The bro culture in UK fintechs
Both tech and finance are industries that have long suffered from a stigma of being male-centric and dominated by ‘bro culture’. Fintech has the unfortunate distinction of having the reputations of both its parent industries to overcome. While companies often take strides to combat both finance bros and tech bros, there are some that fail to escape from such a reputation. One company in the midst of a struggle to do so is Thought Machine, a banking software development company based in London.
Contemporary online reviews of Thought Machine by current employees are littered with complaints about what is apparently a masculine culture. The issue seems to have been going on for some time: we spoke to one female employee who left a few years ago and who said that when she worked there it was replete with "tech bros" and that “couldn’t help feeling looked down upon.” At that time, she said there was a drinking culture, compounded by working late and a lack of remote work.
“One male engineer told a female engineer to not wear something because it was “distracting,” she claims. She no longer works in fintech and says that after her time at Thought Machine she wanted, "to avoid fintech companies” altogether.
That was three years ago, and things may have changed. These days, Thought Machine tells us that it has an "award winning culture" and an average review on Glassdoor is 4.3 stars. One recent review seems to suggest a definite improvement: "As a female, I feel valued and heard,” says one employee.
Thought Machine isn't the only fintech to have had teething problems. N26, the Berlin-based fintech suffered an exodus of employees last year due to what was said at the time to have been a culture of long hours, unfair promotions and favoritsm. This time last year, Coinbase was struck by accusations that its working conditions were poor; the crypto exchange has subsequently moved to make amend with things like "recharge weeks."
At Thought Machine, some of the recent reviews suggest the lack of remote working is the real problem, with the CEO's alleged preference for in-office work making life hard for working mothers.
In its full comment to us, Thought Machine said:
“We are always concerned when we hear of unwelcoming experiences at Thought Machine. This is not the culture we have built within the organisation – an award-winning company culture focused on providing the best possible working environment for its 500+ employees worldwide.
We have dedicated support networks for employees of all backgrounds to build community within the organisation and executive-sponsored channels for our people to discuss any issues that might arise.
We take pride that the overwhelming majority of our people report an incredibly welcoming and supportive environment – as demonstrated by our Glassdoor reviews and internal feedback mechanisms.”
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