Episode 22: WERKIN with Jennifer Rademaker on introspection

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On this week’s episode, Hayley talks with Jennifer Rademaker, EVP of Global Customer Delivery at Mastercard. Apart from her career with Mastercard, Rademaker has been recognized as an ally for her advocacy and sponsorship of the LGBT community. She shares what it takes to be an effective ally, the power of introspection and mentorship, and the importance of getting comfortable with video conference calls.

Jennifer Rademaker, EVP Global Customer Delivery at Mastercard

Jennifer Rademaker, EVP Global Customer Delivery at Mastercard

 Leading a division of 800 people located in 67 offices around the world, Rademaker is responsible for technical product launches across markets. She’s learned the value of a diverse workforce and what it takes to bring together teams across languages and cultures. “Not only do we have technical skills and customer facing skills, but we also do it in the local language. I'm very proud of the team and we've got a great mix of folks.”

 At a time when traditionally male dominated finance and tech companies seek to hire and support more diverse talent, it’s also remarkable that Rademaker leads a team with a 50-50 gender balance, of which 40% identify as people of color. “We've got a really nice mix and I think it sets the tone for what I expect in any organization I lead that the people have lots of opportunity, that we're encouraging of diversity. And most importantly that we have role models.”

 For early and mid- career employees from underrepresented groups, seeing themselves reflected in leaders at the top through role models, provides a vision and something to aspire to. For Rademaker, integrating diversity and inclusion to encourage a workplace with more of these role models is about setting a tone.

“If my people see that I'm a supportive, open, accepting advocate, it makes it a safe place for people and a safe place regardless of whether we're talking about LGBT or gender or people of color. It's setting the tone that this is something we want. That this is a place where people can actually grow.”

 Beyond setting an inclusive and supportive tone, Rademaker emphasizes that allies engage with underrepresented groups through mentorship, through supporting their careers to grow beyond recruitment, “I work one on one with people that I can help to get to the next level through one on one coaching sessions.”

 As the founder and CEO of WERKIN, Hayley Sudbury has observed that as the gender pay gap reports have come out, many companies with some of the biggest gaps too often focus solely on recruitment, but unless companies help women and other underrepresented groups throughout their careers, “people don't stay and they don't actually move up through to those senior positions.”

“Having career mentorship or coaching or sponsorship or all of the above is a key to helping people get to that next level. There's so much that you don't understand about an organisation and how to advance in an organisation. What are the unwritten rules? What are the right projects to get on? What are the roles that you should be looking for that signal that you're executive material? Sometimes this is impossible on your own and that's where a really great coach can help you in the first instance to wade through that and find your way, but also be an advocate for you,” according to Rademaker.

But it takes more than a mentor or a coach, it takes an advocate because to Rademaker, “so many of these promotions, new job opportunities, get decided off to the side and if you don't have somebody who's sitting at that table who's your advocate who mentions your name, you don't even get considered sometimes.” Which is why it is so important for more inclusive access to mentors and sponsors to advocate for more diverse groups of employees.

 And as a mentor to 28 people within Mastercard, Rademaker is doing her part. How does she manage mentoring so many? She says that asking questions early on to determine whether she can actually help these individuals from her position, understanding their goals, matters. She’s also started what she calls “coaching circles” to engage more mentees with similar interests. She also engages with emerging leaders to encourage them to take on more mentees, particularly women. It’s about “creating a sisterhood and a support system and it's simple things, like for example a lot of ladies can be very quiet in meetings, and men interpret that as she doesn't have anything to say. Well, she just might be shy and need a little encouragement. She probably has a lot to say. But sometimes folks need to be drawn out. What can you do in the meeting to support her?” Rademaker emphasizes the importance of shining a light on the achievements of others in meetings.

How does she manage to connect with her mentees and teammates across the globe? Rademaker admits it takes a degree of comfort with video conferencing, turning on that camera during a call “Especially if somebody is having a difficult thing that they need to be coached through. Sometimes that is easier in a face to face environment. Technology is so good, you can be anywhere and connect with people. And I feel very comfortable using that.”

Even with the supportive culture Rademaker has sought to create at Mastercard, financial services remains a difficult industry overall for women who make up just 14% of partners at UK firms. What are her top two tips to women considering a career in this industry?

“The first is to find your secret sauce. What is it that you do better than most people? People don't spend enough time on introspection, thinking about themselves and what is the talent that I'm really good at. And sometimes it can change throughout your career. What you're good at when you're 20 might be very different from what you're good at when you're 40 or 50 because you're evolving your skills. Have a very strong view of where your talents are and where are your areas of development.”

With a strong sense of self and your unique talents, “you do a much better job of picking roles and assignments and projects.” Apart from introspection, Rademaker recommends “finding a sponsor or a mentor or a coach who can give you honest feedback.”

For more from Hayley’s conversation with Jennifer Rademaker, including the shoes she rewarded herself with after her first big break and the power of having a good zoom lens, listen to the full interview on iTunes or SoundCloud

Tackling Structural Biases Behind the UK's Ethnicity Pay Gap

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In UK workplaces today, there are structural, historical biases that favour certain individuals. Leaders are making hiring decisions based upon preconceived notions of what makes a good employee. Wanting a good employee is admirable, however preconceived notions about what that employee’s profile might be too often stand in the way of hiring a diverse workforce. When individuals don’t fit employers’ preconceived notions of what a ‘good employee’ looks like because of their gender, race, ability or age, these biases are at play whether conscious or unconscious.  Research shows diverse workforces generate more revenue and innovation than homogenous teams. In fact, companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity are 35 per cent more likely to see higher-than-average profits than companies in the lowest quartile. 

It’s also no secret the UK is having trouble developing their economy in a rapidly-changing world. Technology in particular is disrupting established industries and creating new markets at an unprecedented pace. To compete and thrive globally, it’s critical to nurture and utilise all of the talent available.  

Many organisational processes, from recruitment through to progression to the very top, favour certain groups over others. This bias is often reinforced by outdated processes and behavioural norms that must change, to create more inclusive working environments that benefit everybody.  

The UK’s BAME Ethnicity Pay Gap 

According to Race in Workplace McGregor Smith Review, in 2016 14% of the UK working age population were from a Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) background and this number is expected to rise to 21% by 2051. However, this is not reflected in the majority of workplaces. Only 6% of top management positions are held by a BME person. A disproportionate number of BME employees are concentrated in lower paying jobs.  

The underemployment and underpromotion of people from BME backgrounds is widespread. The potential benefit to the UK economy from full representation of BME individuals across the labour market through improved participation and progression is estimated to be £24 billion a year, which represents 1.3% of GDP.  

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation found BME groups tend to have unequal access to opportunities for development due to a lack of clear information on training opportunities or progression routes within their workplaces. This can be made worse if: 

  • Progression relies on opaque or informal processes. 

  • There are a lack of BME role models or mentors at higher levels within their workplaces to provide support and advice.  

  • There is a gap between equality and diversity policies and practice in the workplace.  

Spotlight on structural biases 

How do these structural biases play out in workplaces? Below are some examples:  

  • Hostile work environment. A group in the majority is actively hostile towards certain employees in the minority, including discouraging or disparaging remarks. 

  • Inhospitable work environment. The group has a common bond that excludes certain employees. Often this means it's hard to advance professionally if some employees are left out of social activities outside of work. 

  • Covering. In order to survive, some employees must hide parts of their life, such as their sexuality or care responsibilities, that other people get to integrate with their work persona. 

  • Affinity bias. Managers may tend to mentor and support subordinates who are like them, helping to advance their career progression. 

  • Social capital. Organisations naturally recruit from people connected to them through referral programs. Who you know can provide you with introductions to hiring managers.  

  • Hidden tripwires. Usually the dominant group doesn't even realise these exist. Low paid or unpaid internships into roles such as art curator, journalist, academic and copywriter often exclude people who lack financial support from family or social networks. It's not surprising these professions are predominantly white and affluent.  

The importance of targets 

Late last year, the UK Government launched the Parker Review into ethnic diversity on boards across UK companies. It set targets for each FTSE 100 board to have at least one person of colour as a director by 2021, and each FTSE 250 board by 2024. 

According to the Race in Workplace McGregor Smith Review, addressing structural bias requires a critical examination of every stage of every workplace process, from how individuals are recruited to how they are supported to progress and fulfil their potential.  

“The importance of effective mentoring, sponsorship, role models and networks in delivering positive action needs to be understood at all levels of an organisation, with leaders taking responsibility for creating truly inclusive workplaces”.  

Baroness McGregor-Smith 

The report also found mentoring and sponsorship have consistently delivered results in supporting people from all backgrounds. It also lists a range of solutions to tackle the ethnicity pay gap including raising awareness of diversity challenges by:  

  • Establishing inclusive networks. 

  • Providing mentoring and sponsorship.  

Forming relationships and building networks across an organisation is an important way of seizing opportunities and making sure talent is recognised. In the review, 71% of individual respondents cited a lack of connections to the ‘right people’ as a factor in them not progressing at work. Individuals highlighted networking and support as the most beneficial intervention they had experienced to assist career progression.  

Only one in 16 top management positions are held by an ethnic minority person.  

Tech-enabled mentoring 

WERKIN’s tech-enabled mentoring platform facilitates, scales and measures mentoring programs and sponsorship across large organisations. WERKIN’s approach reduces bias by identifying employee skills, achievements and interests using technology rather than human instinct.  

  • Managers can set goals and schedule regular meetings as mentees work towards achieving learning objectives.  

  • Push notifications and optional geolocation connect mentors and mentees across global teams, helping them to meet for a coffee should they find themselves in the same city.  

  • Team leaders can also assign stretch assignments based on development needs rather than who is visible in their immediate circle.  

  • At the close of the financial year, dashboards showing the number of mentoring meetings, milestones, stretch assignments and promotions is available for stakeholders and shareholders, demonstrating progress towards gender pay gap targets. 

Mitigating institutional biases in the UK workplace for BAME employees is now a national economic imperative. Research and extensive reviews have shown that preconceived notions of what constitutes a ‘good employee’ is preventing BAME talent from achieving their potential. The UK needs a full spectrum of representation in their workplaces to compete globally, as well as to thrive locally. Mentoring and sponsorship that cuts across traditional relationship lines have been shown to be effective in developing BAME staff. WERKIN’s technology-enabled mentoring platform reduces bias by taking human instinct out of career development decisions. Algorithms enable team leaders to assess candidate suitability solely on their skills, experience and achievement.  

Beyond the Gender Pay Gap

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The UK’s Gender Pay Gap reporting requirement launched last year sparked an ongoing conversation about the causes of pay gaps and what can be done to close them. This conversation coincides with uncertainty surrounding the UK’s departure from the European Union. With questions over what a post-Brexit economy will look like, many firms become less open to taking risks and making any significant changes. As companies prepare for the 2019 gender pay gap reporting deadline on 4 April amid Brexit negotiations, what is the pay gap picture in the city of London?

Calculating the gender pay gap

 The gender pay gap is calculated as the difference between average hourly earnings (excluding overtime) of women and men as a proportion of average hourly earnings (excluding overtime) of men’s earnings. For example, a 4% gender pay gap denotes that women earn 4% less per hour, on average, than men. Conversely, a negative 4% gender pay gap denotes that women earn 4.0% more, on average, than men.

The gender pay gap fell from 2017 to 2018, to stand at 8.6% among full-time employees. The gap among all employees is higher (17.9%), driven by more women working in part-time jobs, which are lower paid (an average hourly rate is £9.36 compared with £14.31, excluding overtime, for full-time jobs).

Credit: Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) - Office for National Statistics

Credit: Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) - Office for National Statistics

In 2018 the gender pay gap for full-time employees was close to zero between the ages of 18 and 39 years. From the age of 40, the pay gap widens, an age coinciding with an increase in working part-time. A negative gender pay gap among part-time employees emerges in the age group 30 to 39 years before reversing by the age of 50 years.

