By Dee and Emily Karawadra
We've been excited to delve into the topic of fathers and daughters working in payments. We have three daughters. One of them, Morgan, has already joined Impact PaySystem. It took some convincing from us before she agreed to come aboard.
Morgan has the drive and work ethic to succeed in any industry; however, she started helping in our back-office when she was 12. She continued to work with us through high school and during summer vacations from college. It made sense for her to join our industry – until we saw the gender gap in salaries, which gave us pause. In this article, Dee endeavors to shed light on this topic.
Wnet (a professional organization of women in payments) recently held its annual leadership summit in Atlanta, where the organization spotlighted a report that shines a light on women in business. A Wnet attendee had tweeted a picture of a slide from a presentation with this caption: "#Payments industry hires #externally man at 2x the rate of woman …"
The slide shows external hires by gender in payments at six different levels, along with the average of all other companies combined. The slide indicates that hiring of women in payments scored low at all levels. The largest gap was at the entry level, where companies in the payments industry scored eight percentage points lower than the combined average of all other companies in the study.
At a regional event, while introducing Morgan to some industry friends, I was surprised to find many father/daughter teams working in our industry. One friend, Steve Duniec, introduced me to his daughter Marcie. Steve helped me when I began my career in payments. Steve entered the industry in February 1991. During the first five years of his career, he built a large clientele. The majority of his business came from referrals from satisfied customers and referral partnerships.
In 1996, he signed on with then privately held CardService International to help its agents grow and provide a better experience for merchants. CSI was subsequently purchased by First Data Corp. At FDC, Steve moved through the ranks to manage agent and ISO sales for the East Coast, Canada and Puerto Rico. In 2013, he moved away from heavy travel and corporate life to return to helping merchants with their payment needs. He has carved out a niche helping ISOs and merchant level salespeople with difficult to place merchants.
Steve offered hope of cracking the glass ceiling in answering the following questions:
I have had a career that has turned out to be beyond my expectations. The paths I chose, and the earnings have been great. The best part, however, is the relationships with the many great people in this industry. When it came time to take my current venture to the next level, my daughter Marci was working in a less than satisfying position.
I wanted to find someone to run my operations whom I could trust and had the same spirit for great service as I do. Not just because she is our daughter but for several reasons, my wife and I both thought she would fit perfectly. I think it would be any person's dream to share the great success they've had in this industry with their family. Not just the financial success. I also knew my clients (agents and ISOs) would come to love her and she would feel the same. I like to surround myself with positive people who I like. I don't only love my daughter; I also like her a lot. (Both of my girls)
She has, of course, witnessed my success over the years and felt confident that I would teach her all of my skills and habits to become a success herself. Some of it she already had, but not related to this industry. We had a good discussion of what would be expected from each of us and how we would "work" as father and daughter, but it was a fairly short conversation. She was ready to put her notice in shortly after that. And she was very eager even before her two-week notice was up.
I think it is getting much better, but over the years I witnessed (and was part of) a lot of "boys clubs" that just simply didn't let women in. Leaders in many cases just didn't even consider women to be part of their team. That's unfortunate and small minded.
I've also seen the rise of great leaders such as Kim Fitzsimmons, who I had the pleasure of reporting directly to at one part of my career. I've always admired executives who recognized her and other women of her caliber. As far as hiring my daughter, gender of course wasn't even a consideration. The industry's executive ranks are still heavily dominated by men. We still have a long way to go, but I think boards are thinking about it more for sure.
I am very encouraged when I go to ETA and our regional shows. I see more and more women – and more in upper management roles. I'm very happy that Wnet has risen up within the payments space. I'm not sure many other industries have a similar organization dedicated to supporting women. And it was started by some of the most accomplished women in this industry.
None at all. At the time that I hired Marci, my other daughter, Talia, was very happy with her work/life situation. The only regret that I had for a little while was that I didn't also pull Talia in. But, as of February of this year, during another big growth spurt, four years after I brought Marci on, I also hired Talia. She and her sister are as close as ever and are a great team. The only regret I have is that I think they are conspiring against me to take this thing over eventually. I hear a lot of , "We've got this, Dad. Don't worry. Go play golf."
I want to thank Steve Duniec for taking the time to answer these questions. The disparities in treatment of the genders in the workplace is still not acceptable. Unless it is equal, it will never be acceptable. Changes must come from the top, and leaders must demand changes in their organizations.
Have we made progress in last 30+ years? Yes, but we have a long to go toward closing a very large pay gap. Equal opportunity and fairness in any workplace play an important role. Employees love these qualities in their workplace.
This is our first article on fathers and daughters in the industry. Wnet does a great job in helping to mentor women. Men can join Wnet as advocates; regional chapters help in networking locally. Check Wnet out at www.wnetonline.org.
Dee Karawadra is president and CEO of Impact PaySystem, and Emily Karawadra is the company's chief financial officer. Since 2001, Impact PaySystem has been a leading provider of payment processing technologies and services to merchants throughout the United States. Through alliances with payments industry leaders such as Chase Paymentech, First Data, Buypass, Sage and more, Impact PaySystem offers tailored solutions to meet the unique needs of each merchant. Dee and Emily will welcome your questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, respectively.
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