Why investing in women matters now more than ever

March 8, 2024 | By Eimear Creaven
Nurturing the next generation of female leaders has been a long-standing commitment at Mastercard, and every day we’re working towards making a positive impact for women. International Women’s Day, marked each year on March 8th, is a time to reflect, renew and refocus our efforts towards the pursuit of inclusion and equality within the workplace and beyond.  

Because when we design a better world for women, it creates limitless possibilities for everyone.   

This year’s IWD UN theme ‘Invest in Women, Accelerate Progress,’ reminds us that inequality and exclusion still hold women back, but that strides can be made when we invest in transforming the way our world works for women.  

This starts with our people.  

It’s essential that we foster an environment where everyone feels valued, respected and empowered to reach their greatest potential.  

In a recent study we conducted exploring what financial empowerment means for women across Europe, only one in four women reported feeling financially supported in the workplace.  

With women across the region admitting to a lack of confidence in employers to provide supportive workplace policies, it means that, together, we must all do more to ensure women feel more financially empowered.  

28% of women also said that the gender wage gap holds back their financial empowerment, which was defined as no longer having a negative feeling when checking a bank balance, being able to make informed financial decisions, and having access to resources that help achieve goals and feel confident in managing finances.  

At Mastercard, women and men are paid equally for the work that they do, based on employees at the same level doing the same work.  

We also aim to ensure that men and women receive the same opportunities across all levels of our company, providing equal access to compensation and career development.  

Our Women’s Mentoring program helps positively impact female employee engagement and supports internal career moves. In 2022, 900 women participated in the program.  

While great progress has been made, we know there’s still work to be done, and we continue to review and develop new approaches to improve how we recruit, retain and develop our female talent.  

Championing women beyond our organisation  

Women play a pivotal role as catalysts for growth, innovation and social change, and bridging the gender digital divide will enable women to participate and thrive in an increasingly digital world. 

In 2020, we achieved a significant milestone, reaching our commitment to bring 500 million excluded individuals into the digital economy. We achieved that goal through more than 350 innovative programs across 80 countries, and have since doubled down on our original commitment, aiming to reach 1 billion individuals by 2025, many of whom are women. 

This commitment also included support for 25 million female entrepreneurs to help them grow their businesses, and we surpassed this too. Since 2020, we have provided 27 million women entrepreneurs with solutions that can help them grow their businesses. 

We’re also supporting women entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, confidence and resilience, through our Strive program, which provides female business owners with free guidance, tools and mentoring to enhance the productivity of their business.  

In Europe, we’ve reached more than one million small UK businesses, more than half of which are led by females through Strive UK, and Strive Czechia provides access to digitalization resources and mentoring and training programs for female entrepreneurs. 

Supporting women starts with girls 

The girls of today are tomorrow’s problem solvers and future leaders, and it’s therefore vital that they’re empowered from an early age. 

Our Girls4Tech program is the largest STEM program designed for young girls. Over the past decade, Girls4Tech has reached almost 6 million girls, inspiring them to pursue careers in STEM and making a significant step towards empowering the next generation. The program has been carried out in 63 countries, with 23 of those being in Europe.  

At Mastercard, we will continue to spearhead projects that not only expand opportunities for female employees, but also support small-business owners and startups, and partner with organizations that share our dedication to gender balance. 

As we look ahead to International Women’s Day 2025, we remain firmly committed to empowering women, unlocking their potential, and building a future where equality and opportunity are not just ideals but lived realities.  

Photo of Eimear Creaven
Eimear Creaven, President, Western Europe, Mastercard