By Paulette Rowe
Paysafe, Integrated and Ecommerce Solutions
Women around the world face an influx of obstacles in order to launch and sustain a career in any field. This notion holds especially true in the payments industry, where certain prejudices and unconscious biases permeate across many segments of our work.
Despite large amounts of progress the industry, and society at large, have made in recent years, work still needs to be done to make the workforce an inherently equitable and inclusive space where all women can thrive and grow in equal measure to their male counterparts.
For the payments industry to achieve true equality, it's time to address historically harmful attitudes that are often overlooked and consider what employees at all levels need to succeed.
Companies tout the progress they've made toward attaining gender equity, or representation; however, a concerning lack of women in senior-level roles across the industry persists. A 2021 report by the Fintech Diversity Radar found that women make up only 11 percent of all board members globally. In addition, just 5.6 percent of all fintech CEOs are women, and less than 4 percent of women hold the C-level roles of chief innovation or technology officer.
While it's important to call out women's lack of representation in many professional roles, it's just as crucial to address the subtle biases that exist, identifying what they are and providing initiatives to implement at the source. This is especially important in traditionally male-skewed functions, like finance and technology, along with key leadership roles, where significant gender gaps are common.
One of the most accessible ways to break down the gender barrier in payments is to raise awareness of where disparities exist. This includes addressing "affinity bias," or hiring/promoting people who are like ourselves in appearance, beliefs and background, as well as "benevolence bias," or limiting an individual's autonomy by making decisions for them, often intended to help, but done without consulting the individual in question.
One example of bias involves motherhood, where a conscious decision influenced by unconscious assumptions could result in a working mother receiving less encouragement and support to get to the next level in her career compared to a male colleague.
To reduce the risk of unconscious bias, like affinity or benevolence biases, we need to recognize it exists and pursue proactive strategies to challenge the assumptions behind them. An obvious place to start is to look at how your company structures its recruitment framework and the processes for selecting new talent. Flawed hiring systems and biases can hamper the entire talent funnel.
It's important to consider all aspects of the talent management process including not only how to attract, develop, promote and retain female talent, but also how to bring line managers along on the journey.
Initiatives rooted in supporting diversity, equity and inclusion and celebrations, like International Women's Day, do a great job of shining a spotlight on and drawing attention to the biases and specific challenges women in the payments industry experience today. While these are helpful, companies across the industry need to display their support and champion their female employees more than just once a year.
Recent research from the American Association of University Women shows the clear and present impacts of the gender pay gap, also touching on how career progression for women in the workforce is stunted by a number of factors, especially within high-earning industries, like payments.
These ideas give more weight to topics in the gender equity conversation, like the gender entitlement gap, or the fact that many women feel less entitled to ask for pay raises, promotions, professional support, and the ability to set healthy boundaries between work and home life, regardless of how well they are performing in their role.
Understanding that an entitlement gap exists is the first step. Closing the gap is about sharing stories and being honest enough to call out potential biases, including institutional policies and informal practices that perpetuate pay disparities and career outcomes for women. Employees also need to listen to the stories their colleagues share, establish themselves as allies in support of change and understand that everyone plays a crucial role, including at the executive level.
Enduring change doesn't happen in a day, but by working together we can start to move to a place in society where eliminating gender disparities becomes inherent and is no longer a marker of progressive policy—it's simply the norm, not an exception.
Payments is an incredibly exciting industry that employs and attracts a growing list of amazing female talent and leaders, but we're not near the home stretch. By coming together to recognize and identify the lack of representation, we can put more energy behind breaking through the barriers and creating an environment for women to thrive and bring the industry to new heights.
Paulette Rowe has led Paysafe's Integrated and Ecommerce Solutions (IES) division as its chief executive officer since January 2020. She has over 20 years' experience in the payments and financial services industries and has served in leadership roles at Facebook, Barclaycard, Royal Bank of Scotland and GE Capital. Connect with her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/paulette-rowe-9832a223/.
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