Wise’s commitment to improving gender diversity

Isabel Naidoo

Wise’s commitment to improving gender diversity

At Wise, our mission is money without borders. In order to build the future of global money, we need a team that’s as diverse as the customers we’re working for.

Transparency is deeply important to us, so being clear about the challenges we face and how we’re working to overcome them is key to making sure we achieve our goals. 

This report will cover updates on the work we’re doing at Wise to achieve better gender diversity, our reporting on the Gender Pay Gap, and our commitments to the Women in Finance Charter.

We increased representation of women at Wise:

Overall our representation of women at Wise is 51%, and in our Lead population 47% are women. Our middle leadership levels are 41% women. Therefore our focus has been on increasing our representation of women in our most Senior levels (Level 8+, Director and above) which is currently at 26%. Our aspirational goal is to reach 40% by 2025. 

We are really pleased to have 40% women in our executive leadership team and our Board is currently 38% women, demonstrating the progress we have made.  

Across the majority of our teams we are at least 40% women globally: 

Across the majority of our Senior Leadership teams, we have reached, or exceeded our 40% Senior Leadership goal: 

The teams which are currently below our 40% Senior Leadership goal have set specific OKRs related to improving our representation of women across hiring, retention and career development opportunities. This includes initiatives to mitigate any biases in our processes, more deliberate outreach to women-focused diversity recruitment organisations and improving equal opportunities in our decision making.

Our focus for 2023 will be having a more deliberate approach across teams to ensure more consistency, sustainability and scalability in our actions, focusing on developing our internal diverse pipeline of leaders and broadening our attraction and hiring strategies.

We’ve increased our investment in inclusion

We are focused on developing a diverse early careers pipeline, particularly in engineering and tech roles, where we know we can make a difference to increasing access, aspiration and inspiration for those from underrepresented backgrounds.

We run our Wise Women Code program each year to help develop and accelerate women, non-binary and trans women’s path into technology. We welcome people to our offices for three days of knowledge sharing, side-by-side coding sessions, and networking, to provide a glimpse into the fintech industry. 

We encourage applications from 1st year students, those having recently switched careers, or those who are getting back into the workforce after leave, and we seek to hire as many potential participants as possible. Since our last 2022 cohort, from 20 participants, 5 applied to work for Wise, and 2 were hired.

Creating safe spaces, networking opportunities and thought leadership is key to driving our inclusive culture forwards. We have 10 Global Communities (Employee Resource Groups) to foster a diverse and inclusive workplace, including; Queerwise (LGBTQIA+), Black Wisers Network, and WiseWomen to name a few. We also profile a diverse range of senior Wisers (employees) from these communities, such as our annual Open Letters during Pride month.

In addition, our Women in Engineering Community and WiseWomen Community, which are open to women, trans women, non-binary Wisers and their allies, hold regular speaker events to support career growth, networking opportunities and skills sessions for their participants. 

We have also evolved our hybrid working model. We know that teams and individuals all have different needs depending on what they need to deliver, as well as their personal circumstances. Rather than focusing solely on the number of days our Wisers work in the office or at home, we’re focused on using the most appropriate place for a given activity and for specific roles. We also offer flexibility for teams to set their own guidelines and for individuals to set their own schedule within them.

We introduced new global minimums for leave at Wise

Over the last few years, it’s become clear that people want real benefits to enhance their work-life balance. We introduced a global minimum of 18 fully paid weeks of parental leave for birth or adoption, if a person has been at Wise for 1+ year at the due date or adoption date. This applies regardless of location, gender, or their partner’s parental leave policies. 

Tackling Wise’s gender pay gap

On 5th April 2022, Wise had 648 people working in its London office. 36% of the London team were women, 64% were men. To calculate this data, we used the legal and binary form of gender for team members when they joined the business. In the near future, we’re planning to report on this in a more inclusive way now that we have the option for employees to list their gender identity.

Today, Wise’s pay gap looks like this:

5 April 2022

Women Men Pay Gap
Mean hourly pay £34.77 £41.45 16.11%
Median hourly pay £32.58 £40.24 19.05%

* Data for 2021 is taken as of April 2021 payroll, on the 5th April 2021

And in order to understand how things have changed since last year, we’ve also included our 2021 numbers.

5 April 2021

Women Men Pay Gap
Mean hourly pay £32.73 £40.91 20%
Median hourly pay £31.62 £39.29 19.52%

* Data for 2021 is taken as of April 2021 payroll, on the 5th April 2021

Our mean hourly pay gap has decreased by 3.9 percentage points, and our median hourly pay gap has reduced by almost 0.5 percentage points. While we’re pleased to see the gap narrowing, we will be working harder on reducing this further.

