Wise and the Women in Finance Charter

September 2021 update

In September 2020 we signed up to HM Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter, and pledged to improve the gender balance of the Wise senior leadership team.

The Women in Finance Charter was created to fix unequal gender representation in financial services, especially in senior management. It’s a voluntary charter that companies sign to publicly commit to improving that imbalance.

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We committed that by the end of 2021, 40% of senior leaders within Wise would be women. We also committed to increase the diversity of the Wise board by appointing female board members.

We defined senior leadership as the people on Wise’s formal leadership team, plus the heads of teams across our global workforce, who directly report into this group. Today, that’s 75 folks from across our 3,000 Wisers, spanning 17 global offices.

Three team members working together

How are we doing?

When we signed the pledge a year ago, we didn’t have a single, universal approach to job titles between different teams. We also didn’t have a complete data set for the demographics of Wise, including how Wisers self-identify. Using the data available – passport and binary gender data – we estimated that 34.5% of senior leadership identified as women.

Since we signed the pledge, we’ve restructured our approach to job titles and introduced career levelling, ensuring consistent comparison between different areas of the business. We’ve also kicked off a massive project to collect more detailed demographic data from our Wisers, via voluntary self-ID. Together, these pieces of work are allowing us a better understanding of how Wisers identify and where we could do better in creating a diverse and inclusive working environment.

After implementing career levelling across the business, we reran the data. This showed us that we were much further away from our goal than we’d previously thought, with 21% female identifying senior leaders at Wise. This lack of parity in our leadership isn’t reflected across the wider team, which is made up of roughly 50 / 50 female to male identifying Wisers.

Some teams are doing better than others. Wise’s Legal, Banking / Expansions, Risk & Compliance, People, and Operations teams have already achieved parity. That means these teams have equal numbers of male and female identifying senior leaders, or that they are skewed in favour of women.

The crucial areas for improvement are in our Engineering, Finance and Product teams, which are all balanced towards male senior leadership. Wise has a strong commitment from the leaders of these teams to better understand why we don’t have more female senior leaders in these sectors of the business, and to create an environment in which female senior leaders can thrive.

We have seen real strides forward at board level. In September 2020, 100% of our board identified as men. We committed to adding two female board members, and in March 2021 we were delighted to welcome Clare Gilmartin, former CEO of the trainline, and Hooi Ling Tan, CEO and co-founder of Grab. In addition to this, we also recently announced the new addition of Terri Duhon, who has held a number of non-executive board positions including that at Morgan Stanley.

As well as bringing much valued international scale up experience, we have increased gender diversity at board level to over a third (37.5%).

We’ve also increased the engagement of our WiseWomen community, a group run by Wisers which is open to cis and trans women, non-binary, and gender non-conforming (GNC) people. We’ve hosted external speakers, and created a space for all women at Wise to discuss their experiences openly. By learning more, and encouraging conversation, we’re seeking to deliver more well-informed actions.

Two team members working outside

What comes next?

We’ve made progress in some areas, but there’s a long way to go. We’ve identified the following priorities in making real change happen, faster:

  1. Data collection – continuing our Wise self-ID project, which will give us a more accurate, non-binary data set, to help us better understand the gender balance of our times, as well as real data on other characteristics such as race and sexual orientation.
  2. Training – with an expert Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team of two now in place, we will continue to work closely with senior leaders across all teams, but particularly Finance, Engineering and Product. With input from Wisers, we’ll identify areas for improvement and provide training in creating fertile ground for senior leaders to grow from within.
  3. Headhunting and growing senior leaders – we know that strong female role models are vital to creating an environment that women feel safe, supported and at home in. We commit to headhunting (and growing) folks into leadership roles in Engineering, so that 20% of all new lead hires identify as women.

With a greater understanding of the Wise team now in place, we’re retaining our goal to have 40% women in leadership across Wise. Despite our best efforts, the fixes will take longer than we’d anticipated.

There’s a lot of work to do for Wise to represent the world around us, and that goes beyond gender to the whole spectrum of diversity. Our mission is all about taking faster, cheaper, more convenient cross-border money to everyone who needs it, and we won’t be successful if our team doesn’t reflect our diverse customer base. We’re determined to get there, and will continue to update you, our customers and owners, along the way.

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