Georgina Whitmore Mar 8, 2022 7:13:07 AM

#BreaktheBias: Reflections on International Women's day from the women of SPG

To celebrate International Women's Day 2022, we asked the women of SPG to reflect on their experiences and careers to date to share what the day means to them and what we could all do to #breakthebias.

 

Sophie Condie, Operations Director, SPG

     Sophie Condie

    Operations Director, SPG

     What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

     "IWD resonates with me particularly as I know the sacrifices that women, in particular, make to be a women in business and some of the battles and stereotypes we face. I think it's wonderful to recognise that and all the amazing women in the workforce across the globe."

Why do you think diversity and inclusivity is so important for the modern workplace?

"The human race continues to evolve and as this happens the old stereotypes/ expectations/ judgements need to evolve with it. 
If I tap into ageism, for example, our life expectancy continues to get older therefor our ability and desire to work later in life does too. Every organisation needs to challenge the status quo when it comes to inclusivity and diversity, tap into different approaches, spend time learning about the modern world and how you can attract diversity into your workplace."

In your years of experience, what is the most positive change you have seen and what is the area where you think the most work remains to be done?

"Ohhh great question, my experience is limited to banking and fintechs, I think there have been some amazing initiatives across both the public and private sector to support and encourage women back into the workplace after they've had children which was and continues to be an area of focus. It's incredibly tricky for women to work after they have children, especially in senior positions, due to multiple reasons but the two I will call out are the maternal pull and the cost of childcare. The maternal pull is a tough one to alleviate, however a flexible and genuinely understanding workplace (like SPG) will reap the rewards and retain top female talent. 
The cost of childcare is a painful necessity so having useful, tax efficient benefits provided by your workplace goes a long way." 

What do you think is the one thing we can all do every day to help #BreaktheBias?

"Support one another, be respectful and professional in all interactions and remember that we are in this together."

Who is your hero/who do you look to for inspiration?

"I don't think I have a hero per say but I do have many influences in my life that I get lots of inspiration from, I like to surround myself with people I find inspirational both at work and at home, some examples to provide context:
My team - my direct reports and personnel within their teams, we have a mindset which is hire someone who will bring something you don't have to the table, sharing suggestions and ideas is awesome in an environment in which you have a diverse set of experiences and opinions to throw light and solutions into the mix.
My family - My children inspire me to be the best version of myself every day, my husband inspires me to challenge any doubts or issues I have, my sister inspires me to compete with my own PB's and my mum is the best sounding board and bearer of advice known to mankind 😉."

 

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     Naomi Durodola

    Head of Product, Paycast

     What does International Women’s Day mean to you?  

     "To me, IWD is about celebrating womanhood in all its             expressions and through all its phases. It’s about respecting a woman’s right to choose her path through life, regardless of what that choice is." 

What do you think is the one thing we can all do every day to help #BreaktheBias?  

"Women are not a monolith and it important that we embrace diversity within womanhood itself. Success looks different for every woman, and it is imperative that we are seen as enough, regardless. That we simply are, is value itself." 

Who is your hero/who do you look to for inspiration?  

"I admire people who are able to navigate their way through life with integrity and grace. I am unimpressed by accomplishments but deeply drawn to character." 

 

20210731_114921     Karen George

    Head of Technical Platform Management, SPG       

     What does International Women’s Day mean to you? 

     "A day to reflect on, be proud of and celebrate the many     contributions women are making. Learning more about how I can help enable further opportunities for others."

Why do you think diversity and inclusivity is so important for the modern workplace?

"Everyone should be enabled to grow and have the same opportunities without any hurdles or barriers being put in the way. A workplace that is representative of the wider population will understand their customers better and uncover so many new opportunities."

In your years of experience, what is the most positive change you have seen and what is the area where you think the most work remains to be done?

"The most positive changes I have seen is when people feel there is a safe environment to discuss openly without the fear of being judged. This can be challenging to create, and I believe we have a lot more to do around raising awareness and supporting everyone to be their authentic self."

What is your top piece of advice for aspiring women leaders?
"Be your authentic self at all times and believe in yourself."

 

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     Claire Van der Zant

    Customer Director, Paycast

     What does International Women’s Day mean to you? 

     "IWD is a reminder that we are still striving for better. That we’re not where we need to be yet. But that people are still united in creating a fairer, equal and just society. And that IWD is a part of the bigger movement to create inclusivity amongst diversity across the world."

Why do you think diversity and inclusivity is so important for the modern workplace? 

"I started my journey in the world of art. Where difference, uniqueness and individuality are not only celebrated, but strived for. To stand out, appeal to different minds and to tell meaningful stories. In a world where modern business has finally recognised the importance of customers, an approach that does anything less than strive for a diverse mindset in the workforce has missed the point. We’re all individuals. We all like different things. We all need different things. We all feel different things. Meeting customer needs simply can’t be found in teams that don’t embrace diversity. Let’s be more artistic about the workplace. Let’s paint a different picture." 

What do you think is the one thing we can all do every day to help #BreaktheBias? 

"We have to keep striving for more. Every day. This is a journey that has aspirations, but not a destination. We live in a constantly evolving world, so let’s keep moving forward with intent to continuously break bias and champion something better." 

 

Laura-Anne Smith, UI Engineer, SPG

     Laura-Anne Smith

     UI Engineer, SPG 

     What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
     "IWD is a time for me to appreciate the strength in all of the woman who have made it to where they knew they could, against all odds and every hurdle thrown their way. They fought for equality to help path the way for the generations to come."

Why do you think diversity and inclusivity is so important for the modern workplace?

"Different people have different thought processes and different solutions due to personal circumstances and life experiences. This is invaluable in the workplace and is key for every business."