Are bonuses included in the pay gap?

Stock is offered as a key part of our compensation package. It's a long term incentive and one of the ways employees  benefit from the growth in value of our business. That means all our employees have a share in our mission and the responsibility to make our business a success. 

The amount of stock allocated is benchmarked by role and experience level, and like our salary ranges, our stock levels are shared openly with employees. However, by nature of these awards, those who have been with the business for longer could have a higher value of stock than newer joiners based on an increase in value over time.

For the Gender Pay Gap calculations, we are required to use the value of equity based on when the tax liability arises for the employee. For stock options (NSOs) which Wise offered between 2011 & 2022, this is when options are exercised. For RSUs, which we have issued since April 2022, it’s when they vest. 

The table below provides the values of the NSOs that were exercised in the reporting period, but it is important to highlight that it’s an employees' own choice to exercise their stock, when, and at what price. 

5 April 2022

Women Men Bonus Gap
Mean bonus £92,136 £237,499 61.21%
Median bonus £29,268 £11,810 -147.82%

* Data for 2022 is taken as of April 2022 payroll, on the 5th April 2022

You can see also see how this compares to last year:

5 April 2021

Women Men Bonus Gap
Mean bonus £19,111 £37,998 49.71%
Median bonus £9,917 £6,843 -44.93%

* Data for 2021 is taken as of April 2021 payroll, on the 5th April 2021

Other benefits offered at Wise which class as bonuses under Gender Pay Gap reporting are: refer a friend to work at Wise (approximately £1200), a £1000 gift alongside our six week paid sabbatical for employees who serve four years with the firm, and relocation allowances.

What does the gender pay split look like at Wise?

We split everyone in the London office into four equal quartiles from the lowest to the highest paid. This year, we’ve increased women in the top quartile by 8 percentage points.

While the number of women in the upper middle and lower middle remain relatively unchanged, we can see a 5 percentage point rise in the number of women in the lower quartile too. This uptick has been supported by the work of early careers, and our new apprentice programmes, with our WiseStart intern and graduate program securing at least a 50/50 gender split for each cohort.

Women Men Women Men
Top 26% 74% 18% 82%
Upper middle 20% 80% 20% 80%
Lower middle 35% 65% 36% 64%
Lower 53% 47% 48% 52%

Why do we have a pay gap?

Wise has over 4,000 people across seventeen global offices, and since we reported in 2021 our London team has expanded to almost 900 people.

We are acutely aware that a significant proportion of our highest paying roles in the UK still sit within our Engineering, Product and Tech teams which is driving the gap at the Senior level. Hence our goals are focused on increasing the number of Senior women across all functions where we are below 40% representation (Level 8+) and especially in Senior tech-related roles. The 3 main levers we have to accelerate the pace of change are: hiring, retention and career development.  

How are we tackling this?

We’re committed to reducing Wise’s gender pay gap. Here are a few example initiatives that we’re continuing to deliver in 2023:

1. Widening the funnel for tech-related candidates to find Wise

  • Expanding our current sourcing strategy for hiring women, and those from underrepresented groups, particularly in tech-related roles using our partnerships with recruitment organisations, agencies and diverse referral drives 

  • Sharing our job vacancies more widely across different talent pools and diverse networks

2. Enhancing our inclusive recruitment process to mitigate biases

  • Enhancing our inclusive job description templates to help reduce bias in the language and criteria of our roles 

  • Further developing our ‘values-based interview training’ with added inclusive hiring principles for all hiring managers and embedding bias mitigation techniques when assessing candidates at each stage

  • Using data analytics to identify any barriers for women, and those from underrepresented groups, and addressing any possible adverse impacts

3. Developing our internal leadership pipeline, particularly the diversity of our future leaders

  • Ensuring representation of women, and those from other underrepresented groups, feature in our succession planning processes and have access to internal mobility opportunities

  • Ensuring representation of women, and those from underrepresented groups, in our Leads training programmes

  • Developing our DEI learning curriculum so Leads and Wisers alike can learn and develop their competencies in enhancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace 

You can read more about these in the next section…

Wise and the Women in Finance Charter

In September 2020 we signed up to HM Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter, pledging 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.

We committed that by the end of 2022, 40% of senior leaders within Wise would be women. We also committed to increase the diversity of the Wise board by appointing women board members.

