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Signing HM Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter

By Mark Barnett

Earlier this year I signed HM Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter, on behalf of Mastercard in the UK, which is a pledge for gender balance across financial services.

I felt it was critical that Mastercard support this initiative, as although I believe we already do a significant amount to champion diversity and the empowerment of women, gender imbalance in financial technology is particularly acute. So we must support this initiative and push for change.

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With technology being at the heart of finance today and women occupying only 1 in every 4 technology roles, we are proud of the achievements we have made and 40% of our workforce being female. However, to create more women leaders at Mastercard, we must do more. By signing up to the Women in Finance Charter we will continue to focus on building a gender diverse group of leaders from a wide variety of backgrounds, experiences and viewpoints.

Furthermore, we are committing to the following targets for gender diversity in our senior management:

  • At least ‘one qualified’ female candidate on the slate for all mid to senior level vacancies in the UK;
  • A target of 40% females in the UK senior team by 2020; and,
  • Continual development of a range of progressive policies to support flexible working in the UK.

On an annual basis we will also share detail around our male : female ratios at senior management level, and across the UK business as a whole. We will also link the individual reward of our UK senior executive team to achievements against our internal gender diversity targets and by ensuring that gender objectives are embedded into our UK goals.

We also have to recognise the moments and decisions in life which can impact the trajectory of our careers. Perhaps the most obvious moment is when we need to leave the workforce for a while as other priorities take over – commonly for women this can be taking time out to take care of children. We know that even the most highly skilled women who do so, are less likely to become executive leaders later in their careers.

These are highly experienced people, but when they were thinking of getting back into the workforce, some were told by peers and recruiters to consider stepping down a level, or to accept a pay decrease.

The pay gap widens consistently for 12 years after a first child is born, by which point women receive 33% less pay an hour than men, according to the research funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

So I’m proud to say we are doing something about it.

Mastercard has designed a programme in the UK for people returning to work after a career break. It’s called Relaunch Your Career, and gives returners a commercial project, plus on-the-job training, mentoring and support. They’ll also have a buddy from day one.  This program is being piloted in the UK and, depending on its success, can be rolled out globally.

I genuinely believe that gender balance is crucial to the success of our business and the personal and professional development of all our employees, and it’s on this basis that I have taken personal responsibility, as the senior executive at Mastercard, to ensure we meet our commitments and targets we have agreed to as a signatory of the Women in Finance Charter.

Mark Barnett is Division President, United Kingdom and Ireland for MasterCard.