Another key factor in the gender pay gap is the management gap. As the Financial Times reported, as pay increases for any given position, there are fewer women occupying that position. 29.5% of all women hold the lowest paid positions at their companies, while just 19.2% held the highest paid positions, or the top quartile. With these patterns of women leaving full-time work at the height of their careers, and ultimately being underrepresented in the highest paid executive positions, one must ask ‘why?’ That women simply do not occupy the highest paid positions at a company is not a sufficient answer for the gender pay gap. It should be the start of a more nuanced conversation.

Credit: Financial Times

Credit: Financial Times

Diverse perspectives drive innovation

Given the work to be done to close the gender pay gap while also facing Brexit, many firms may be tempted to put the gender pay gap on the back burner. However, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that in these turbulent times, it is a commitment to supporting a more diverse workforce that can strengthen a business. Jamie Broderick, chief executive for UBS Wealth Management UK, said that boardroom diversity can yield innovative solutions, adding “When you have change in the business, when you have stress in a business, those are exactly the times when you need creative, diverse debate around what’s next, because diversity works best in an environment where you’re struggling with problems, and trying to create innovative solutions around change.”

An intersectional problem needs intersectional reporting

Despite all the talk on diversity, women and BAME individuals are still facing an alarming bias in the UK’s job market. BAME individuals face an ethnicity pay gap that may be as high as 17%, but without reporting requirements, this is an estimate. Looking ahead, if the government is serious about holding companies accountable for closing pay gaps, an ethnicity pay gap reporting requirement is needed.

Pay gaps are a symptom of the many inequities fuelled by conscious and unconscious biases in workplace policies, ranging from recruitment to promotion and retention. A recent study published by the Centre for Social Integration at Nuffield College, University of Oxford, found that when  researchers sent almost 3,200 applications to both manual and non-manual jobs – including software engineers, marketing, chefs and shop assistants – advertised on a popular recruitment platform between 20016 and 2017, they found that on average, 24% of applicants of white British origin received a positive response from employers, compared with 15% of minority ethnic applicants applying with identical CVs and cover letters. Applicants of Pakistani origin had to submit 70% more applications. Those of Nigerian, Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) origin had to submit 80% and 90% more, respectively.

This is not the first time a study has found bias against applicants with names perceived as non-white. Beyond recruitment, similar patterns emerge in explaining projected ethnicity pay gaps when these groups gain employment. Despite modest gains highlighted by the government last year, BAME employees remain significantly underrepresented in senior management positions. Fewer than one tenth of management jobs in the UK are held by BAME individuals. These findings reiterate the need to reduce the space for conscious and unconscious biases in workplace processes that impact the careers of employees.

How can pay gap reporting help?

As the UK prepares for the next round of gender pay gap reporting, potential employees and consumers are paying attention. Gender and ethnic pay gap reporting has the potential to support accountability, transparency, substantiate action and a scope for improvement.

Other governments can learn from the UK’s groundbreaking gender pay gap reporting policy, tracking how it is implemented and how the data is validated and used. Other countries are examining alternative options. For example, the French government recently announced measures requiring companies to close its gender pay gap within three years.

The Government Equalities Office says it will use the results from the first year of reporting to “target our efforts effectively as we continue to work closely with employers towards eliminating the gender pay gap”.

A good start would be refining the way in which data is collected and analysed to identify patterns around when women leave full-time work in their careers and when they return. Further, disaggregating data by ethnicity, and additional reporting requirements for the ethnicity pay gap will help to better understand the causes of inequities in the workplace. Policymakers must ensure that individuals from underrepresented groups have a voice in developing these reporting requirements.

Tracking gender and ethnic pay gaps is a start, but this data should be used to inform policies to improve career progression and stamp out employment discrimination, both overt and systemic. WERKIN’s mentoring technology helps to reduce bias in decision-making processes, matching mentors with mentees outside of their immediate lines of sight. WERKIN is the market leader in Diversity Tech and is changing who managers see and how they assemble diverse teams.

