The news last week that Figure, a lending startup based on blockchain technology, had raised $103 million with a unicorn valuation of $1.2 billion, wasn’t just proof that the blockchain industry is still very much alive and well. It also cemented the comeback story of Mike Cagney, who co-founded Figure after resigning as the CEO of SoFi a little more than two years ago after sexual harassment allegations against him and the fintech company.
The blockchain and cryptocurrency industry has a bit of a reputation, in its short history, for insensitivity to women, at best, and at worst, a tolerance for misconduct. Even at the height of the Bitcoin bubble in 2017, the proportion of female cryptocurrency investors was estimated to be as little as 4%. Afterparties for major U.S. crypto conferences have been held at burlesque and strip clubs. At blockchain events, women have reported being groped while onlookers said nothing, and even unwittingly drugged. You get the picture.
At the same time, a certain segment of the crypto community—perhaps the same segment that despises all manner of government oversight and regulation—seems uninterested if not opposed to advancing gender diversity in the industry. Take, for example, the time I tweeted about Coinbase’s hire of a second top female executive last year. Of the 70 odd people who replied, the bulk of them seemed to share the views of @AmkoMehmi, who tweeted back, “Who gives a F about gender?”
That’s all to say that if ever there were an industry poised to embrace Cagney despite his mistakes, it would be this one—though Cagney and his backers, for their part, say they actually do give a F about creating a workplace where women feel welcome.
“At SoFi is it was a very much performance-oriented culture, and unfortunately it was a performance-at-all-costs culture, and I in particular tolerated some bad behavior,” Cagney tells Fortune. “At Figure, we put culture first, which was never something we’d done at the previous company.” For example, Cagney’s other four co-founders at Figure are all women (including his wife, June Ou), as well as about half of the company’s senior executives, though that wasn’t necessarily intentional, he adds. “It’s not out of any particular objective or trying to hit a ratio—it was just trying to hire the best people,” says Cagney.
Figure itself specializes in home equity lines of credit and recently expanded into mortgage and student loan refi
In November, Massachusetts and Washington became the latest states to add a nonbinary option for driver’s licenses. They join a dozen others that have amended licenses to include a third gender option, most frequently denoted with an ‘X,’ joining the ‘M’ and ‘F’ traditionally found on licenses throughout the U.S.
Many states are poised to follow suit, with states like Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania planning to implement changes in the coming years, and a number of others publicly discussing options to do so.
But a majority of states have not indicated any intention to begin offering a third gender option. And it’s not just about politics. One reason that states may be reluctant to make such a bureaucratic change: It’s expensive.
California implemented legislation effective January 1 of this year that added a nonbinary gender option to driver’s licenses and identification cards.
Jaime Garza, a representative from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, told Fortune that the DMV estimates that the entire process of adding a third gender option took approximately 5,000 hours.
But it’s not just man hours—the DMV estimates $880,000 in one-time costs and $45,000 in ongoing technology costs related to the new gender option. In Maryland, the estimated administrative cost for the Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) to make the change was $220,500, Ashley Millner, a representative from the DOT, told Fortune.
“The cost is related to programming changes and updates to the Driver’s License System, mainframe, and online applications,” Millner said. Modifications to the Driver’s License System included changes to the MDOT MVA’s e-Store and Kiosk, as well as its application info, user interface, system rules, database tables, and stored procedures, according to Millner.
Pennsylvania currently has a manual override option available, but has not yet formally rolled out a third gender option for those applying for driver’s licenses or ID cards. The designation will officially be available as of January 2020. But the state has already incurred costs for initiating the change: $120,788, according to Alexis Campbell, a press secretary from the Department of Transportation.
This figure will cover the system and processes modifications needed to “offer a systematic way gender-neutral designation option to our customers,” Campbell says. Thes