open finance and the new data economy.  Members include entrepreneurs, technologists and business innovators from companies across the financial services sector, a sector that continues to suffer from a persistent lack of diversity and inclusion. Open51 champions the role women have in making open finance a reality and provides them with greater opportunities to have their voices heard and to share their expertise.

Open51 promotes diversity as key to the success of this new data driven era of financial services.  For open finance to deliver on its potential for all consumers, the financial services sector needs to ensure its workforce reflects the diverse society in which we live. In the UK 51% of the population is female, yet only 17% of roles in the sector are held by women – a figure that has remained unchanged since 2005[1].  This lack of diversity risks exacerbating data bias and the ‘gender data gap’ – detrimental to the success of open finance and to millions of consumers.  The first step in eradicating the gender data gap is to ensure companies in the financial services sector not only endorse the benefits of diversity but deliver them.

The co-founders of Open51 first met while working together in the open banking ecosystem and each commented on today’s launch. Amy Kroviak, Communications and Strategy Consultant, stated, “In a sector that has long struggled with gender diversity, the role women are having in driving the development of open finance is hugely impressive. However, it is unfortunate that women’s voices are less heard and their expertise less acknowledged. Open51 is about redressing the imbalance and working with other organisations to ensure that the contribution women are making in transforming the financial services sector is recognised”.

Felicia Meyerwitz-Singh, CEO of Akoni and Co-founder of Open51, further stated, “Open51 members believe that open finance has the potential to benefit millions of consumers across society, many of whom have been financially excluded or have needs that have not been met by traditional financial services products. However, the success of open finance is dependent on the financial services sector ensuring its workforce is diverse, reflecting the consumers and society it serves. It’s as simple as that. Eradicating data-bias, closing the gender data gap and delivering personalised products and services to all consumers requires a new way of working – one that is inclusive”.

Emma Steeley, CEO of AccountScore and Co-founder of Open51, added, “Women are leading on several fronts in the development of open finance but are seldom championed for their achievements – apart from gender- specific, women’s events. This must change.  It is important that the whole sector acknowledges the value women have in creating open data enabled products and the important contribution they will make to the development of effective regulation, policy and governance structures required by open finance and the broader data economy”.

Open51 has formed a strategic partnership with Open Banking Expo and will work collaboratively on key events and relevant campaigns.  Commenting on the partnership, Adam Cox, Co-founder at Open Banking Expo, stated,“We are delighted to support the launch of Open51 and we look forward to working with members to foster greater recognition of the impact women are having in delivering open finance.  As the statistics prove, the financial services sector has a long way to go in achieving gender diversity and it is down to all of us in the sector to remedy this. Open Banking Expo is committed to doing its part to ensure the burgeoning open finance sector prioritises diversity”.

Open51 members are advocating for change – to ensure that everyone can enjoy the benefits of the new, data-driven era of financial services. The pace of change enabled by new data-driven technologies creates opportunities as well as challenges.  Open51 members look forward to sharing approaches and knowledge to the benefit of the wider finance sector and other industries as we transition to this new era of financial services and the open data economy.

[1]Karen Croxson, Daniel Mittendorf, Cherryl Ng, Helena Robertson, (November 2019), Gender Diversity in UK Financial Services, Financial Conduct Authority, Research Note, page 9

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