Women are more demanding of themselves than men are – Vera Platonova, Vice President and Regional Director of Visa in 17 countries
The European Business Association in partnership with the Council of Women’s Initiatives and NGO “Modern Woman” talked with Vera Platonova, Vice President, and Regional Director of Visa in 17 countries, about practices and policies aimed at developing and promoting women in the company, as well as share their own opinions and observations on whether there are barriers to women’s professional growth and whether the presence of women in company management affects financial performance.
Visa is one of the TOP-5 socially oriented companies. What does social orientation mean for your business?
Visa is one of the first payment technology companies with the idea of social equality. Our founder Dee Hock believes that all structural units, all participants, should be equal. This principle is transferred not only to the business model, but also to the company’s attitude to employees, principles, and policies on HR, diversity, and inclusion. Social benefits and social support for all employees are the same, regardless of gender, race, region.
The company pays great attention to the development of employees, and not only in professional activities, but depending on what a person wants – to learn foreign languages, develop emotional intelligence, and so on.
In terms of diversity and inclusion, we are guided by the internal Code of Conduct, the company sees the need for a 50:50 ratio of women and men in management positions, and we strive to achieve this balance. We pay a lot of attention to the topic of women’s leadership, promotion of women to leadership positions, women’s development. We also involve many young people to work in our company.
Let′s talk about equality and the barriers that women face in companies. What does equality between women and men in business mean to you?
I think this is equal access to opportunities, positions, activity areas. I am against granting any preferences, everyone should be treated equally.
In your opinion, are areas in which only women or only men can work?
I think that 70% of the success in work depends on the personal qualities of an individual, and the other 30% is on inclinations. For example, because our world is focused on multitasking, women are likely the one who is more efficient now. Men are usually more inclined to precise tasks that require deep concentration and immersion. However, it is worth noting that there are women, even in our company, who are engaged in technical implementation, are well versed in IT. There are no positions that can be held only by women, or only by men.
What personal qualities are needed to run companies?
Surely, it is the attitude towards people, the desire to be useful and be involved in their lives. As well as dedication, which may even border on obsession and trust.
Are women less confident than men?
I think so, but it’s not a barrier, it’s about the mindset. Women, in my opinion, are more demanding of themselves. But this leads to the fact that women often outperform in leadership positions.
In your opinion, does a person′s gender affect the quality of decision-making?
It probably affects, but, again, in a ratio of 70% (personal qualities) to 30% (gender). Most likely, a woman listens more to the opinion of the team, correlates how this decision will have an impact on people, the climate in the team. A man probably doesn’t think about it sometimes. Although this thesis can hardly be extended to all women and men.
Are there barriers to women′s professional growth?
On the contrary, there is now an internal women’s leadership movement, specialized mentoring, and coaching programs to help women move forward. For example, in our company, it is quite normal when a man takes parental leave. And also, when a woman takes parental leave, it does not affect her promotion. Besides, there were cases when we hired women in the 6-7 months of pregnancy, and that always paid off.
Foreign and Ukrainian companies are trying to ensure equal representation of women and men in top management. One argument is that women-led companies are faster to repay loans, build more effective partnerships, and sell better. In your opinion, does the presence of women in business management affect financial performance?
I read in one study that if the management consists of 20+% of women, the company’s profitability increases. Therefore, we at Visa believe that women should be in the top management because they introduce a different way of thinking, add more people-oriented skills which as a result have a positive impact on the company’s performance.
So, it′s about having a different perspective and soft skills?
Yes, a different perspective and approach to decision-making, a strategic vision.
Does Visa have an approved Gender Equality Policy or a Diversity and Inclusion Policy?
We have only one comprehensive policy called the Code of Conduct. This code has everything to do with behavior and equality. Besides, we, if necessary, expand and supplement it. The company also has strategies for diversity and inclusion, and there are representatives in each region who perform this function, organize the movement of women’s leadership, deal with racial issues, minorities, LGBT Pride, hold forums, etc.
As for the question of age, we do not pay attention to it at all. The company looks into professional qualities, personal proactivity, ability to do the job regardless of age.
We also employ people with disabilities – as you probably know, by law they should be 4% of the total number of employees. However, we constantly think that we can still do outside and inside the company to support such people.
What are Visa′s priorities in corporate social responsibility?
We have several of them. The first area is financial inclusion, financial literacy training. There is also social inclusion, which concerns small and medium-sized businesses, ie how we can help talented people with disabilities who are engaged in SMEs. There are also days of volunteering, financial assistance to the Red Cross, other global organizations in specific countries to support doctors. And the amounts we donated as employees, Visa then doubles.
The Covid-19 pandemic has been going on for over a year and has had a significant impact on business processes and the psychological climate in the team. How is your business responding to this challenge?
The company has a very serious approach to this. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have started working remotely, and we still do. The safety of our colleagues is paramount, and even if there is a possible benefit from an on-site meeting, we need to agree on it. We pay a lot of attention to training and topics related to work from home, medical support. The company has also introduced well-being hours that can be spent on yourself, your health, recovery – every Friday from 14.00 we are forbidden to make appointments, except for very important client meetings, and this time is compensated by working on other days.