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Paysafe On Breaking The Gender Bias In The Payments Industry

Any woman who has worked hard to establish a career within the payments industry understands the challenges that continue to endure despite the industry’s progress in building more equitable and inclusive workplaces. Some attitudes and assumptions are so ingrained in society that we don’t even know they’re there, allowing gender bias to persist and overshadow decades of advancement.

Posted: 5th May 2022 by Finance Monthly
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It’s not hard to imagine why equal access to opportunity is still a major concern for women across the industry. Consider the boardrooms and executive leadership teams of major companies, and ask yourself: Who is often seen seated at the table?

Bridging the gender divide in 2022

The reality is that the number of women in the most senior roles has only marginally improved. To put this into perspective, a 2021 report by the Fintech Diversity Radar, commissioned by London-based data and analytics company Findable, revealed that women make up only 11% of all board members globally. Added to this, just 5.6% of all fintech CEOs are women, and less than 4% of women hold the C-level roles of chief innovation or technology officer. 

So, what practical steps can our industry take to break the bias in 2022 and drive greater change? First, it’s important to explore and address the subtle biases that exist, identifying where and what they are. This is especially important in traditionally male-skewed functions, such as Risk, Technology, and Finance as well as key leadership roles, where significant gender gaps are common. 

Across the industry, work is being done to raise awareness of where disparities exist. This includes addressing what is termed ‘affinity bias’, hiring or promoting people who are more like ourselves in appearance, beliefs and background, as well as ‘benevolence bias’, limiting an individual’s autonomy by presuming what’s best for them, even if it’s done in an effort to be kind. 

An example of this might be a conscious decision made by unconscious assumptions about motherhood which 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, we need to recognise it exists and pursue proactive strategies to challenge the assumptions behind them. An obvious place to start is to look at how we’re structuring our recruitment framework and the processes for selecting new talent. Hiring systems are flawed and biases can pose an issue across the entire talent funnel. It’s important to consider all aspects of the talent management process and not only how to attract, develop, promote and retain female talent but also how to bring line managers along on the journey. 

Gender equity in the time of COVID-19

While the flexibility to work from home has been a great benefit to most, mandatory lockdown orders issued to mitigate the spread of the pandemic have also exacerbated deeply ingrained gender inequality as responsibilities for family well-being amid a global health crisis disproportionately fell upon women. Suddenly, many women and caregivers were catapulted into a scenario where they were forced to juggle the demands of their work alongside the additional tasks of caring for their children during school and nursery closures.

Now, with the restrictions of COVID-19 lifting, it is important we ensure that the pandemic does not leave behind a long-term negative legacy on the career trajectory of working women. As companies look to implement hybrid working models, they must also invest in opportunities for those who may find it less convenient to be in the office to ensure all employees remain visible.

Making time spent in the office more meaningful is key. We need to create more purposeful in-person opportunities that allow for those experiences that are less effective through on-screen interactions. These include networking events, informal coffee-break mentoring, and developing support networks among colleagues with similar challenges

Closing the entitlement gap

Overall, companies need to think openly about how they’re ushering in and achieving a balance between flexibility and visibility while establishing clear pathways for career advancement that are equal to their male counterparts. 

Initiatives rooted in supporting diversity, equity and inclusion and celebrations such as International Women’s Day do a great job of shining a spotlight on not only the wins but also drawing attention to the biases and specific challenges that women in the payments industry still experience today. 

The latest research from London-based women’s empowerment organisation The Female Lead indicates that the gender entitlement gap often stymies career progression among women in the workforce, particularly within the payments industry. The report draws attention to 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 roles. 

Understanding that there is an entitlement gap is the first step. Closing the gap is about sharing stories and being bold enough to call out potential biases that this can create, including institutional policies and informal practices that perpetuate pay disparities and career outcomes for women. 

There is no overnight fix, but we can all advocate for more fundamental, enduring change. Payments is an incredibly exciting industry that continues to employ and attract a growing list of amazing female talent and leaders, but we have a long way to go. By coming together to recognise and talk about the reasons for the lack of representation, we can put more energy behind breaking through some of the barriers and creating an environment for women to thrive and transform the industry.

About the author: Paulette Rowe has led Paysafe’s Ecommerce & Integrated Solutions IES) division as its chief executive officer since January 2020. She has over 20 years of experience in the payments and financial services industries, and her leadership includes Facebook, Barclaycard, and Royal Bank of Scotland. 

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