UK Gender Pay Gap 2019: Actions that Can Move the Dial

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With four months to go until the 2019 UK gender pay gap deadline, 6% of employers have already submitted their numbers. This early data shows a median pay gap of 11.4%, a slight improvement from 11.8% a year ago.

Research by executive recruitment company Spencer Stuart also reveals the proportion of women on FTSE 100 executive committees has slid backwards from 18.6% in 2018, compared with 19.4% in 2017. Meanwhile, the percentage of all-male executive committees has more than doubled from 7.6% to 15.7%.

It seems progress on narrowing the gender pay gap has stalled. Commentators say these mixed results show a need for employers to submit action plans, targets and narratives alongside their numbers.

According to the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission report:

  • Only one in five employers sampled has produced an action plan to close the gender pay gap.

  • Only 11% had set themselves targets that would enable them to measure progress of their plans year on year.

Lack of progress impacts employee retention

Most corporate leaders now understand companies must achieve diversity if they want to acquire and retain talent, build employee engagement and improve business performance.

According to a new survey of 2,000 UK employees by Boston Consulting Group, 46% of female respondents said no progress had been made in their organisation in the past three years. Not only that, UK workers are more likely to leave companies that fail to make progress on diversity and inclusion.

Invisible barriers to progression: unconscious bias

Clearly, companies have not made much progress in their ability to deal effectively with diversity and the problem is acute at the leadership level. BCG’s data shows most company leaders—primarily white, heterosexual males—still underestimate the challenges diverse employees face.

When BCG asked diverse employees if they see obstacles to diversity and inclusion at their company, more than a third said yes. Also:

·      Half of all diverse employees stated that they see bias as part of their day-to-day experience at work.

·      Half said they don’t believe their companies have the right mechanisms in place to ensure that major decisions, such as who receives promotions and stretch assignments, are free from bias. 

Evidence-based actions for employers

Knowing what works is the first step. The Government Equalities Office has partnered with Professor Iris Bohnet, author of What Works: Gender Equality by Design to publish a guide to improving gender equality in organisations.

“To move the dial on equalising pay, we need to de-bias systems, not people. Human resource management must be based on rigorous evidence of what works to level the playing field, treat everyone fairly and benefit from 100 percent of the talent pool. Evidence-based design of hiring practices, promotion procedures and compensation schemes help our organisations do the right and the smart thing, creating more inclusive and better workplaces. This guidance is an important step towards helping employers know what works.”

Dr Iris Bohnet, Roy E. Larsen Professor of Public Policy and Director of the Women and Public Policy Program, Harvard Kennedy School


Ideas for action

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published several recommendations to include in a good action plan:

  • Provide a clear brief, including diversity targets, to any recruitment consultants and executive search firms.

  • Introduce women’s networks to develop peer support across the organisation.

  • Develop mentoring schemes for women to build skills and encourage development.


Mentoring to move the dial on your metrics

WERKIN’s tech-enabled mentoring platform uses algorithms to impartially match mentors and mentees across large organisations. WERKIN’s approach reduces bias by identifying employee skills, achievements and interests using technology rather than human instinct.

  • Managers can set goals and schedule regular meetings as mentees work towards achieving learning objectives.

  • Push notifications and optional geolocation connect mentors and mentees across global teams, helping them to meet for a coffee should they find themselves in the same city.

  • Team leaders can also assign stretch assignments based on development needs rather than who is visible in their immediate circle.

  • At the close of the financial year, dashboards showing the number of mentoring meetings, milestones, stretch assignments and promotions is available for stakeholders and shareholders, demonstrating progress towards gender pay gap targets.

Although the UK Gender Pay Gap is heading in the right direction, there is still a lot that can be done to provide women access to the same development opportunities as men in the workplace. Studies show building a pipeline of qualified women requires reducing bias in the selection process for promotions, stretch assignments and mentoring. Technology can level the playing field by minimising the influence of unconscious bias in these decisions.

WERKIN combines behavioural science research with technology to deliver a solution that reduces bias, streamlines workplace processes and provides measurable results. What is your company doing to move the dial? Tackling a complex problem like the gender pay gap, WERKIN helps organisations define metrics to track progress towards building more equitable workplaces.