Hatfield, September 2021 – With the issue of equality in such focus lately – andfemale equality in particular – it’s no surprise that many companies are takingsteps to address this important issue. And for the companies who have yet to geton board? To put it simply, says Jade De-Crescenzo, UK Finance Director forPayByPhone, it’s detrimental to businesses not to champion female team members.
According to the WorldEconomic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020, which explores a lack of parityfor women and men, the length of time it will take to close the gender gap has risenfrom 99 years to 135 years. To bring it into sharper focus, a recent study bythe Confederacy of British Industry found that the gender pay gap increasednearly eight per cent in the past year and is now an average of 18%.
That means there is notime like the present to empower women in the workplace. The good news forbusinesses is that it’s a smart business decision, with most research showingthat embracing gender diversity improves business performance. One study,conducted by Harvard Business Review of 1,069 leading firms across 35 countriesand 24 industries, found that gender diversity in a business creates moreproductive companies, as measured by market value and revenue. But the questionremains: how can we empower females in the workplace?
Tackle unconscious bias
The most important aspectwhen tackling unconscious bias is knowing yourself. By doing this, you are in abetter position to identify subconscious prejudices or stereotypes that you maynot even realise you have. In my company, PayByPhone, we did an in-depthpersonality profiling exercise, which has allowed everyone to understand moreabout themselves. The profiling results have enabled us to adapt to how weinteract with each other, and it has been invaluable in discovering how we’reperceived by our colleagues.
For me, particularly as afemale leader in a tech and finance position, the results have made me realisehow aspects of my personality – such as bynature being more of a quiet, reserved person – couldat times make me appearcolder and less approachable. I began working onimproving my visibilitywithin the business, as well as my interaction with colleagues. That in turn helped me be less afraid to make bolder decisions.
Work against tired tropes
One of the best ways topromote gender diversity is not to indulge in negative, harmful stereotypes. Askyourself, how do you perceive others around you? Do you make gender-basedassessments? Or do you let people’s work speak for itself? I’ve had good andbad bosses of both genders, but quite often when female bosses exhibitbehaviours that are simply strong leadership, they can be perceived asdomineering or worse.
When women work together,people may use old-fashioned phrases such as “they’re gossipy”. Luckily, that’snot been my experience in my company, which has a good diversity of gender inour UK senior management – it’s about 50/50. Women work best when we empower each other, so it’s our responsibilityto support and to build each other up.
Recruit creatively, trainsensitively
Recruiting is an opportunityto address the gender gap and thinking outside the box when hiring can be beneficialto business. Women returning to work after taking time out to start a family isone example. They are most often the one who takes the longer break from workin these circumstances, so be kind about gaps in a CV. Take a positive approachand ask questions such as, “In your time off, what transferrable skills haveyou learned?” or “What support would you need to resume a similar role to theone you left?”. Often, with minimal or no re-education or training, women can getback into careers they loved. All they need is an employer committed tocreating that opportunity for them to do so.
Be part of the solution
To give women,particularly those who are parents, an equitable chance, companies must also providemen the opportunity to take time off to be with children. This includes betterpaternity leave or the time to be the parent who takes on more childcare. Thatmay sound counterintuitive when addressing the gender gap, but it sends themessage that childcare is not the sole responsibility of the woman.
Companies should beworking to identify where they can improve. But don’t let the time it takes abusiness to change stop anyone from playing their part. People oftenunderestimate what their individual actions can achieve. As long as everyonetakes an active part in the solution, then businesses will become fairer, moreequitable places.
Jade De-Crescenzo, UK Finance Director, PayByPhone, a wholly owned subsidiaryof Volkswagen Financial Services AG, worked forseveral years as an accountant, including as the Group Management Accountant atPayPoint, before joining PayByPhone’s UK finance team in 2011 as FinancialController. She became Finance Director in 2018 andtoday leads a team that includes a Financial Controller, Management Accountant,Assistant Accountant and A/P & A/R Specialists, all of whom are based atthe PayByPhone UK headquarters in Hatfield, Hertfordshire. With a remit to helpgrow PayByPhone’s market share through rigorous financial management, Jadeplays an active role in implementing PayByPhone’s ambitious plans for thefuture to simplify its customers’ journeys.
PayByPhone, a whollyowned subsidiary of Volkswagen Financial Services AG, is one of the fastestgrowing mobile payments companies in the world, processing more than £430million in payments annually. Through the company's mobile web, smartphone andsmartwatch applications, PayByPhone helps millions of consumers easily, securelyand safely pay for parking without the hassles of waiting in line, having tocarry change or risking costly fines. Registration is quick and easy, and theapp reminds the user when their parking is about to expire, allowing them totop up from anywhere, at any time. In a commitment to the environment,PayByPhone became Carbon Neutral in the UK in 2019, then achieved CarbonNeutral Plus status in 2020, and was certified Carbon Reduced in 2021.