Women of InComm Payments (WIP) board members speak about their company-wide initiative for female empowerment.
Ever since the technology sector exploded decades ago, it has been dominated by men. While gender equality has been progressing, the industry still has room for improvement. In March of 2021, a group of women at InComm Payments took a major step in challenging the status quo when seven founding members launched Women of InComm Payments (WIP) as a platform to provide a broad range of support, programs, and resources to women at InComm Payments.
WIP is off to a great start – securing enthusiastic backing from InComm Payments’ management and human resources – and already has hundreds of eager and committed members worldwide. To get a look at how WIP operates and its early achievements, we gathered the group’s board members for an enlightening conversation. Joining in our roundtable chat are:
Insights: Welcome WIP board members! Tell us how WIP came to be.
Lakshmi Vitthanala: Several team members and I attended a Dev/Ops conference and were exposed to a women’s chapter there that was dedicated to female empowerment, support, and leadership – and we came back thinking that this is something that we should launch at InComm Payments.
Pam Anderson: Lakshmi took the lead, thinking that a woman-focused group here would be of benefit. She recruited a small board of directors to test drive the idea within a small I.T. group. We launched our first WIP summit in April of 2021 to one segment of I.T., and then we expanded it to all of I.T. later in 2021. In 2022, we went global, inviting women from all areas to join. The response was very encouraging.
Lakshmi: It is important for our company to have an initiative like WIP that fosters diversity and encourages female participation. When you bring diverse thoughts to the table, your product is so much stronger, your processes are so much more versatile and mature. Our company doesn’t focus on one strong core product – look at InComm Payments’ product base: it is ever-expanding, so diverse thinking is very much needed.
Insights: Why start WIP now? Is now an optimal time?
Pam: With InComm Payments making the formal commitment to Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DE&I), WIP’s mission to provide support programs and resources to advance women dovetails beautifully with our company’s DE&I strategy.
Pragnya Gangapuram: The timing is right as there is a great deal of competition for talent in the FinTech industry. Having this forum is a great differentiator and will help us attract female employees who have a leadership mindset and want to grow. The WIP initiative, within the overall DE&I initiative, is a value add, helping us expedite our talent acquisition and retention efforts.
Lin Liu: The fact that we launched WIP during the pandemic has been a good thing. There is less in-person interaction now and that has changed the way we work and the way the teams communicate. Having WIP not only helps the women employees feel more connected, I think it also helps them to feel more connected with InComm Payments, too. The company has shown it is willing to commit and invest in this type of female empowerment initiative.
Insights: Why is WIP a good idea for InComm Payments?
Priti Patel: WIP fosters diversity in the workplace, which is what InComm Payments has been focusing on lately. WIP connects women with their peers, which is really helpful and gives women employees a platform to speak and share ideas that can help the company.
Lin: A survey showed only 26% of technology jobs are held by women, so all our female employees need this platform to connect to each other, to learn, to support and to celebrate our successes so they can grow and advance both professionally and personally.
Kelli Bargainnier: It is a very fast-paced environment here; the company has grown very quickly, and it is easy to get lost in the day-to-day activities, but WIP provides a forum for women and women advocates to encourage and empower each other, and share valuable knowledge based on our own experiences.
Insights: How would you describe the vibe of WIP?
Mateena Syeda: Inspiring. I think that’s one word I think of whenever I come out of our group summits. When you look at other women in the company and hear their stories and learn about things, it gives me motivation.
Pragnya: Very positive. Nurturing. When an organization is led by women, there is more nurturing happening within the teams because I think women take an empathic approach to employee growth.
Kelli: It is a professional forum with a personal and comfortable approach. Several of our members have described it as a sisterhood of shared knowledge.
Insights: The group has quarterly summits. Is there a specific agenda that you follow in these gatherings?
Lakshmi: Each summit focuses on one value, selected from WIP’s core values, which we call the Petals: Transform, Support, Elevate, Empower, Influence, Lead, and Celebrate.
Pam: These values help build a woman’s ability to feel empowered. For the summit, we usually have a guest speaker talk about the core value and their personal experiences.
Lin: We have different components: opening and closing videos that are fun and inspiring, and a great section called Spotlight where we highlight and celebrate our peers’ accomplishments and successes.
Insights: Will WIP’s progress be presented to senior level management?
Priti: Yes, and senior level management has been extremely supportive of WIP. We’ve gotten some great feedback on where this is going and how it’s helping female employees.
Kelli: We have a great partnership with our executive team, who support our mission. We’re currently focusing on expanding our Board to include senior leadership from every organization within InComm Payments to further encourage diversity, equality, and inclusion.
Insights: What has been WIP’s greatest success so far?
Mateena: Starting with just a few key members in the I.T. group, WIP now has about three hundred members worldwide, so that is the biggest success, I think.
Kelli: Having a forum for connecting women from other areas of the business who may never have met each other or networked together. WIP bridges the gaps in departments by providing a comfortable environment for communicating and interacting with each other – that’s a breakthrough.
Lakshmi: I would say that it is the WIP members who have been so enthusiastic to come join and learn. We have collected their feedback after our summits, and many say they feel energized to go back to work. I’m so happy that they feel empowered to look outside of their comfort zones and do more than what they’re doing right now.
Insights: Great discussion! Thank you for sharing such valuable information about WIP. One last question: where will WIP be in five years?
Pragnya: It will be a key differentiator for InComm Payments in several ways: talent acquisition and retention, helping grow our business, and providing a voice in certain business decisions.
Kelli: I would like to see WIP making an impact not just within InComm Payments but also within our community, focusing on mentorship programs, outreach events, specialized focus groups, and engagement from other organizations with similar interests.
Pam: My hope is that all women of InComm Payments will be members. I also think it’s important that WIP is open to including men. We have had several men ask to join so they might better understand the female perspective and be a better partner to their female employees. Our focus is on female empowerment, but it’s always in our best interest if we have men who understand and can support the initiative because we will all end up being stronger teams as a result.
Lakshmi: WIP anticipates having board and committee members from all business units across the globe. We are excited about the future and hope to make a difference in the lives of our members, our community, and our company.
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