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Celebrating #InspireInclusion: our commitment to leadership and empowerment

For International Women’s Day 2024, Centtrip CEO Jane Turner reflects on the company’s success in nurturing a workplace and leadership team of diverse talents.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day 2024 and its theme of Inspire Inclusion, we’ve been reflecting on our journey at Centtrip. In a fintech sector where gender diversity remains a challenge, I’m proud that Centtrip stands out, not just for its innovative financial solutions, but also for its gender parity and inclusion.

Centtrip’s senior leadership team is 50% female as is our workforce as a whole. That contrasts markedly with the overall fintech sector which, while trailblazing in so many respects, still lags behind the broader financial services sector in terms of gender diversity. Women make up just 28% of fintech workers compared to 44% in financial services as a whole.

But it’s not just numbers; it's the quality of our workforce and the insight, perspective and culture that inclusion brings.

At Centtrip, we have women in senior roles including myself as CEO, our Chief Product Officer, our Marketing Director and our Chief Legal Counsel & Compliance Officer. In fact, we have women in key roles at every level of management. Their leadership is characterised not just by their gender but by their expertise, their vision and their ability to inspire and empower others. They have shattered glass ceilings, challenged stereotypes and paved the way for other women to aspire to, and reach, their full potential.

While we recruit on candidates’ skills, we give ourselves the best possible chance of maintaining diversity by ensuring a mix of gender and background within each candidate shortlist. 

Our success hasn’t gone unnoticed. In 2022, Centtrip was listed as one of JP Morgan’s Top 200 Female-Powered Businesses and last year, for International Women’s Day 2023, I was honoured to be named one of BDO’s 28 Champions of Equity. These accolades are a reflection of our commitment to diversity, inclusion and the impactful contribution that women can make at every level of our business. It’s a recognition that companies like ours are not only leading the way in innovation but also in building a workplace where women thrive.

Promoting inclusion through empowerment and support

#InspireInclusion includes actions on:

  • recruiting, retaining and developing female talent

  • supporting women and girls into leadership, decision-making, business and STEM

It is vital, I believe, to encourage a full diversity of talent into areas that traditionally have not attracted females. This includes STEM-related sectors like tech and fintech, and leadership in all fields. Leadership often starts early in careers with gaining the confidence to make business decisions.

At Centtrip, our policy of Empowering our People is a framework designed to help all individuals, regardless of gender. It means:

·      Motivating and giving others the power to achieve important goals or objectives

·      Helping people to take power of their work and/or their lives

·      Instilling confidence in others to make decisions, solve problems and complete tasks.

We invest in our people, offering training and mentoring that empower them to take charge of their careers and contribute meaningfully to our mission. In this way we help boost diversity in leadership and decision-making.

But professional success can’t be disentangled from personal well-being, so we also provide wellness and mental health support as part of a holistic approach to employee care. Our company private health insurance includes industry-leading mental health support and we operate an in-house programme of Mental Health First Aiders across our teams.

Those initiatives provide the resources and support to ensure that our people – especially women who often juggle multiple roles – have access to mental health support, and can maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Supporting inclusion through hybrid working

Centtrip's hybrid working policy also plays an important role in fostering an inclusive and supportive environment. By offering and supporting hybrid work arrangements, we address the challenges faced by staff who are managing responsibilities both at work and at home.

Of course, there are good and bad aspects to remote or hybrid working. The challenge for leaders is to balance those to achieve the best outcomes for the business and its people.

As a high-growth, international business with a relatively small, core team and offices in central London, Fort Lauderdale and Amsterdam, we’ve learnt a lot about making hybrid working work.

For employees, loosening the office ties reduces the time and cost of commuting, contributing to a better work-life balance. Reduced travel makes it greener, too.

For employers, there’s a real-estate benefit in requiring fewer desks. Flexibility on location gives access to a greater pool of labour – those with caring responsibilities can fit in the school run or be around for those cared for. Workers can be recruited from a wider area, even across time-zones, if they don’t need to commute.

But there can be problems, too.

While homeworking is attractively easy when you have a study, spare bedroom or dining room to re-purpose, it can be hard for those with less space. Younger workers in flat-sharing situations find themselves working on their beds. Others work from the kitchen table. Parents of very young children can’t escape the noise and distraction.

It can also be isolating. The American Psychiatric Association found that nearly two thirds of people working from home feel isolated or lonely sometimes and 17% do all the time.

It’s a problem that particularly affects young workers. Over two thirds of those aged 18-34 say since working from home, they’ve found it harder to make friends and maintain relationships with colleagues.

For a high-growth, technology-focused business like Centtrip, which has a high proportion of young workers, that’s a worry. It’s another reason why we implemented a programme of generous mental health support. We also work hard to create social and semi-social moments to bring the team together and foster working relationships.

More worrying for any growing business is the challenge of onboarding and inducting new hires. How can you effectively train new hires in a hybrid environment if experienced hands stay home. How do people learn when so much learning used to be by simple observation?

The answer – in line with this year’s IWD theme – is that leadership needs to adapt to Inspire Inclusion.

Fostering inclusion through leadership

When “work” is no longer a place or time, old-fashioned command and control leadership won’t be effective, especially when a talent shortage shifts power to the individual.

This aligns with other changes in the workforce.

Today’s workers want more feedback. They expect to contribute, to share opinions and be involved in decision-making. Leading hybrid or wholly virtual teams requires excellent communication skills, an emphasis on building and maintaining relationships and the ability to clearly articulate goals.

As teams become more diverse, dispersed, digital and dynamic, leaders must work harder to quickly form effective teams and provide direction. As the workforce reflects a greater diversity of expectations, motivations and drives, leadership must adopt a more diverse set of skills.

Research shows that leadership in the digital workplace requires soft skills and an emphasis on the qualities encapsulated in Transformational Leadership, such as:

  • Inspirational motivation and vision

  • Excellent, open communication

  • Empathy and individualised consideration

  • Setting clear expectations and rewards

  • Consultative, participative decision-making

  • Intellectual stimulation.

Maybe it’s unsurprising that these traits are often associated with a female style of leadership.

Successive studies have shown how increasing the proportion of women at senior levels is correlated with better corporate performance. With the hybrid home/office environment likely to persist, it’s now clear that improving the balance of “feminine” leadership skills is central to success in the digital workplace.

Inspiring inclusion into the future

As we celebrate International Women’s Day 2024, we must also look to the future. #InspireInclusion can’t just be a theme for the day, it needs to be a guiding principle that shapes our policies and practices every day. At Centtrip, we want every voice to be heard and valued and we must continually work to enable that.

So far, we seem to be succeeding and I am very proud of all that we have achieved in the 10 years since Centtrip was founded. I would like to extend my deepest thanks to every member of the Centtrip family. Your dedication, talent, and passion are the cornerstones of our success. Together, we will continue to champion equality and inclusion, inspiring others to do the same. #InspireInclusion

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