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ShieldpayMar-08 20247 min read

International Women's Day: Reflections from the Shieldpay team

Reflections from the Shieldpay team on International Women's Day and the theme of Inspire Inclusion.

Sophie Condie - Chief Operating Officer at Shieldpay

To better support women in the tech industry, implementing structured and less formal mentorship programs is essential. Structured and less formal mentorship programs and creating a culture of knowledge sharing will give women a safe space to share and feel confident about their seat at the table. Then, women can feel empowered through connecting and sharing experiences to navigate their careers as well as their work-life balance.

Role models are a must. Putting women in key leadership positions, including C-suite and board members, will show the women pursuing the same career, that it's normal to excel within the sector.

There are fantastic networks for women looking for mentoring, coaching, and sponsorship (I absolutely urge everyone to have at least one of these at every stage of your career), such as Women in Tech, Women in Banking and Finance and more localised programmes. Lots of our partners and clients have internal programmes for Women to gain network and growth opportunities. The next challenge is finding the time to attend them in the fast-paced world we all live in!

As women, we've got to recognise that our mission is to uplift each other and improve representation across the board. 

This comment was first published in TechRound's IWD 2024 piece featuring a panel of women from diverse backgrounds and at various stages in their careers, to share their insights and recommendations on how the tech industry can more effectively support and empower women. Read the article here


Georgie Whitmore - Head of People, Culture and Development at Shieldpay

People and Culture plays a significant role in creating environments that support and listens to the bespoke needs of women.  

Firstly, fostering an inclusive culture is paramount. We must actively combat biases and stereotypes - stop expecting women to minute meetings, springs to mind! More broadly speaking women take on more mental load at home as well as at work. They are often the primary volunteers for extra community responsibilities such as managing a firm's response to IWD.  

Flexibility is essential, not just a bonus. We, in the People world, must expand our definition of flexibility. It is not merely adjusting someone's workday by an hour; it entails refraining from overloading women, by expecting the same output, and seeing anything under that expected output as ‘less’.  

In my view, the most egregious offenders, consistently displaying unfairness and lack of empathy, are often women themselves. I'm not referring to women's treatment of each other, but rather how harshly we judge ourselves. I am on a personal mission, not only as a woman but also as a daughter of an incredible woman who professional struggled during her menopausal journey, to bolster the confidence of women on an individual basis and shine a mirror to the superheroes they are!  


Claire Van der Zant - Director of Strategic Partnerships at Shieldpay
  • How can the tech industry better support women? 

For me, this is bigger than just the tech industry, I think it’s business-wide. And I’m going to come at this from a personal point of view, which is specifically focusing on women who are going through peri-menopause and menopause. We’re in the prime of our lives, have 20+ years of experience and have incredible value to offer. But now we are dealing with all manner of personal changes and challenges, including brain fog, exhaustion, feeling overwhelmed, mood swings, anxiety, depression… this to me is one of the biggest challenges for all businesses to become more attuned and proactive towards. We still want to have good careers, but we need more help and understanding. Creating an accessible environment for women who are experiencing significant changes is so important. 


  • What is the most impactful change you have seen a company implement to support and champion women in the workplace - why? 

I’m hearing more and more that education and awareness of the menopause is surfacing in businesses, but there is so much more to do here. We need policies that reflect our changing needs, we need company-wide education, we need flexibility, we need to be able to have safe conversations with our managers. Everyone will experience menopause, whether it’s your partner, your parent, your child, your colleague. So we should all understand more about how the menopause affects people differently, and how we can adjust to support their changing needs. I love how proactive Shieldpay has been on developing policies, education and resources for our people on menopause. Knowing my company is supportive, proactive and inclusive on menopause has been incredibly helpful for me. It doesn’t take away the challenges of dealing with peri-menopause, but knowing I’m supported and genuinely cared for makes all the difference. 


  • As a woman in tech, who is a role model for you and your career? And why? 

I actually admire women who have broken out of very successful careers to pursue something they are passionate about that helps others in the workplace. Kim Scott on her Radical Candour approach to business, Brene Brown on her mission to understand vulnerability, Helen Tupper on normalising Squiggly Careers - there’s lots more - but these are women than felt like they needed to create a bigger voice for their insights that within a business, and I love that they have been brave enough to leave their careers to help others. 


  • What is something small that we could all do that would create a big change for women? 

I’m going to steal the theory behind Kim Scott’s work here, but care personally (i.e. really care) and challenge directly (i.e. tell us how it is so that we learn and grow, not to put us down or make us feel incapable). It works for everyone, not just women, but we can only change positively if we’re given the tools and opportunity to do so. 


Niall YoreProduct Innovation & Strategy Analyst, and member of Shieldpay's IDEA community
  • How can the tech industry better support women?
    I think this comes from the senior leadership within companies to support inclusive behaviours and encourage open dialogue. Our IWD event was a great opportunity to listen and learn about the experiences of our female leaders within Shieldpay. Supporting this dialogue makes us aware of the challenges faced within the industry, and as a result, it makes us all individually think how we can better support our colleagues.

  • What is the most impactful change you have seen a company implement to support and champion women in the workplace - why?
    Genuinely, I believe Shieldpay has been incredible for championing women in the workplace (and I promise I've not been told to say this). There isn't one change I could point to because it is embedded in the culture of the company. It is something as simple as having sanitary products in the bathrooms, understanding the challenges of women whether it be menopause/pregnancy etc. As shown by our IWD event with our COO and Head of Engineering, Shieldpay wants people to be comfortable sharing opinions and experiences which  everyone can begin to understand the challenges faced by women in the workplace, but more importantly how we can learn and grow.


  • Do you have a female role model, for you and your career? And why?
    Last year, I joined a discussion about 'How to craft the Perfect Series B pitch' with Tessa Clarke, the co-founder of Olio. She spoke about the challenges of female-led startups raising capital during funding rounds. It was incredibly interesting to hear her speak so openly and honestly about trying to take as much capital as you can given the challenges faced. Importantly, her determination and resolve during these funding was inspiring. Given the industry I am currently in, these traits are vital if you want to succeed in achieving your goals.


  • What is something small that we could all do that would create a big change for women?
    From a male perspective, it is easy to forget the challenges that women face in the workplace. So I think a something small that would be a big difference is simply understanding the challenges faced historically and in the present. I think understanding key statistics which highlight the discrepancies within the workforce is significant to creating a big change. This will help us all push for equality. I'll leave you on this wonderful quote from Ruth Bader Ginsburg: "Women will have only achieved true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation".