Sarah Friar, Square, at MoneyConf 2018

Square CFO, Sarah Friar, told an audience at MoneyConf in Dublin that gender diversity in the finance industry was no longer a “wait and see” problem.

She said that she was really “peeved” that only 26 of the Fortune 500 were led by women.

Just waiting and saying things will get better is not good enough, she stated. It’s time for companies in the fintech industry to start hiring processes that look directly for women or people of colour.

She said she’d been surprised when asking recruiters to find female candidates that they would come back and say there were none out there: “None? In the whole world?” You must push back, she said, and enforce the idea that you want to hire more diversely: “Just. Go. Get. Women.”

Friar also spent time opining that incumbent banks in the finance industry will struggle to innovate in the years to come.

“The finance part of fintech is a space that has not been very disrupted,” said Friar. Change is afoot, though, as and new companies will always get the benefit of modern systems and a cohesive build from the get-go. New companies, she added, are always willing to try and do new things.

New companies are always better at agility too. Sometimes, said Friar, just getting an NDA from a bank can take “forever”, which doesn’t bode well for their futures.

Square is always looking to “build, buy and partner”, and is thinking about branching out into the omnichannel space, with Friar said is something which will drive the company’s growth for the future.

The payments firm is looking at expansion in Canada, the UK, Japan and Australia. It also has its eyes on Brazil, Mexico and India. When asked by John Fraher of Bloomberg – also on stage – about China, Friar said the country was “a different beast” entirely. It looks like TenCent and AliPay will continue to dominate without Western competition, then.

by Alex Hamilton
Alex is Senior Reporter at IBS Intelligence, follow him on Twitter or contact him at: alexanderh@ibsintelligence.com
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