Money20/20 and Rise Up: the power of inclusion

October 25, 2018, 1:29 PM Eastern Time


Visa leaders share insights from their careers

By Jolen Anderson, SVP, Chief Diversity Officer of Visa

Influence and inclusion can lead to true business outcomes. That was the topic of a conversation I was privileged to join this week during Money20/20 in Las Vegas.

My Visa colleagues Ellen Richey, vice chairman of Risk and Public Policy; Cecilia Frew, SVP, head of North America Push Payments; and I led a discussion for a group of 35 women selected for an initiative called Rise Up.

Rise Up is a leadership accelerator program giving women who work in the financial ecosystem access to contacts, mentors, training and resources to help advance their careers. As a proud sponsor of Rise Up, Visa shares this mission to foster environments where individual differences, experiences and capabilities are valued and contribute to business success.

Our time with these talented women at Money20/20 was lively and enlightening—more like a spirited conversation than a fireside chat. We shared strategies for inclusion in our organizations, told stories about our career journeys and discussed leadership behaviors that led to business results. Here are a few of the themes.

Inclusion is leadership
Being inclusive is a competency that can be demonstrated by a set of behaviors we all can learn to accelerate belonging in our work environments. It requires stepping out of your comfort zone to welcome the insights of others whose perspective is different from your own. We strive to do this at Visa, providing leaders with feedback from various sources, including employee surveys, about how successful they are at creating an environment where people share unique perspectives. 

For example, Cecilia talked about her practice to ask someone who hasn’t had a chance to speak during a meeting what they think, or provide all team members the chance to weigh in via email or in private. Good leaders don’t just talk, they actively seek and listen to all points of view to make better-informed decisions. That’s the true potential of diversity.

Embrace challenges
We agreed that fostering a network of allies and mentors of different backgrounds and experiences can help broaden your perspective and gain feedback that will be valuable to your development. 

Ellen asked, “What should a cyclist do when she meets a mountain lion?” The answer: Hold your bike over your head. Make yourself look bigger.

When faced with a challenge, whether in your career or in a situation in which you may be facing fear or uncertainty, all of us can be empowered to determine which steps to take to “look bigger” and step outside our comfort zones and drive change for our organizations.

Be bold for change

Research from McKinsey, shows that firms that prioritize gender diversity are 21 percent more likely to outperform those that don’t on profitability. In addition, Money20/20 published the results of a survey of some 750 professionals in financial services. Results showed that while the business opportunity for inclusion is widely understood, there is work to be done to diversify the talent pipeline, as well as a gap in perception between men and women about the progress being made.

Inclusion is a business opportunity that won’t be realized overnight, but programs like Rise Up are a great start. Think about which strategies the panel suggested that might be effective in your organization. You may be surprised at the ideas you hear and leadership behaviors you see from people you may unconsciously overlook.