In late 2017, BPAY Group’s Kim Tyler found herself surrounded almost entirely by other women at an event. It’s been a rare occurrence over her 14-year career in the payments industry.
Kim Tyler - BPAY Group’s Head of Scheme Management & Operations
“When I first started in management roles, it would be nothing for me to walk into a room of a hundred men and be there on my own,” she says. “But today women are prepared to stand up, be counted and be a little bit louder in suggesting their worth to an organisation.”
That event was run by Women in Payments, which connects and empowers women striving for gender parity across Canada, the US, UK and Australia. It inspired Tyler to launch a program within BPAY Group to support emerging female leaders and culminated in her being awarded Women in Payments 2018 Advocate for Women Award.
“When I started my career, payments was very male-dominated and there weren’t a lot of female leaders who could act as a mentor for me. So, I think I’ve subconsciously taken that role, nurturing and supporting other females, after experiencing those challenges in the early stages of my career.”
Support vital for success
“I notice it even in my team: if I start to get a shift in the balance towards one particular sex, I can see the way we make decisions and how we operate as a team changes, so getting that balance right adds a lot of value.”
While the industry is slowly recognising the benefits of diversity, there is still a long way to go. Tyler, who is BPAY Group’s Head of Scheme Management & Operations, says she would like to see organisations continue to improve the work-life balance of employees – something which can be challenging for large bureaucracies.
“My husband was an unbelievable support when I first started my career and then I watched the difference for people who didn't have that support. The perception can be it’s your primary role to manage a household, to bring up kids, but when there's a shared responsibility with how households are run, it’s a big difference.”
The support of business leaders is also crucial and Tyler says her boss, General Manager Product, Scheme and Business Development, Keith Brown, fully backed her suggestion to launch a BPAY Group Women’s Leadership Support Program just over a year ago.
The program provides an opportunity for women to network and seek advice from each other, encouraging female leaders to take ownership of their own professional growth and development. Inspiration and role models have come from sessions with guest speakers and attending industry events.
"The program has highlighted the importance of self-belief and having a great network of people around you," says Amanda Wyllie who was part of the program along with her colleague Anna Anderson who agreed that self doubt can get in the way "women in leadership also feel vulnerable at times, but they strive to be and do their best in spite of that".
Sheifaly Suri believed that the program had made an impact on her mindset, "the way in which we think of ourselves has everything to do with how our world sees us and how we see ourselves successfully acknowledged by the world".
Encouraging the next generation
“There can be a boys’ club in financial services but I think things like Women in Payments are definitely helping to break that down because it's providing guidance for females about how to deal with adversity. You take responsibility for yourself to make a change – I'm a firm believer that one person can make a difference and if they influence the next person and then the next person, then you start to see the change flow through.”
Given BPAY Group has built strong credentials as innovative technology company, Tyler is turning her mind to how her group can reach out into the community and encourage more women in the field. More broadly, the next pool of leaders is already within the group she has fostered.
“When I look around the young girls in the office, they don’t feel as daunted by it. I think they know that they've got opportunities and growth and while there's still some pockets of bias, I think they’re growing in their own way to be able to deal with that as well.”
Seema Ali was inspired by learning of others paths to success. "We got the opportunity to interact with successful women and learn about their journeys. If they could do it, we could also do it!"
For an industry that relies on innovation to survive, these changes are a powerful way to secure its future.
This article represents the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BPAY.
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