DIFC FinTech Hive rolls out AccelerateHer programme to back women in finance sector

Women are currently underrepresented in senior roles across the global finance industry

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Dubai International Financial Centre’s FinTech Hive, the region's first and largest financial technology accelerator, has begun the second edition of its career mentorship programme aimed at empowering women in financial services.

The female-focused accelerator programme, dubbed AccelerateHer, will equip young female executives with the tools and experience to broaden their knowledge and play a more active role in shaping the future of the finance industry, the DIFC said in a statement on Saturday.

"AccelerateHer allows young and ambitious women to build their careers in financial services and play a more influential role in driving the future of the industry," Raja Al Mazrouei, executive vice president of DIFC FinTech Hive, said.

Women are currently under-represented in senior roles across the global finance industry. Women made up just 20 per cent of executive committees and 23 per cent of boards in major financial firms globally in 2019, according to a report by consultancy Oliver Wyman. Gender diversity metrics are becoming increasingly important to investors who are keeping an eye on companies' environmental, social and governance (ESG) impact.

The DIFC Authority said it has a "strong representation" of women on its management team, according to the statement. More than 60 per cent of DIFC Authority staff and 33 per cent of those working in the financial free zone are female.

The accelerator programme offers 14 participants one-on-one mentorship from executives, while cohorts will participate in workshops and other activities to build their network, skills and knowledge.

The DIFC FinTech Hive collaborated with Standard Chartered Bank on AccelerateHer.

"This programme is an excellent platform for distinguished women in the UAE’s financial services to gain a multitude of insights on the working world and, more importantly, build their networks, skills and knowledge," Rola Abu Manneh, chief executive of Standard Chartered Bank UAE, said.

Participants in the programme will shadow parts of the DIFC FinTech Accelerator Programme and attend 20 workshops provided by partners in areas such as legal, tech, HR, compliance and marketing, among others.

The second edition of AccelerateHer started on August 24 and ends on November 30.

Earlier this month, Dubai rolled out the "She Leads" programme, an incubator and accelerator intended to help develop UAE start-ups that are led by women.

Gender diversity and inclusion is even more crucial during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The crisis has had a “disproportionate” effect on women and threatens to set back their economic empowerment and widen the gender gaps that persist, the International Monetary Fund said in July. The Washington lender urged policymakers to adopt measures that would limit the pandemic’s “scarring effects” on women and remove legal barriers to their empowerment.