Why half of my crypto-exchange's top team are women

"We reached out to as many people from different genders, age groups, races, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds as possible"
Kristjan Kangro
Kristjan Kangro, the founder of Change, a crypto exchange

As the business case for delivering better diversity on the blockchain continues to mount, Kristjan Kangro, CEO and founder of Change, talks about how he learned the hard way why it’s such a key ingredient for business success.

For years now, the importance of diversity and inclusion has been talked about not only as morally right but also as a way for businesses to improve performance. Research by Deloitte shows organisations with inclusive cultures are six times more innovative and agile and eight times as likely to achieve better business results than those with less diversity.

Surprisingly then, it’s still an area that many businesses need to do much more to embrace. This is especially true of the crypto space. We all know the stereotype: the young, male computer genius kid. Unfortunately, this is still not too far from the truth. Twice as many men as women invest in crypto.2 86% of those involved in the Bitcoin community are men3 and a recent study4 suggests that 62% of crypto investors are white and 67% are men. 

Though the industry continues to do good work in tackling this problem, we must act quicker. Failure to ensure everyone is represented as both the leaders of the crypto movement and the consumers of it, could present all kinds of problems for its future.

This is something I know only too well. It takes me back to 2013 when I founded my first technology company during my time at university in the Netherlands. I hired five of my friends. Although it started well, I quickly learnt that – being of similar ages and backgrounds – we all thought in very much the same way and that to build something truly innovative we needed more diverse opinions and ideas.  Needless to say, the company wasn't as successful as I hoped and we quickly entered an exit strategy.

The main lesson I learnt in this is that I can only be as good as the team around me. To be a successful entrepreneur I need people beside me who are not only as passionate as I am but I also need to have different skills and experiences.

Change was founded with that in mind. From the very start, diversity was king. It wasn’t just about finding people with the right skills or experiences but ensuring we reached out to as many people from different genders, age groups, races, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds as possible. For us, it really is a case of the more - and the more different - the merrier.

The result is that almost half of the C-level leaders at Change are women and our team of almost 100 has 24 nationalities. 

The wide viewpoints, experiences and knowledge this brings adds a lot of value to our company. Bringing together people who see the same thing in different ways helps us continue to come up with fresh, novel ideas and open the doors to innovation. It also allows us to make better decisions through the ability to come up with more solutions. What’s been a huge plus for us too is that it has helped create a super engaged, passionate and all-round awesome team where everyone feels included and important. I believe it is this diversity that continues to make us different from the rest of the market and help us grow so quickly.

Looking to the future of crypto, it's my hope that the rest of the industry steps up to the diversity mark. After all, the real power behind the ongoing crypto movement lies in the potential to decentralise the financial room and offer borderless investment possibilities for all. For the first time, it means that all people, regardless of their social standing, location or  ‘bankability’ have the opportunity to create wealth. How ironic would it be if this shift remains in the arms of the traditional white and male dominated field?

Rather, as an industry, we must take this opportunity to break down barriers of all kinds. It would be great to see more funding placed among female founders and minority groups to help raise the innovation stakes higher. Also, to see more underrepresented groups in our companies and progressing to more senior positions. Not to mention putting an end to the common perception that crypto investing is a man’s game and opening it up to everyone.

Written by
Kristjan Kangro