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How we nurture an environment of gender diversity at GoCardless

Jutta Frieden
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Last editedJan 20202 min read

GoCardless is a fast growing FinTech startup based in London. Within the last 12 months, we’ve grown the number of women working at GoCardless from 8 to 18. They now make up for a quarter of our company and work across all departments. In comparison: the number of female entrepreneurs in FinTech has reached about 17%.

Building diverse teams is core to our business culture and this is communicated clearly both in our recruitment and hiring policy as well as internally. While everyone is in favour of actively supporting this, we are aware that the difference lies in the details and making a continual conscious effort to remove any bias.

We can make a difference by eliminating unconscious bias

I recently moderated a Gender in Tech panel in Berlin where we talked about how we can ensure we create an unbiased environment in our tech companies to attract more women employees. The 18 women at GoCardless took this as inspiration to organise an audit to review our office environment to make sure it’s attractive to both male and female employees. Whilst the specific details may appear minor, they can play an important part in creating the right workspace for women to feel welcome and comfortable.

Generally we feel that GoCardless is performing well. Many of our new employees applied to GoCardless due to our support and participation with specific groups and organisations such as Code First: Girls. The office has good facilities for men and women with well equipped bathrooms and showers, a stocked kitchen with a diverse range of food and drink and sports and leisure activities from basketball and bowling to cycling and yoga. We regularly host events in the office supporting all departments and encourage meetups and get togethers with similar teams in other organisations across the startup space. We’ve also recently updated our HR policies benchmarking against other businesses to offer extremely competitive employee benefits.

There is still room for us to improve…

Firstly, we realised all of our branded clothing is in male sizes and styles. This is an easy one to fix - we have now ordered womens sizes and styles so all employees feel comfortable supporting our brand at events and meetups.

We also realised that in departments where we have a higher percentage of male employees such as sales and engineering, a candidate may only meet male employees during the interview process. We have now updated our interview funnel to ensure that all candidates will meet with at least one female employee during the process. This is key for all potential employees as it demonstrates that diversity is critical to the culture at GoCardless.

Finally, we found that much of our external communication was driven by the men in our company. 8 out of the 10 most recent blog posts were written by male employees. We agreed to increase the number of blog posts written by women and already have the first writers lined up (watch this space).

Get the ball rolling

We have been inspired and encouraged to do this audit by many great individuals in this space. A special thanks goes to the panelists from Berlin: Inga Höltmann, Maxi Knust, Lisa Lang and Jana Scharfschwerdt, as well as some key individuals advocating women in tech in London: Phoebe Lebrecht and Leah Templeman.

We believe that having an environment where female employees feel happy, accepted, welcome and supported is key to encourage more women to take the step into working in the tech industry. We would love for other companies to do the same and nominate our FinTech friends in and outside of London to do a similar audit of their office. We need to plant the seeds to grow a sustainable female-friendly environment within the FinTech scene.

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