In your years of experience, what is the most positive change you have seen and what is the area where you think the most work remains to be done?

"Seeing more and more women in tech is the best thing for me. When I was at university I was the only female in a class of 30 studying computing science. Now at SPG we have a 50/50% split in the front-end team which is huge. However, we still need to push more young girls to take these subject in school to help computing becoming a genderless subject."

What do you think is the one thing we can all do every day to help #BreaktheBias?

"Stop referring to things as "boys" and "girls" eg picking Wood work, Computing, Physics, Nursing - these subjects need to have their genders removed to allow more diversity as a whole. We need people to stop acting surprised if a female says they are in IT or if a male says they are in nursing as this adds to the sigma."

What is your top piece of advice for aspiring women leaders?

"Find a coping mechanism for your emotions. Our emotions are important but we need to find a professional way to channel them into actions to ensure we keep our audience engaged."

Who is your hero/who do you look to for inspiration?

My mum Maria Smith, she dominated a male dominated industry and has taught me to push for the stars even if it goes against the grain and how to handle myself in difficult situations. Supporting people from a young age to go into any field male/female dominated or not needs to be normalised. I have been very lucky to be raised by a very strong, intelligent, powerful woman and I strive to do the same for the younger generation."

 

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     Yinka Ogedengbe

    Product Analyst, Paycast  

      What does International Women’s Day mean to you? 

     "For me, it's a day to acknowledge and especially celebrate the achievements of women. It is a day to recognise and honour our contribution and a day to shine the light on existing gender biases that stifle women’s progression." 

Why do you think diversity and inclusivity is so important for the modern workplace? 

"Every business seeks to be innovative in solving real problems, presenting new opportunities and rising to the challenge of creating a successful profitable business that is benefiting society at large. For it to successfully do that, it needs to make sure it has different voices at the table bringing different perspectives. 
This is especially true when building a well-rounded product, you want to be widely used and well loved. 
I believe women bring a unique perspective to every table and failing to give them a seat at the table is short-changing not just the woman or the business, but the people that need that solution. 
Some of the greatest ideas haven’t come to life because a woman somewhere hasn’t been given the opportunity for her voice to be heard where it matters." 

In your years of experience, what is the most positive change you have seen and what is the area where you think the most work remains to be done? 

"As a working mum, the most positive change I have experienced to date has to be the embracing of flexible working by organisations. Cutting out my commute has afforded me time to be more present with my children. This has eased the guilt that’s usually attached with missing simple moments like school drop off and pickups. I am more positive as result, which means my mind is freed up to be more creative and perform better at my job. 

There’s still a lot of work to be done though. The school day for one is not designed to accommodate working parents. The (mental) pressure and all-round effort it takes to smoothly juggle conflicting hours of the school and workday, can cumulatively affect the parent and children negatively. Parents end up having to choose between a job/career they love and their family. It’s sad to say that many times, the family is picked at a great and immeasurable loss to the organisation. 

Having an MD and manager that recognise mothers as assets to an organisation and not an inconvenience to be tolerated has greatly impacted my confidence and contribution to my family, team and the organisation. I am able to give the best of myself that is needed to my family and to the organisation. 

Society needs more champions of motherhood."

 

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      Ellie Kim

      Managing Director, Paycast

      What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

     "One day for the whole world to celebrate women and reminder to all that more needs to be done for equality everywhere for women."

In your years of experience, what is the most positive change you have seen and what is the area where you think the most work remains to be done?

"Many more women in senior positions and genuine leaders – not like years ago, when women were expected to act/look like men. Women leaving for maternity leave still return with some disadvantages depending on the company – this needs to improve."

What is your top piece of advice for aspiring women leaders?

"Be authentic and leverage being a woman as an asset." 

 

Alysha Spencer-Pares headshot

     Alysha Spencer

     Head of Marketing, Paycast

     Why do you think diversity and inclusivity is so important for the modern workplace? 

"Not only is making sure that your team is from a diverse range of backgrounds a social responsibility for all of us to make sure everyone has equal opportunity to succeed, but in my view essential for business success. Getting a broader mix of perspectives more accurately reflects the marketplace and often inspires more innovative thinking, than the ‘group-think’ past of ‘pale, male and stale’ organisations, leading to more commercial success."

In your years of experience, what is the most positive change you have seen and what is the area where you think the most work remains to be done? 

"I think a lot of business have made significant improvements in their hiring policies to incorporate greater diversity and equal opportunities for both men and women as well as efforts to consciously address equality in the business, but we have yet to see this really reflect at senior levels of business. If over 50% of the UK population is female, why aren’t we seeing that reflected in senior management and boards? How can we break the ‘boys club’ mentality?"

What is your top piece of advice for aspiring women leaders?

"It would quite simply be to ask for what you want (and that applies to everyone – not just women). If it’s a promotion, a new opportunity, more flexibility in the workplace – whatever you’re looking for, ask for it. Lean in to promoting yourself and what you need to succeed. The first steps in doing that are working out what you need and asking for it. I’m sure any manager or leader in a business if asked for how one of their team can progress, they’ll do their upmost to help you achieve that. But they won’t be able to do that necessarily if they don’t know what you want.

Women sometimes can be inclined to stay quiet, and wait for something to fall into their lap, but things often don’t work that way in business. You need to put yourself forward."

 

Mona

     Mona Bartley 

     QA Engineer, SPG

     What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

     "To have our voice heard and stop the bias against women."

 

What do you think is the one thing we can all do every day to help #BreaktheBias

"Collaborate together and promote each others confidence to achieve our goals. Hire more women in high positions."

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Georgina Whitmore

Georgina Whitmore is Head of Talent at SPG (Shieldpay and Paycast)

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