4 ways we’re bringing more gender balance to GoCardless
By Gabriela MatiasMar 20193 min read
We know there’s more to do when it comes to gender diversity in our team. Since last March, the number of women at GoCardless has grown by 3% to 37% overall – including a 7% increase in our tech teams (15%), 3% in management (32%), and 6% in women in senior leadership roles (20%).
Although numbers have gone up, we’re looking at how we can improve gender balance in areas where it lags the most – Product Development and senior leadership.
To help us achieve this, and because they believe in unleashing individuals’ potential, some of our women leaders came together to form a group focused on gender balance at GoCardless, sponsored by Catherine Birkett, our CFO.
A perception problem
Last year, one of our employee engagement surveys showed women at GoCardless perceived fewer career opportunities than men.
“We wanted to understand what was driving that perception,” explains Kasey, our Data Protection Officer. “As a first step, some of our senior female leaders came together as a group and planned an ‘unconference’ – a way to get bottom-up input from everyone across the business.”
At the unconference, we tackled some complex topics, like how focusing on women might affect the role of allies in driving change. Or that some of the barriers to women's success actually affect all colleagues, like the availability of mentorship programmes and flexible working.
At the end of it, we identified four focus areas which we hope will help us bring more gender balance to GoCardless:
1. Connecting with other organisations
Magda, Senior Operations Manager at GoCardless, has been involved in women’s groups before and has seen what an informal community that works towards the same goal can achieve.
Magda’s leading one of our four focus areas: to get more women to know about GoCardless and its culture, for example supporting recruitment efforts by engaging with organisations that focus on supporting women. Magda is also looking at creating a support network for women at GoCardless, by reaching out to other businesses, as well as youth groups and colleges.
“Connecting with other organisations is a way to change the perception of how young women see technology,” says Magda. This has been shown to have positive effects on women’s careers and even feelings of connection (HBR, 2018).
2. Flexible working
For us, flexible working means being able to adjust your working schedule for personal preference or need, including working remotely.
Nina Pepper, our Director of Demand Generation, says: “This doesn’t just impact women with children. Everyone needs flexibility for child commitments or it could be that you have an entirely different commitment or interest outside of work that could benefit from flexible working.”
As part of our focus on this, we’ve identified the areas that prevent people from taking advantage of flexible working.
Nina explains: “People need to feel able to work outside of ‘usual’ hours and management need to have the tools and the right attitude towards it. I look forward to seeing the impact of the initiatives and getting feedback from everyone at GoCardless about how we’re doing.”
3. Mentoring and coaching
Marta Lia Requeijo, our Money Laundering Reporting Officer, has experienced first hand the impact of positive mentoring and coaching.
“Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to be inspired by great mentors,” says Marta. “The positive, long-term impact of sharing life experiences and steps towards success was life changing for me.”
Being a mentee can help you feel more supported, give you fresh perspectives on career development, and help you build your network. But it also benefits mentors, who better understand what is happening with younger team members.
We’re working on a pilot for an official mentoring and coaching programme to launch later in the year – and in the meantime, our leaders have started informal mentoring of younger women at GoCardless.
We’re sharing what we’re doing internally and externally to raise awareness, surface issues and gain support.
We’ll be looking at how we communicate about gender diversity and engage on these issues with our colleagues and wider networks.
“Our messaging and communications are so important to success,” says Data Protection Officer, Kasey.
“We want everyone to know our purpose and mission, to understand what tools and resources are there to help, and to have someplace to go with questions, ideas or even rants. My goal is for all women (and men) at GoCardless to understand why this matters to us and what we’re doing about it.”
Towards a more gender-balanced future
Like many groups that support gender diversity at work, we face challenges – from finding the time to dedicate to this, to making sure we have men from the business involved too.
But we’re delighted to get this conversation going, and to have a committed team of colleagues leading it.
“We hope that more male and female colleagues will participate, contribute to ideas and help us bring those ideas to life,” says our Director of Operations, Yasemin.
Senior Operations Manager, Magda, says: “I hope this will allow us to ask ourselves some hard questions around what the problems are, and what it really takes to make change.”
Nanna, our Director of Banking Operations, adds: “This is a chance for all the cool, talented women we have here at GoCardless to explore their ambitions and to see (and shape!) the career opportunities that are available.”