Female leaders make a difference during the pandemic
Betügül Toker, Chief Executive Officer, Abdul Latif Jameel Finance, Turkey was recently named in the ‘Person of the Year 2022‘ list by Payment Systems Magazine in Turkey, a leading fintech magazine. She was featured with 22 other female leaders in a recent article to celebrate PSM’s “WBuzz” meeting.
By kind permission, we are republishing the interview with Betügül below to celebrate her inclusion in the list and other female leaders.
At PSM, we have touched the stories of nearly 100 female leaders with the “On the Way to the Peak” and “Wbuzz” projects. This year, as in previous years, we followed the stories of women leaders in finance, technology and insurance. In the event, where everyone can chat with each other to the fullest after 2 years even if they are in rival companies, there is full solidarity and cooperation, not competition.
What increased our hopes for future was the 22 female leaders, some of whom are senior managers in national and international companies, and some who established their own initiatives, will take action to continue the spark they have lit for the future of girls . . . Yes, we held the Wbuzz “Women making a difference” meeting which have been holding since 2019, to support women’s participation in every stage of working life and to increase their visibility by highlighting their achievements, on March 15th in İstanbul Feriye Restaurant with the participation of 22 female leaders from 21 companies. At the meeting we held with the theme of “Equality, inclusiveness and belonging in the business world”, we asked the following questions to women leaders:
- How we did the remote working system, which became widespread with the pandemic affected female employees and managers?
- Could you give information about your companies policies and practices that support women’s career plan?
- What are the opportunities and threats faced by women in the world of finance and technology in the context of equality, inclusion and belonging?
- Can we get your suggestions to make the business world fairer, more equal and more inclusive for all employees, especially women?
What made the day meaningful was the participants supported the KızCode (name of the project, means: ‘Girl Code’) social imitative and the education of girls which will shed light on the future . . . Now is the time to implement more concrete projects with larger groups. In short, you will read more news about women in our magazine soon!
Kizcode supplied educational opportunities for over 6,000 girls
Born in 2015 with the idea of “If I did, you can do it too” KızCode social enterprise aims, to increase the role of women and girls in the field of technology by improving their technical skills. KızCode founder Müjde Esin who attended the meeting online, reminded that gender discrimination still continuous and made the following assessment: “Especially women who live in disadvantaged areas, do not have access, to the education they need, to use digital technologies from childhood, can not participate in the design of this technologies, cannot take active role in decision-making and production processes. As KızCode we create opportunities for girls and women with a core staff based on this fact. We have supplied education opportunities to 6000 girls so far.”
Betügül Toker, CEO, ALJ Finansman
“I moved to different role in September 2021, therefore, I have experienced two different periods during the pandemic. The pandemic showed me diversity and innovation in this sense. Technology and change management became more important. In the coming period, those who can adapt to change will survive; not the smartest ones.”
“Who can adapt to change, will survive”
PSM Q: How we did the remote working system, which became widespread with the pandemic affected female employees and managers?
BT: With the pandemic, we have witnessed radical changes in many aspects of our working lives. All of a sudden, we stayed at home with our families.
We tried to fulfill all responsibilities of home-work life at the same time. While many people, men and women, married or single, with or without children, have just learned about many experiences working life at home can present, they have learned to cope with them over time.
But for working mothers, this experience was a bit challenging. As seen in worldwide surveys, working mothers had a hard time managing stress during this period. Although the necessity of fulfilling all home-work responsibilities at the same time stressed them psychologically, they gained a greater ability to work in a multitasking way, for the long term. We can say that the ability to cope with challenging goals, especially to manage time well, developed in this period.
With the increase in vaccinations, the doors of the hybrid working system, were opened. We finally made up for the lack of a coffee or tea we drank, during a social conversation in the office, and we realized the value of ordinary activities under normal conditions.
PSM Q: Could you give information about your companies policies and practices that support women’s career plan?
BT: Supporting women at all times is an important point in our Company. The fact that, our Chairlady of the board of directors and General Manager is also a woman is a chance for both male and female employees. With their developed empathy, proactive perspective and emotional intelligence, women can manage the balances well for the company and seize opportunities quickly. The rate of female employees in our company is increasing day by day. The proportion of mothers among our employees, of which 49% is currently female, is also 50%.
We support our working mothers to continue to their careers after giving birth. We have practices that will provide positive development in their careers such as; merit-based promotion, functional rotations, and training plans. Our ratio of female employees in the management and senior levels is 44%.
PSM Q: What are the opportunities and threats faced by women in the world of finance and technology in the context of equality, inclusion and belonging?
BT: Opportunities: In recent years, I think that female employees have been positively supported by companies and the rate of reaching senior positions in theirs careers has increased. Although Technology seems to be a male-dominated field, there are many strong female managers at the head of large technology companies and technology teams.
As for threats: I think to most important issue is equality of opportunity in education without discriminating between men and women. Every child’s right to education regardless of socio-economic level, gender or race, should be emphasized. Well-educated people will be the building blocks of the future.
PSM Q: Can we get your suggestions to make the business world fairer, more equal and more inclusive for all employees, especially women?
BT: Well, my main suggestions would be:
- for businesses to developing practices to include more female employees at management levels
- to support continuous development of female talent
- to ensure transparent information flow from top to bottom
- to work to secure a good work-private life balance
- to consider more flexible working styles that suit today’s working world
- to focus on developing mutual understanding and awareness