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Diversity pays: How a focussed community is diversifying the Payments sector

Karishma Panda
30 November 2023

The McKinsey Workplace Report 2023 put it plainly: “women’s representation is not keeping pace”. This wasn’t just another report to gloss over; it was a wake-up call for us all. In an effort to effectively contribute to change, Capgemini Financial Services is humbled to be hosting an event in the UK with a game-changing community that seeks to empower women in the Payments industry.

Sharing ideas and challenges with other people is one of the most important steps when it comes to making the world a better and more equitable place. Imagine this: a vibrant room full of leaders, experts, and passionate individuals, all coming together under one roof. You don’t have to imagine it, because this is what was achieved on November 14th. Together, Capgemini and the Payments Leader Summit hosted a hub for discussions about the hurdles women in the Payments industry and wider financial services sector face – and the innovative solutions to leap over them.

From conversation to action

Rewinding to Sibos, we saw first-hand how a casual conversation can spark a major shift. A forward-thinking group of leaders got together, and from that chat, a movement took shape. They formed a UK community with a clear goal: to challenge and change the narrative around gender representation in the Payments sector.

April 2023 was a landmark month for the movement – the diversity network hosted their first-ever event. Each panel, each new meeting, and each coffee break buzzed with ideas and a shared commitment to change. And it didn’t stop there. Cut to this month, and we’re proudly hosting their second event. This time we went even deeper, tackling topics like open banking and how women leaders are heading the decision on some of the pathbreaking industry initiatives. Few reflections from the panel discussions:

Open banking’s impact on the industry

Let’s talk about open banking. Since it kicked off in the UK in 2018, it’s been nothing short of a revolution. Its adoption has accelerated notably in the past two to three years, especially since ISO 20022 was brought to the table. The UK has led the way in payments as these forms of emerging technology and generative AI are making innovation and collaboration seamless. This growth can be seen in areas like embedded finance and the new payment methods, including tokenisation and digital assets. This event took a hard look at this. The experts – Flavia Alzetta, CEO, PayInnovate; Marion King, Chair and Trustee, Open Banking, and Helen Child, Founder, Open Banking Excellence (OBE) – explored how the UK measures up on the global stage and how we balance keeping customer data safe with offering a seamless experience.

Striking a balance: data vs. customer

The discussions then shifted to the intricate dance of data security and personalisation in the age of generative AI and new technologies. This includes Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) and API-based services. The challenge? Marrying the personalisation customers love with ironclad data security. The panels hosted by Indrani Gardner, Head of Comms, Pay.UK; Bhavna Saraf, Head of Payments & Products Propositions, Santander, and Terrie Smith, CEO, Digiseq went beyond theoretical discussions; they were brainstorming sessions for actionable, real-world solutions.

Gender diversity in financial services

The final panel was a deep dive into gender diversity. Here, Samantha Emery, Director of Payments & Industry Development, Lloyds Banking Group; Nicki Rogers, Head of Sales, Amazon Pay; Amit Mahajan, Head of Innovation Project Exploration, SWIFT, and Gareth Wilson, Head of UK Banking and Capital Markets, Capgemini delved into strategies to ensure diversity and enhance awareness within this sector and beyond.

In the past, organisations often viewed ticking boxes and meeting quotas as the only way to achieve diversity. It’s important for companies to shift their focus from viewing women as numbers to the valuable insights and contributions they bring to the table, including the impact on revenue.

The conversation then moved to allies and how important they can be when building diversity. The panellists emphasized the need for women to build a network of allies, fostering a learning and sharing environment. And without a doubt, this community event was a great occasion to do just that.

Though there’s still significant work to be done to minimize the gender gap, women leadership in the CxO suite has seen an increase in recent years, highlighting the positive implications of growing progressive movements. Aspiring professionals are growing inspired as they see themselves having a career in financial services and being the next generation of industry leaders.

Looking at the road ahead

As the event concluded, there was an unmistakable sense of anticipation and new ideas. But this is just the beginning. Plans are already underway for the next event in early 2024, and it promises to build on these discussions and actions. This initiative is more than just a series of meetings; it’s a movement aimed at driving real change in the Payments industry. We’re committed to making a tangible impact, fostering a culture of diversity and innovation. Stay tuned – there’s much more to come on this journey.

Meet the experts

Karishma Panda

Director, Financial Services, Capgemini

Gareth Wilson

Executive Vice President – Head of UK Banking and Capital Markets

Shashi Nirale

Head of UK Banking & Capital Markets Business Development