We want to continue to provide opportunities for an increasing number of women to work in an environment where they are supported, developed and can advance their careers. We are focused on this not just because it’s the right thing to do but we know that having greater diversity in teams and more women in senior leadership roles means better outcomes for the business across areas such as innovation, revenue, stock price and even governance/ risk management.
This month we catch up with Vice President Talent for Mastercard Middle East & Africa, Carys Richards.
WEPs UAE: Hello Carys, please introduce yourself and your work at Mastercard.
Carys: My role at Mastercard is to lead the Talent function for the Middle-East and Africa region based out of Dubai. The key areas I am responsible for are:
- Talent Acquisition – making sure we hire the best people in the market.
- Talent Management – ensuring that our people are managed in a way that aligns with our leadership philosophy, we have succession for our leadership roles and we are moving talent around the company based on its emerging needs and people’s aspirations.
- Talent Development – developing our people for the jobs that they do today and the jobs of the future including future including leadership development.
I initially started my career in the UK working in HR roles covering the European financial and professional services sectors. Then, about 7 years ago, I relocated to Dubai with my husband and since then my career has focused on HR and Talent across the Middle East & Africa markets.
I am hugely passionate about talent and next generation leadership development, as well as ensuring that the organization I work in has the right environment, culture and systems in place for women to thrive. I’m fortunate that Mastercard is an organization that also believes these things are critical to the company’s future success.
W: Tell us a bit about Mastercard’s vision for the region and how that manifests here?
C: Our vision is to make Mastercard the career destination of choice for women. We want to continue to provide opportunities for an increasing number of women to work in an environment where they are supported, developed and can advance their careers. We are focused on this not just because it’s the right thing to do but we know that having greater diversity in teams and more women in senior leadership roles means better outcomes for the business across areas such as innovation, revenue, stock price and even governance/ risk management.
We have a lot of programs in place for women to help create the right environment for them to be successful, as well as ensuring that our underlying systems and processes help support our gender goals. This includes recruitment practices such as ensuring that for every role we are hiring for, we have a minimum of one qualified woman being interviewed even if it means the hiring process takes longer as its typically harder to find suitable female candidates in the technology industry. Last year 83% of slates globally had at least one female candidate and as a result, in 2017 40% of our global hires and 55% of our university hires were women.
We have a generous, fully paid maternity leave policy and a flexible working policy which enables all employees to work from home or a different location on a regular basis or when they need to. Last year we also increased our paternity leave policy from 5 days to 8 weeks full pay for new fathers as we want recognize the important role that men play in supporting their family and women succeeding at work.
We also have development programs in place that help support women in areas where, through research, we know they can feel less confident than their male counterparts, as well as investing in unconscious bias training for the whole workforce. Many of our leadership programs also place a lot of emphasis on helping leaders understand the business benefit of diverse teams.
W: In what way does Mastercard innovate to create success stories?
C: In addition to those policies and programs, in 2017 we also launched the first ‘returnship’ program in the MEA region called ‘Relaunch your Career’ supported by Hopscotch, in which we offered paid 4 month long work placement opportunities to people looking to return to work after having a career break of >2 years. Our intake for 2017 gave three women the opportunity to come back into the workplace and gain up-to-date work experience as well as being supported by a development curriculum. We were delighted with the results of the program last year and all three women who joined us on the program were offered permanent jobs, therefore this year we have expanded the program to 8 placements across Dubai and Johannesburg.
We are increasing the representation of women in the company, particularly at the senior levels, which is ultimately what our goal is and I feel strongly that all of the programs, policies and practices we have in place have directly contributed towards this. I’m also really proud that although the Middle East and Africa region is not well known globally for having a high level of women representation in the work place, at Mastercard our percentage of women in the workforce is comparable to the rest of the world. In addition to our overall numbers increasing, we have also been recognized externally by a number of different organization as a top employer for women and have won awards such as; Forbes – best employers for women, DiversityInc – top companies for diversity, Bloomberg’s gender equality index, Professional Woman’s Magazine’s – “Best of the Best” Employers for Diversity and the Women’s Choice Award – Best Companies to Work for Millennials.
W: How do you feel you differ from other large companies here and what more would you like to achieve?
C: We know that many global companies like ours are focused on gender related policies and programs and they also run many of the same initiatives I have talked about, which is fantastic. What we need is for many more companies in our region, whether global or local, to put more of a focus on how they can attract, develop and retain women. I talk to lots of women externally who are looking for jobs and they tell me how they are continually passed over for job opportunities by companies because they have had a career break to raise a family. We won’t achieve a balanced workforce and gender parity unless all companies take a different approach and think in an unconventional way about what a good CV looks like. What I have found is that even though a woman may have been out of work for 3-4 years to raise a family, during that time she may have done really interesting things like further education or started a small business – that’s all valuable experience and learning that organizations can benefit from even though it’s not ‘traditional’ career experience at a company.
I would say that all of our regions across the globe have a huge focus on gender diversity and have been successful in different areas. Our ‘Relaunch your Career’ program has only been run in Middle East & Africa and Europe so far, so I think both regions have lead the way with that kind of ‘returnship’ program and we know that the other regions across Mastercard are planning to follow in 2018. From our CEO and Executive team level down, we are committed to scaling up this initiative across the globe. I’m immensely proud to work for a company that has a commitment to creating an environment that makes this possible.
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