We defined senior leadership and senior leaders in this instance as the people on Wise’s Leadership team, plus the heads of teams across our global workforce, who directly report into this group. Today, that’s 77 folks from across our 4,000 Wisers, spanning 17 global offices.

Last year we reported 21.33% women in senior leadership roles, which was just over half way towards the 40% goal we set. We have made progress towards this, increasing our percentage of women in senior leadership roles to 28.57%, a 7 percentage point increase on last year. However, we need to be more intentional to accelerate our efforts to achieve the 40% goal outlined in the charter.

As per our plans outlined last year, we focused on three main ways to help increase the representation of women in senior leadership at Wise.

Headhunting and growing senior leaders:

We are pleased to have met our 40% female representation goal at our Senior Leadership Team (Executive Committee) level. This included promoting Jessica Winter, into our General Counsel, as well as hiring Isabel Naidoo as our Chief People Officer. Our focus is now on building the pipeline of women leaders.

Improving our data collection process:

Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) data collection and reporting has significantly evolved.This year we achieved an 80% disclosure rate for our Wise self-ID project (employees disclosing self-identified demographic data) meaning we can now be much more targeted with our approach to address  gaps, barriers or challenges we see across the whole employee lifecycle.

Training our Wisers on safety and inclusion:

We’ve been much more deliberate with our training program. We’ve focused on improving our inclusive culture, specifically in supporting women and other underrepresented groups. We held a dedicated DEI training session with the senior leadership team, followed by mandatory training for all employees, to set everyone up with increased awareness and guidance on DEI and harassment prevention. 

We’ve reviewed and updated our global grievances process and introduced a simplified and accessible way to raise and address complaints regarding harassment, bullying, conflict and other sensitive situations, including gender-based issues.

What next:

Since last year, we’ve developed our data reporting and analytics capability to help us understand where we need to focus next.

Working closely with our Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, each department has set their own goals and action plans for increasing women representation. This means they’re able to tailor their approaches for their specific challenges and gaps, and build measurable action plans based on their contexts.

So far, these plans have mostly focused on hiring, but the whole employee lifecycle will be considered in future OKRs for each team, so we can build and sustain systemic impact. 

While we’ve seen improvements this year, we’ve also been closely analysing how we can improve, and with that we’re retaining our goal to have 40% women in Senior leadership across Wise. 

At Wise we’re proud to be an inclusive and mission-driven employer. To cater to a diverse workforce, we offer a range of benefits and policies for different people and circumstances.

However, our data shows we still have work to do to achieve our commitments to the Women in Finance charter, and to improve our Gender Pay Gap.

We know that better diversity means stronger, more experienced teams, as well as a more relevant product for our customers. We’re committed to improving our position, and believe that through our long-term recruitment plans, and continued investment into DEI at Wise, we can improve our gender diversity in these areas.


What is the gender pay gap?
The gender pay gap is the difference in average hourly earnings between men and women working within the same organisation. It shows us how women and men are being paid across teams and helps us understand the representation of women in senior roles, and in the highest paid areas of the business such as Product and Engineering.

Companies with more than 250 employees in the UK have to report their Gender Pay Gap figures annually on the 5 April, as a snapshot of the previous year’s data.

How is the gender pay gap different from equal pay?
The 1970 Equal Pay Act made it illegal to pay people doing the same job differently based on gender, a ruling which has since expanded to cover other protected characteristics. Wise is fully compliant with the Equal Pay Act. The gender pay gap, however, is a broader overview of the salaries and benefits earned by men and women within Wise, regardless of their role or seniority.

What sort of stock does Wise offer employees?
Up until 2022, Wise typically granted Non-qualified stock options (NSOs) to its employees. In the UK, Wise originally offered employees share options via the EMI or CSOP schemes, which are employee tax advantage schemes designed for smaller companies.

Since April 2022, all new stock grants at Wise are offered as Restricted Stock Units (RSUs). 

RSUs and NSOs are part of a company's bonus structure as defined by the UK Government, so any stock options sold from this scheme are included in the bonus numbers below. Options sold by people holding EMI and CSOP options are not included.

What are NSOs?
NSOs are Non-Qualified stock options.They are a type of employee stock option where you pay ordinary income tax on the difference between the grant price and the price at which you exercise.

What is the EMI?
The Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI) is a tax-advantaged share option scheme designed for smaller companies. The EMI is a share option scheme that enables companies to attract and retain key staff by rewarding them with equity participation in the business.

What is a CSOP?
The CSOP is a tax qualified discretionary option plan under which a company may grant options to any employee to acquire shares at an exercise price which must be no less than the market value of the shares on the grant date.

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